Chromhidrosis is a rare, chronic condition characterized by color in your sweat. While it isn’t life-threatening, chromhidrosis often causes emotional distress.
If you’re dealing with discolored sweat, schedule a visit with a dermatologist to get answers, rule out more serious conditions, and learn about treatment options.
Highly regarded dermatologist and dermatopathologist Yvonne Hines, MD, and the team at Hines Dermatology Associates diagnose and treat a full range of conditions affecting the skin, including rare conditions such as chromhidrosis.
What is chromhidrosis?
Chromhidrosis causes the sweat glands to secrete colored sweat. While it can occur at any age, it’s most often noticeable after puberty. There are three types of chromhidrosis: apocrine, eccrine, and pseudochromhidrosis.
Your body has two types of sweat glands, apocrine and eccrine. In apocrine chromhidrosis, apocrine glands release colored sweat affecting mostly the face, ears, scalp, and trunk.
Eccrine chromhidrosis may occur anywhere on the body, as eccrine glands are widely distributed, except in areas such as the lips.
Pseudochromhidrosis occurs when sweat interacts with certain substances, resulting in colored sweat.
Although the condition is long-term, some patients may experience a decrease in discolored sweat as they age. Chromhidrosis does not threaten your health. However, patients with the condition report stress and embarrassment, as well as anxiety and depression related to their symptoms.
Signs and symptoms of chromhidrosis
Sweat is your body’s natural response to regulate temperature. To prevent overheating, the body promotes heat loss through evaporation. As you produce sweat, the body cools down. Normally, sweat is a clear, salty fluid, but for people with chromhidrosis, sweat may appear a vivid color such as:
The shade of sweat can vary from person to person. This may be startling or alarming to anyone who isn’t aware of the condition.
More than anything, patients with chromhidrosis report emotional distress in relation to their condition. Some symptoms include:
- Feelings of guilt or shame
- Reduced energy
- Lack of interest in activities you once enjoyed
- Low mood
- Problems concentrating
- Lack of appetite
- Problems sleeping
Emotional distress may cause physical symptoms, such as headaches and weight loss.
Some people may experience a warm, tingly sensation before the appearance of colored sweat. Additionally, stress or physical activity may trigger colored sweat in people with chromhidrosis.
Causes of chromhidrosis
A pigment called lipofuscin is commonly associated with chromhidrosis. Lipofuscins are yellow-brown pigment granules made of fat-like residues. Certain activities such as hot showers and friction against the skin increase the likelihood of discolored sweat in people with chromhidrosis.
In some cases, ingesting of certain substances causes discoloration of sweat. Notable substances include:
- Food colorings
- Copper or other heavy metals
- Water-soluble dyes
- Certain medications
In some cases, pigment-producing bacteria cause sweat discoloration. In other circumstances, health issues such as infection and liver problems may cause sweat to change color. It’s wise to see a doctor about colored sweat.
Dr. Hines conducts a comprehensive evaluation and rules out more serious causes.
Treatment of chromhidrosis may involve reducing sweat. Therapy with Botox® injections is effective at reducing sweat. In the case of chromhidrosis caused by chemicals, treatment tends to involve reducing contact with dyes and heavy metals.
For patients with pseudochromhidrosis, antimicrobial medications may help balance bacteria to reduce colored sweat. If medication is the cause of your colored sweat, it should return to normal after the medication is discontinued.
Dr. Hines has extensive experience in both common and rare conditions. For evaluation of abnormal colored sweat or any other skin problem, contact our Attleboro, Massachusetts, office at 508-222-1976 or book online to schedule an appointment.
Current and prospective patients can also send a message to Dr. Hines and the team here on our website.