Note to self: if you eat enough red food coloring, your sweat turns red.

Posted on Sep 19, 2013 in Health & Wellness

The patient described in this case report (which we featured a few years back) sought out medical attention because her sweat was turning red. It turned out that the color change was due to the up to 5 POUNDS of tomato-flavored “Nik Naks” she was eating each week. Apparently, her body was absorbing dye from the red-colored crunchy corn-based snack food and releasing enough of it in her sweat to stain her lingerie pink (see the figure after the jump). Yikes!

3703494528_84ec9b33b2The case of the red lingerie – chromhidrosis revisited.

“Chromhidrosis or the production of coloured sweat is a rare clinical finding. A 26-year-old female presented with marked pink staining of her uniform and lingerie. Extractions of clothing, skin surface samples, eccrine sebum, urine and a fast food product were spectrophotometrically analysed to identify the pink staining pigment. Three water-soluble colouring agents have been identified. An eccrine route of excretion probably produced chromhidrosis. An overview is presented.”

Bonus quote from the full text: “A healthy 26-year-old nursing sister consulted our department with continuous pink to bright red staining of her white uniform following an 8- to 10-hour workday. This affliction has been noticeable for some 5 months after her annual leave. She had an uneventful previous medical history and denied taking any drugs, health foods or vitamin supplements in the 6 months prior to her consultation… A follow-up in-depth history produced confirmation of a 6-month fetish for a specific brand of tomato-flavoured prepacked fast foods. The patient admitted indulging in 500–2,500 g/week [1.1-5.5 pounds] over an extended period…It would therefore seem that a pink lipid- and water-soluble agent obtained from prepacked food was being excreted via the renal and integumental systems.”

Bonus figure:

Fig. 1. The patient’s underclothing with pinkish discoloration in the elastic band regions.

Fig. 1. The patient’s underclothing with pinkish discoloration in the elastic band regions.