Chromhidrosis is a rare chronic condition that causes sweat to have a color — possibly black, blue, green, yellow, or brown. Though chromhidrosis is benign, it may lead to emotional or psychological distress.
In this article, learn more about what chromhidrosis is, what causes it, and what treatments are available.
What is it?
Colorful sweat from chromhidrosis can either be widespread throughout the body or restricted to specific areas.
Chromhidrosis is a chronic condition that causes a person to have colorful sweat.
There are three types:
Apocrine chromhidrosis: This affects areas that contain apocrine sweat glands, such as the torso, eyelids, scalp, ears, and areola — the darker area of skin around the nipple.
Eccrine chromhidrosis: Because eccrine sweat glands are widely distributed, this can affect sweat in almost every area of the body.
Pseudochromhidrosis: This results when dyes, chemicals, or pigment-producing bacteria mix with colorless eccrine sweat to form colored sweat.
Chromhidrosis can occur at nearly any age, but it usually becomes noticeable after puberty, when the apocrine glands begin secreting fluid.
The International Hyperhidrosis Society (IHS) note that information about this condition is scarce because it is so rare. There seems to be no association between chromhidrosis and sex, geographic location, season, or weather, though it may be more likely to develop in people of African descent.
Although the condition is chronic, the discoloration of sweat may decrease over time as the body produces less lipofuscin, a pigment that is likely responsible for the color changes.
People with chromhidrosis may have more lipofuscin, or lipofuscin that is more oxidized, than others.
Chromhidrosis is a harmless condition. However, stress or embarrassment about the coloration can lead to depression and anxiety.
The defining symptom of chromhidrosis is the production of colored sweat. The color may only affect sweat in certain areas or sweat all over the body. The color and the vividness of the shade can vary from person to person.
Some people experience a warm or prickly feeling caused by stress or physical activity before colored sweat appears.
Chromhidrosis can cause sweat to turn:
Anyone who has chromhidrosis should speak with a healthcare provider if they start to experience symptoms of emotional distress, depression, or anxiety. These symptoms can include:
a general feeling of hopelessness, worthlessness, helplessness, guilt or pessimism
a persistent anxious, sad, or “empty” mood
a decrease in energy or increase in fatigue
a lack of interest in once enjoyable activities
physical symptoms, such as a headache, that does not respond to treatment
trouble concentrating, making decisions, or remembering
a lack of appetite or overeating
thoughts of suicide or death