What Is Bromidrosis?

Andy Josiah

Bromidrosis, also known as bromhidrosis and most commonly known as body odor, is a chronic condition that is characterized by excessive odor emitted from a person's body. The odor produced is usually an unpleasant smell. As a result, bromidrosis can present adverse social consequences, depending on the strength of the odor. Body odor mostly affects people past their puberty stage.

The face, armpits, hands and feet may all be affected by excessive sweating.
The face, armpits, hands and feet may all be affected by excessive sweating.

The primary cause of bromidrosis is the reaction of bacteria with sweat. The terms "fetid sweat," referred to by the clinical terms osmidrosis and ozochrotia, and "malodorous sweating" are used to describe sweat that emits an offensive odor. These can be considered misnomers, however, since sweat by itself does not produce odor at all.

People with bromidrosis are encouraged to wash with antiseptic soap during bathing sessions.
People with bromidrosis are encouraged to wash with antiseptic soap during bathing sessions.

Apocrine bromhidrosis is the most common form of the condition. This occurs when bacteria on the skin decompose secretions, particularly the oily components, from the apocrine sweat glands, resulting in releasing fatty acids. These substances are responsible for producing the body odor. Apocrine glands, however, are limited in distribution and are found in the armpit, genital area and breasts.

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Deodorant is often used to eliminate body odor.
Deodorant is often used to eliminate body odor.

Eccrine glands, which form the other major category of secretion glands in humans, are distributed throughout the skin. Thus, eccrine bromhidrosis is the type of condition associated with odor emanating from all over the body. Bromidrosis, however, can be broken down by the area of the body affected. For instance, axillary bromhidrosis refers to odor coming from the armpits.

Body sprays may help reduce bromidrosis problems.
Body sprays may help reduce bromidrosis problems.

Bromidrosis might have other causes. Some physicians suggest that food items such as alcohol, garlic, onions and certain spices are contributing factors. Bromidrosis can also be the result of one's heredity, lifestyle and general health.

Hyperhidrosis can be considered related to bromidrosis as a condition that leads to the latter. It is characterized by excessive sweating, especially as a reaction to high temperatures. Like bromidrosis, hyperhidrosis could either affect the entire body or be concentrated at certain areas.

Bromidrosis, particularly in the more extreme cases, can be treated. Antiperspirants such as deodorant are used to combat odor as a result of sweating at the armpits. For a holistic approach, people suffering from bromidrosis are encouraged to use antibacterial agents such as antiseptic soap during thorough bathing sessions, as well as body sprays or washes. Dermatologic use of the Clostridium botulinum protein product, Botulinum toxin, has been promoted to induce a long-term decrease of sweat production. There are also surgical treatment that involve the removal of some skin and/or subcutaneous tissue.

The combination of bacteria and sweat leads to body odor, or bromidrosis.
The combination of bacteria and sweat leads to body odor, or bromidrosis.

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