Bromhidrosis: A Guide to Sweaty and Smelly Armpits

Bromhidrosis: A Guide to Sweaty and Smelly Armpits

 In this article, we’ll share everything you need to know about bromhidrosis including how to know you have it, what causes it, and how can you treat it. 

There’s no way around it: people can be smelly sometimes. Between showers, when we get sweaty and dirty, our bodies naturally produce an odor. That’s why we have soap, deodorant, and perfume, after all. For most people, managing BO is a pretty easy thing to do, and you don’t have to spend too much time or energy worrying about how you smell.

But for some people, it’s not that easy. Some of us simply can’t seem to manage our stink no matter how many showers we take a day or how much we douse ourselves in body spray. It’s easy to joke about but the truth is that this can be a pretty serious problem. Having a body odor issue can significantly decrease your confidence in a variety of important situations such as work, school, and dating. 

That’s why it can be such a relief when you understand that what you’re going through might actually be a real, diagnosable medical condition: bromhidrosis. In this article, we’ll share everything you need to know about bromhidrosis including how to know you have it, what causes it, and how can you treat it. 

Bromhidrosis: A Guide to Sweaty and Smelly Armpits

What Is Bromhidrosis? 

Bromhidrosis, also called osmidrosis and bromidrosis, is a medical condition that is common in people after puberty. It is when somebody experiences excessive or abnormal body odor emanating from the skin.

There are two types of bromhidrosis.

  • Apocrine bromhidrosis - The most common type of bromhidrosis, apocrine bromhidrosis is caused by the bacterial decomposition of the oils secreted from the apocrine glands. These decompositions produce ammonia and short-chain fatty acids which give off a bad odor. There are also bacteria on the skin that can react with sweat to produce more odorous acids. 
    • Eccrine bromhidrosis - Secretions from the eccrine glands are usually odorless but with eccrine bromhidrosis, they can produce a bad odor. This is usually caused by consuming certain things like strong-flavored foods (think of garlic and curry), alcohol, medication, and other toxins. It can also be caused by an underlying illness. 

    Bromhidrosis is considered pathological when it becomes intense enough that it interferes with the lives of the affected individuals, impairing their quality of life.

    Diagnosis and Treatment 

    Bromhidrosis is usually diagnosed when a strong, noticeable body odor has a negative effect on an individual's self-esteem, social life, and/or quality of life. If you believe that you may have bromhidrosis, you should see a doctor who will take a medical history and perform an examination in order to try to identify an underlying cause. 

    While it may be embarrassing to tell a doctor that you think that you might suffer from bromhidrosis, you should know that they have seen every condition under the sun and will never judge you. And if you do get a correct diagnosis, it can be life-changing by helping guide you to treatment options that will help.

    Indeed, there are a lot of different treatments that you can try out to help your bromhidrosis. These include:

    Lifestyle Treatments

    The first type of treatment that can help improve and manage bromhidrosis is modifications to your lifestyle that can be practiced relatively easily without having to consult a medical doctor.

  • Practicing improved personal hygiene - Hey, we all forget to shower every so often. No judgment there. But one of the first steps that you can take to help improve your body odor is to practice good personal hygiene. This means showering daily, washing your hands throughout the day and after every time you use the bathroom, keeping up with dental hygiene, and so on. 
  • Try unscented products - While it may seem counterintuitive, the fragrance chemicals used in personal hygiene products can often interact with your body’s natural odor to create an even worse odor. That’s why it can be helpful to switch to unscented products. 
  • Properly use antiperspirant - If you sweat heavily, deodorant isn’t always enough to manage your body odor. It can be helpful to add an antiperspirant to your routine, as well. For the best results, choose an antiperspirant with high aluminum chloride content, apply it onto dry skin (including your hands and head if those are problem areas for you), and apply it at night before you go to sleep.
  • Exfoliate regularly - The more that the bacteria living on your skin has to feed it, the worse your bromhidrosis will be. That’s why it can be a good idea to exfoliate regularly to remove dead skin cells. 
  • Remove body hair - Another thing that can make your bromhidrosis worse is the microorganisms that grow on your body hair. Removing this body hair can reduce the presence of bacteria and fungus - plus offer a better, smoother surface for your antiperspirant to apply onto. 
  • Change your diet - Certain foods can make you smell worse, which is why modifying your diet is a treatment option for bromhidrosis. The following changes can make the biggest difference:
      • Reducing your consumption of beef and pork, which contain an amino acid that can contribute to body odor
      • Eating more fiber to improve your body’s natural detoxification processes
      • Eat more citrus fruits, which can flush out compounds that contribute to body odor
      • Avoid garlic and onion which give off a strong scent
      • Eat fermented probiotic foods that promote gut health and digestion

