What is Hematidrosis?

Hematidrosis is a rare and unusual condition that is characterized by the excretion of blood through the sweat gland pores. It has been described in the Bible as occurring to Jesus Christ when he was praying in the garden of Gethsemane just before his arrest and subsequent crucifixion. Another historical mention of hematidrosis occurred in the Middle Ages by the artist Leonardo da Vinci in a soldier facing battle.

Woman Stuns Doctors By Sweating Blood

Causes

Hematidrosis has been described as a part of certain systemic diseases including primary thrombocytopenic purpura, vicarious menstruation, which refers to the occurrence of bleeding from a body surface other than the endometrium, as well as strenuous exertion or intense stress.

Psychogenic purpura is another condition in which the patient experiences an allergic reaction to their own blood. As a result, the individual develops bruises, as well as bleeding in the urine and gastrointestinal tract. This is not true in hematidrosis, and neither is psychogenic stigmata, in which the affected individuals develop scars or wounds or simply bleed through unbroken skin, which has an appearance that is believed to be similar to the wounds of Jesus Christ on the cross.

In many cases women were found to develop the stigmata and features of neurosis were allegedly present. When the skin was not broken, it became raised and developed a small bluish area before a slow trickle of blood began to emerge. It is believed that under these conditions, the capillaries surrounding the sweat glands rupture and blood escapes into the gland lumen, only to emerge through the duct openings on to the skin.

Symptoms

In many cases, the phenomenon is preceded by severely stressful emotions or events, whereas in others, there is no identifiable cause. The secretion is not frank blood but rather sweat tinged with blood. The blood is usually found to ooze steadily and for a prolonged time from the forehead, nails, navel, nose, and even through the lacrimal duct, which results in blood-stained tears.

In some cases, each episode is preceded by a severe headache or by abdominal pain. The amount of blood lost is insignificant; however, the skin becomes very tender and easily broken.

Sympathetic activation is a suspected cause in at least some of the cases because the administration of a sympathetic blocker, such as propranolol, may suppress further episodes over the next few months.

The secretion is usually more dilute than frank blood;l however, in some cases, it is bright red and thick. The composition of the blood is identical to that of plasma, with respect to both cellular and fluid components.

Tests of coagulation such as the platelet count, platelet aggregation, and assessment of clotting factor levels fail to show any deviation from the normal blood. A skin biopsy is also normal, even when taken immediately after the bleeding episode. Furthermore, the skin appendages including the sweat glands also appear normal.

In some patients, the occurrence of hematidrosis is infrequent at first but eventually several episodes are experienced per day. The bleeding usually stops after some time without treatment. There is no history or evidence of self-laceration or other injury.

References

Further Reading

Last Updated: May 23, 2021

Dr. Liji Thomas

Written by

Dr. Liji Thomas

Dr. Liji Thomas is an OB-GYN, who graduated from the Government Medical College, University of Calicut, Kerala, in 2001. Liji practiced as a full-time consultant in obstetrics/gynecology in a private hospital for a few years following her graduation. She has counseled hundreds of patients facing issues from pregnancy-related problems and infertility, and has been in charge of over 2,000 deliveries, striving always to achieve a normal delivery rather than operative.

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