Bromhidrosis: Everything you need to know about this unpleasant body odor

Bromhidrosis, also known as excessive body odor. In this blog, we take a closer look at this condition, including its causes, triggers, and effective treatment options. Find out how to tackle this annoying smell and restore your confidence.

What is bromhidrosis?

It is a medical term that refers to the persistent and excessive body odor caused by the bacterial breakdown of sweat. It is a condition that many people experience and can lead to an unpleasant smell that is often perceived as a nuisance in social situations.

Sweat itself is odorless, but when it is broken down by bacteria on the surface of the skin, it releases volatiles that are responsible for its characteristic odor. It is mainly the bacteria that occur naturally on our skin that are involved in this process.

Causes of bromhidrosis:

Bromhidrosis, also known as osmidrosis or ozochrotia, is an unpleasant or offensive body odor caused by bacterial and yeast breakdown of sweat gland secretions and cell debris. It can have various causes, such as poor hygiene, infections, diet, medication or hereditary metabolic disorders.

There are several factors that contribute to the development of excessive body odor. First, excessive sweating plays a role. People who naturally sweat more produce a greater amount of sweat that can break down bacteria, making the odor stronger. Hormonal changes, such as those during puberty or menopause, can also affect sweat gland activity and contribute to bromhidrosis.

Bromhidrosis has two main types: apocrine bromhidrosis and eccrine bromhidrosis.

Apocrine bromhidrosis is the most common form of bromhidrosis in adults. It usually affects specific areas such as the armpits and anogenital area. The apocrine glands, located in the armpits, around the nipples, in the genital area and around the anus, play an important role in this form of bromhidrosis. The apocrine glands produce a thicker and oilier sweat than the eccrine glands. When this sweat is broken down by bacteria on the skin, it can cause an unpleasant odor. Apocrine bromhidrosis can have a significant impact on a person’s quality of life, as the odor can spread and cause social discomfort.

Eccrine bromhidrosis, on the other hand, manifests as a general malodour all over the body. It may be accompanied by additional symptoms such as bad breath (halitosis), an unpleasant odor in the genital area and even foul-smelling urinee. Eccrine bromhidrosis is caused by the breakdown of sweat by bacteria and yeast on the skin. The eccrine glands are responsible for producing most of the sweat on our body, especially during physical exertion or in warm temperatures. When this sweat is broken down by bacteria, it can cause an unpleasant odor.

Both apocrine bromhidrosis and eccrine bromhidrosis can have a negative impact on a person’s self-confidence, social interactions, and overall quality of life.

In addition to internal factors, external circumstances can also play a role in the development of bromhidrosis. Warm and humid environments create a favorable environment for bacteria to multiply and break down sweat. Wearing tight clothing and synthetic fabrics can restrict airflow and promote sweat buildup, which can amplify odor.

What are the triggers:

Certain factors that can cause or exacerbate bromhidrosis include genetics, the consumption of certain foods, and other medical conditions

Chronic body odor can run in families and studies show a strong correlation between genetics and bromhidrosis

Hyperhidrosis or excessive sweating can also contribute to bromhidrosis, as bacteria and sweat are key components of the condition. More about hyperhidrosis

Ingestion of certain foods or medications can cause eccrine bromohidrosis

The hair on our body can trap bacteria and sweat, which can exacerbate the severity of bromhidrosis. Therefore, it is important to pay attention to the immediate removal or washing of sweaty clothes By doing this, we give bacteria less time to break down sweat and create the unpleasant odor.

When we sweat, the sweat is absorbed by our clothes. If we wear these sweaty clothes for too long, we provide a humid and warm environment for bacteria to thrive and multiply. These bacteria break down the sweat and produce chemicals that cause an unpleasant odor. Immediately removing or washing sweaty clothing minimizes the time bacteria are active and thus helps control odor.

It is also important to pay attention to washing sweaty clothes. Using an antibacterial detergent can help kill the bacteria that has accumulated in the clothes. Thoroughly rinsing and drying the clothes can also help remove any remaining bacteria.

In addition, wearing breathable clothing made from natural fibers such as cotton can help absorb excess sweat and reduce the growth of bacteria.

Nutrition and Bromhidrosis:

Certain foods can enhance the smell of bromhidrosis, although there are no specific foods that directly cause the condition. Garlic, onions, spicy foods, and certain spices are known to worsen body odor in some people.

Garlic and onions contain sulfur compounds that are broken down by the body after consumption and excreted through sweat. These sulfur compounds can cause a strong and unpleasant odor Spicy foods and certain spices, such as curry, can also have a similar effect on the smell of sweat.

Bromhidrosis Garlic And Onions

It may be helpful to experiment with your diet and observe whether avoiding certain foods has a positive effect on odor. By paying attention to your nutritional intake and any changes in the odor of your sweat, you may be able to identify certain foods that enhance the odor.