    Bromhidrosis: A Guide to Sweaty and Smelly Armpits

    Tend to get stinky when you sweat? Social Citizen’s sweat-proof Social Tee is designed to help keep you stay clean and fresh all day. 

    Medical treatments

    While it will be easier to modify your lifestyle than to undergo one of the following medical treatment options for bromhidrosis, these might be worth considering if you find that lifestyle change isn’t enough.

      • Surgeries including laser apocrine sweat gland removal, superficial liposuction, and apocrine gland removal
  • Antibacterial medications like clindamycin, erythromycin benzoyl peroxide, and antiseptic soaps
  • Botox (OnabotulinumtoxinA), which can help reduce sweating 
  • Prescription-strength antiperspirant which has a higher amount of the active ingredient aluminum chloride that works by blocking your sweat glands
  • Causes of Bromhidrosis 

    There are actually a lot of potential reasons why a person might experience bromhidrosis in the form of apocrine secretions or bacterial imbalances. These include both medical conditions and lifestyle habits. Potential causes of bromhidrosis are:

  • Inadequate personal hygiene
  • Obesity
      • Diabetes mellitus - a disorder in which the body doesn’t produce enough or respond normally to insulin, causing blood sugar  levels to be abnormally high
      • Intertrigo - inflammation caused by skin-to-skin friction
      • Trichomycosis axillaris -  a superficial bacterial infection of underarm hair
      • Erythrasma - a common chronic skin condition affecting the skin folds caused by an infection by the bacterium Corynebacterium minutissimum
      • Colonization of bacteria 
  • Negative effects of laser hair removal
      • A diet rich in garlic or other spicy ingredients
  • Certain medications
    • Hyperhidrosis - abnormally excessive sweating that isn’t necessarily related to heat or exercise

    As you can see, there are many factors that can potentially contribute to bromhidrosis which is why it’s recommended to speak to a doctor about it, as they are qualified to help you find a cause for your excessive body odor.

    Prevention of Bromhidrosis 

    The best way to prevent bromhidrosis is to live a healthy, hygienic lifestyle. This includes eating a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight, keeping your body clean, and properly managing any excessive sweating problems that you might have. That being said, sometimes there isn’t anything you can do and you continue to experience bromhidrosis through no fault of your own. That is when it can make sense to try out medical treatments like those listed above.

    How Social Citizen Sweat Proof T-Shirts Can Help You

    As we mentioned a few times throughout this article, one thing that can make bromhidrosis worse is excessive sweating. After all, one of the causes of bromhidrosis is when your sweat interacts with the bacteria on your skin. That’s why it can be a good idea to wear clothing made to help with sweating like Social Citizen’s sweatproof Social Tee

    The Social Tee is made with an underarm pad designed to stop 100% of sweat stains - guaranteed. Best of all, it’s made with antimicrobial bamboo which is a material that can also fight odors. That way, you’ll be fighting sweat while reducing your body odor all at the same time.

    And don’t worry, the Social Tee doesn’t look like some kind of medical device. Made in three fashionable, neutral colors, it’s designed to blend into your closet and become your new favorite t-shirt to wear. Check it out here in both men’s and women’s cuts.

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