Please note: this article contains an image of a medical nature that some may consider graphic.
Doctors have been left baffled after treating an Italian woman who appears to sweat blood through her skin.
The unnamed 21-year-old was admitted to a general medical ward after reporting a three-year history of bleeding from her palms and face, despite no evidence of skin lesions.
Once in hospital, doctors witnessed a liquid they believe to be blood pouring from her face.
The case was highlighted in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) this week.
According to the report, doctors diagnosed the patient with hematohidrosis - an uncommon disease characterised by spontaneous discharge of “blood sweat” through intact skin. However, the cause of the condition is still unknown.
Writing in the medical journal, doctors Roberto Maglie and Marzia Caproni said “there was no obvious trigger for the bleeding, which could occur while she was asleep and during times of physical activity”.
“She stated that more intense bleeding occurred during times of perceived emotional stress. Episodes lasted from one to five minutes,” they said.
They added that hematohidrosis is something of a medical mystery, saying “there is no single explanation of the source of bleeding in hematohidrosis”.
In an accompanying article in the CMAJ, medical historian Dr Jacalyn Duffin stated there have been a “steady stream of reports” on hematohidrosis in medical journals dating back to 1895, but “ambivalence is evident” around the condition.
Dr Duffin highlighted that historically, some skeptics suggested the liquid present in supposed hematohidrosis cases is actually red sweat, rather than blood.
However, after reviewing the evidence in the 28 cases presented since 2004, she concluded that the condition does exist.
“This collection of well-documented observations commands respect and acceptance,” she wrote.
Commenting on the case of the 21-year-old, Toronto-based hematologist Dr Michelle Sholzberg said it was “most unusual”.
“I can say with clarity that I’ve never seen a case like this, ever,” she told CBC News.
“And I can say that I’ve seen some of the worst bleeding disorders, and I’ve never seen them sweat blood.”
The good news is that doctors were able to help the patient. They prescribed her with medication to ease the symptoms of depression and anxiety she was feeling as a result of her condition. They also prescribed Propranolol - a drug that affects blood circulation and the heart - based on its appearance in medical literature on hematohidrosis.
The woman reportedly experienced a “marked reduction” in bleeding after taking the drug, although her symptoms were not completely eradicated.