It is important to note that the response to foods may vary individually. Not everyone will have the same reaction to garlic, onions, or spicy foods. That’s why it’s advisable to experiment for yourself and find out which foods might affect your particular smell.

Modifying your diet and avoiding foods that exacerbate odor may be a possible strategy for controlling body odor. However, it is also important to maintain a balanced diet and get enough nutrients. Consult a nutritionist about adjusting your diet in relation to bromhidrosis.

Treatment options:

Several treatment options are available for bromhidrosis, ranging from simple hygiene measures to more advanced medical procedures, depending on the severity of the condition and the impact on quality of life. Some of these treatments are discussed below:

  1. Good hygiene practices: Good personal hygiene is essential to control odor. Regular showering with water and mild soap can help remove bacteria and sweat residue that contribute to odor. Thoroughly cleaning the armpits, anogenital area and other areas where odor manifests itself is important. Make sure the skin is thoroughly dry after showering to prevent fluid accumulation.
  2. Antibacterial soap: Using antibacterial soap can help reduce the bacterial population on the skin. This reduces the breakdown of sweat gland secretions by bacteria, which can reduce odor. However, it is important to use this soap in moderation, as overuse can upset the skin’s natural balance.
  3. Special deodorants and antiperspirants: There are deodorants and antiperspirants on the market specifically designed to combat the odor of bromhidrosis. These products contain ingredients that inhibit bacteria and neutralize odor. Antiperspirants can also help reduce sweating by temporarily blocking the sweat glands. It is advisable to choose products that are suitable for sensitive skin types and do not contain irritants.
  4. Medication: In some cases, medication may be prescribed to treat bromhidrosis. Antibiotics can be used to fight bacterial infections that cause the odor. In addition, oral medications, such as anticholinergics, can help reduce sweating. However, these medications can have side effects and must be prescribed by a physician.
  5. Medical procedures: For severe cases of bromhidrosis, medical procedures may be considered. An example is botulinum toxin (Botox) injection into the sweat glands. Botox can reduce sweat production and control odor. Other procedures, such as surgical removal of the sweat glands, may be considered in rare cases.
  6. Liposuction with subdermal scraping under local anesthesia with tumescent infiltration. This method uses local anesthesia with tumescent infiltration to numb the area and reduce swelling. Modified superficial liposuction is then performed, carefully removing sweat glands. Subdermal scraping of the sweat glands. This treatment method offers several advantages. First, it can be performed under local anesthesia, reducing the risk and discomfort of general anesthesia. In addition, the use of tumescence infiltration minimizes blood loss and reduces the risk of bruising and swelling after the procedure.
  7. Chlorophyll supplement: In a study with 62 elderly people in a nursing home, the use of chlorophyll supplements was found to be helpful in controlling body and fecal odor. No toxic or other harmful effects were observed.

It is important to emphasize that choosing the right treatment depends on the individual situation and the severity of the bromhidrosis.

However, there is anecdotal evidence that suggests laser hair removal can help prevent unwanted body odor. It is important to note that the evidence on the relationship between laser hair removal and bromhidrosis is mixed. Further research is needed to determine the exact relationship between the two.

Did you know that the availability and price of deodorant in East Asia and Korea are influenced by a gene called ABCC11? This gene determines whether people produce wet or dry earwax. People with dry earwax lack a specific chemical in their armpits that feeds bacteria and therefore causes armpit odor.

This genetic variant is widespread in East Asia and Korea, where 80-90% of the population has this trait, resulting in odorless armpits. In other populations, having no body odor is rare, with only about 2% of the white population carrying the ‘no body odor’ version of the gene.

In other words

Bromhidrosis can be a source of embarrassment and discomfort, but with the right knowledge and treatment options, it is possible to effectively address the odor. Identify the causes, avoid triggers and adjust your diet to reduce odor. Consult a dermatologist for advice and treatment options best suited to your situation.

Picture of Dr. Francis Wu

Dr. Francis Wu

Dr. Francis Wu, een vooraanstaande dermatoloog, is de drijvende kracht achter Iconic Elements. Hij heeft sinds 2004 zijn expertise ingezet om een veilige en effectieve huidverzorgingslijn te creëren, geschikt voor zowel gezonde huid als huidproblemen. Iconic Elements, opgericht in 2016, is de eerste brede skincare lijn in Nederland ontwikkeld door een dermatoloog. Als medisch specialist streeft Dr. Wu naar het bevorderen van het welzijn van mensen door hoogwaardige en effectieve huidverzorgingsproducten te bieden. De proefdiervrije en vegan producten vermijden schadelijke chemicaliën en bevatten natuurlijke ingrediënten.
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