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Colored Sweat: Chromhidrosis

By HERWriter
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Skin, Hair & Nails related image Photo: Getty Images

Yellow perspiration stains caused by antiperspirants are pretty common to see on a blouse. However, sweat that is colored red, blue, green or even black would be pretty startling. Chromhidrosis is the medical term to describe this rare condition where a person secretes colored sweat. Yellow staining is the most common color of chromhidrosis and it typically occurs in the underarm area. According to emedicine.com, approximately 10 percent of people who do not have chromhidrosis have colored sweat and in those people, it is not considered to be abnormal.

Our bodies have two types of sweat glands: eccrine glands are located all over our bodies which secrete a clear odorless sweat to regulate our body temperature and apocrine glands are located in our underarms, genitals, areolas and faces and secrete a milky sweat that can have odor when bacteria is in contact with it.

Typically, chromhidrosis affects the apocrine glands due to production of higher than normal amounts of a yellow brown pigment called lipofuscin. The cause of this over production is unknown. Occasionally, people will develop eccrine chromhidrosis but it usually occurs because the person had ingested certain medication, dye or paint not because of a change of their pigment levels in their sweat glands.

Though this condition is rare, apocrine chromhidrosis is more common in African Americans than Caucasians but facial chromhidrosis has only been found in Caucasians. Prior to having a chromhidrosis episode, the person may report a sensation of warmth or prickliness that occurs after an emotional stress or physical exertion.

One case occurred to a 11-year-old girl who was a soccer player. She noticed small amounts of blue-black colored sweat from her areola that would stain her bra after games. Another case occurred to a 7-year-old girl who developed pinkish sweat under her eyelids that would reappear every 30 minutes after being wiped away. The doctors of the 11-year-old felt it was important to make people aware that if chromhidrosis appears in children, they may not relay it for fear that they will be perceived as different by their peers.

Unfortunately, there is no real cure or treatment for apocrine chromhidrosis. Botox has been tried in three cases with mixed results. Botox is currently used for those who have hyperhydrosis or excess sweating conditions. Botox acts to decrease the stimulation of sweat by suppressing the hormonal release of those chemicals in the body. Capsaicin, which has been used for pain relief, has also been tried with limited success as the condition returned when therapy was stopped.

While there is no cure for apocrine chromhidrosis, the condition is thought to improve as the person ages since apocrine glands become less active with time.


Michele is an R.N. freelance writer with a special interest in woman’s healthcare and quality of care issues. Other articles by Michele are at www.helium.com/users/487540/show_articles

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EmpowHER Guest

Neglected is a delayed sweat color change to indigo blue--black shades; or indirubrin magenta-fuscia-pink stains hours later on moist clothing, as a result of genetic variant Tryptophan metabolism and excretion through the apocrine system as indoxyl amines. Similar to the PUB Syndrome in end result, but related to apocrine transport of constituents of amino acids, urea, and many others though to be renal in excretion, certain individuals have a high amount transported in apocrine sweat, when under exertion/exercise conditions and heat(not heat alone), and discovered apocreine and associated adipose tissue complex enzymes are thought to come into play. The result is often localized, and even shirt soaked, delayed patterns resembling tie-dye shirts from the 1960s. Cases of magenta/fuscia/pink, and delayed blue black are sparse, but exist in reporting(see South African Journal report on pink bathing suit mystery).
C. Saputa MD

August 4, 2013 - 5:46pm
EmpowHER Guest

you could always buy hibiclens soap and use that where its worse, i have this and it is mainly under my arms and it makes a blue black like ive been badly bruised, but really its just my sweat, i use the soap under my arms and it takes it away for a couple days. then just use it as you need, my dermatologist and my regular doctor recommended that and it works for a great treatment.

January 11, 2013 - 11:53am
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