What Is Hematidrosis?

It's turned up throughout history. Jesus was said to have been sweating blood before his crucifixion. The artist Leonardo da Vinci wrote about a soldier who had bloody sweat after battle.

Hematidrosis, or hematohidrosis, is a very rare medical condition that causes you to ooze or sweat blood from your skin when you're not cut or injured.

Only a few handfuls of hematidrosis cases were confirmed in medical studies in the 20th century.

Symptoms

People who have hematidrosis may sweat blood from their skin. It usually happens on or around the face, but the skin might be lining the inside of your body, too, like in your nose, mouth, or stomach. The skin around the bloody area may swell temporarily.

Crying tears of blood is related. It's called hemolacria. Bleeding from the ears is called blood otorrhea.

Hematidrosis can look like blood, bloody sweat, or sweat with droplets of blood in it. Sweating a different color -- like yellow, blue, green, or black -- is a different condition called chromhidrosis.

The bleeding usually stops on its own, and it's not serious, although it can make you dehydrated. And, of course, it can be disturbing.

What Happens

Doctors don't know exactly what triggers hematidrosis, in part because it's so rare. They think it could be related to your body's "fight or flight" response.

Tiny blood vessels in the skin break open. The blood inside them may get squeezed out through sweat glands, or there might be unusual little pockets within the structure of your skin. These could collect the blood and let it leak into follicles (where the hair grows) or on to the skin's surface.

Who Gets It

Hematidrosis can be a symptom of other diseases, such as high blood pressure or bleeding disorders.

It's also happened to women while they've had their periods.

Sometimes it seems to be caused by extreme distress or fear, such as facing death, torture, or severe ongoing abuse. It's probably where the term "sweating blood," meaning a great effort, comes from.

Continued

Diagnosis

The doctor will ask you about the bleeding, including how long it lasts and when and how often it happens. They'll talk to you about your health in general, your medical problems, and the health history of close family members. They'll also want to know what's going on in your life.

To try to figure out what led to the hematidrosis, they may do blood and imaging tests to look for clues and rule out other problems. You'll probably get tests to check how well your liver and kidneys are working. You may have tests like a CT scan or ultrasound, depending on where the bleeding is.

Doctors who specialize in blood, skin, or other areas might get involved, too.

Treatment

If the doctor finds or suspects that something is setting the hematidrosis off, they'll try to treat that underlying issue to prevent it from happening again. You may get:

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Debra Jaliman, MD on February 15, 2018

Sources

SOURCES:

Indian Journal of Dermatology: "Hematohidrosis -- A Rare Clinical Phenomenon."

Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center: "Hematohidrosis."

Blood: "Hematidrosis: blood sweat."

Patterson, J. Weedon's Skin Pathology, Churchill Livingstone, 2016.

Medscape: "Chromhidrosis."

American Journal of Otolaryngology: "Blood otorrhea: blood stained sweaty ear discharges: hematohidrosis; four case series (2001-2013)."

American Journal of Dermatopathology: "Hematidrosis: a pathologic process or stigmata. A case report with comprehensive histopathologic and immunoperoxidase studies."

Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine: "An interesting case report of hematohidrosis."

Journal of Medicine: "Blood, sweat and fear. 'A classification of hematidrosis'."

Case Reports in Dermatological Medicine: "Child Who Presented with Facial Hematohidrosis Compared with Published Cases."

Indian Journal of Dermatology, Venereology and Leprology: "Letter to the Editor: Hematohidrosis."

GE Portuguese Journal of Gastroenterology: "Hematidrosis, Hemolacria, and Gastrointestinal Bleeding."

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