Oct. 24 (UPI) -- A pair of Italian doctors detailed the unusual case of a woman hospitalized with a condition that causes her to sweat blood from her face and hands.
The University of Florence doctors, writing in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, said the patient told healthcare providers she had been sweating blood from her face and the palms of her hands for about three years.
The doctors wrote there was no clear trigger for the bleeding and the woman noticed it happening when she was sleeping or engaging in physical activity. She said times of stress would bring more intense bleeding, which could last from one to five minutes.
"Our patient had become socially isolated owing to embarrassment over the bleeding and she reported symptoms consistent with major depressive disorder and panic disorder," the doctors wrote.
The doctors said they witnessed the bleeding and performed tests that revealed her blood count and blood clotting functions were normal, leading them to rule out "factitious disorder," meaning she was not somehow faking the condition.
The woman was diagnosed with hematohidrosis, an extremely rarely-reported disease that causes blood to be excreted through unbroken skin or pores.
The doctors said the cause of the condition is a mystery, but theories include conditions that impair blood clotting and psychogenetic conditions, which result from extreme emotional responses triggering physical symptoms.
"In the literature, there is no single explanation of the source of bleeding in hematohidrosis," the study states.
The doctors treated the woman with beta blocker propranolol, commonly prescribed for heart and blood pressure conditions, and she experienced a marked reduction in her symptoms, but the bleeding did not completely cease.