What Is The Cause Of A Strong Body Odor?

In many cases, strong body odor occurs as a result of excessive sweating. However, there are some other contributing factors. Read on to learn more about them!
What is the cause of a strong body odor?

Bromine hydrosis is a common condition that severely affects a person’s quality of life, and a strong body odor is a classic symptom. This is a rather unpleasant odor that transmits strong non-verbal signals and is a source of social embarrassment for some people. It is especially bad when the person has selective anosmia – an inability to perceive the smell, and is thus ignorant.

Perspiration in itself has no stench. An unpleasant odor only appears when sweat comes in contact with bacteria on the skin. Many people try to treat or prevent it by changing their hygiene habits, although there are also some medical alternatives. Below you will find more details about this condition.

Causes of a strong body odor (bromine hydrosis)

According to studies published in the International Journal of Cosmetic Science, bromine hydrosis is due to the biotransformation of naturally odorless secretions into volatile odorous molecules. It is naturally associated with excessive sweating. In other words, the condition occurs more often among people who sweat more.

Microbiome concludes that corynebacterium in the resident microflora of the armpit is important for this biotransformation. Obesity can also be a contributing factor to bromine hydrosis. The background mechanism is the change these molecules undergo when they are metabolized by the mentioned microorganisms.

A pair of foul-smelling shoes
A strong body odor occurs when sweat comes in contact with bacteria on the skin.

Causes of a strong body odor

These are the two types of sweat glands, and all people have them:

  • Eccrine glands, located all over the body.
  • Apocrine glands, located in the armpits, breasts and groin area.

The apocrine glands are not activated until puberty. This is why strong body odor is not usually a problem among younger children. It is a sign of growth and development when it emerges.

The interaction between secretion from the axillary apocrine sweat glands and bacteria, which generate unsaturated fatty acids with a special odor, is an important mechanism. This odor must be present for someone to be diagnosed with bromine hydrosis. 

The bacterial metabolism of apocrine sweat is what usually causes odor. However, eccrine sweating can also be offensive. This second situation is often triggered by the intake of certain substances, such as garlic and alcohol.

Prevention of a strong body odor

There are many conservative treatment measures that patients who consult their GP due to strong body odor have already tried. However, medications and surgery are the most commonly used approaches when it comes to bromine hydrosis.

Surgery – sympathectomy

The most preferred treatment for bromidehidrosis is surgery, although doctors reserve it for severe cases. However, postoperative complications and scars are common side effects of surgical treatments.

It is best suited for patients who do not respond to medical treatment and whose daily activities are significantly affected by hyperhidrosis. According to studies conducted by the Annals of Surgery , thoracoscopic sympathectomy is the last resort for therapeutic treatment of palmar, axillary and craniofacial hyperhidrosis. It works by interrupting the fibers in the sympathetic nodes.

Botulinum toxin

The main mechanism of action of the botulinum toxin for bromine hydrosis is to inhibit the release of acetylcholine from the sympathetic nerves that innervate the eccrine mammary glands. The treatment is effective on the palms and soles of the feet, although painful injections can be a limiting factor for some.

The dose for intradermal injections depends on the area. For example, doctors use 50 to 100 units in the armpits. The main disadvantage of treatment with botulinum toxin is that the effect only lasts for a couple of months, so the person will require several applications within a year.

Antiperspirants with aluminum compounds

Most deodorants found at the grocery store contain aluminum chloride. However, the more potent varieties contain aluminum chlorohydrate. Agents with this drug prevent the growth of foul-smelling bacteria.

These metal salts also reduce the amount of sweat by blocking the excretory ducts of the sweat glands in addition to minimizing the water source that promotes bacterial growth. Topical application should be applied once a day, usually in the evening, when the skin is dry.

Man applies deodorant

Recommendations for people with bromine hydrosis

Both hyperhidrosis and bromidehidrosis are common and troublesome conditions since they complicate social activities. Sensitive handling and appropriate referral can help minimize the impact on the patient’s quality of life, both individually and functionally.

Regular cleaning and shaving under the arms is also helpful. Fragrant antiperspirants are the most commonly used treatment when it comes to dealing with body odor. This is because they reduce the amount of sweat in addition to being bactericidal.

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