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