Bromhidrosis refers to excessive foul smelling sweat. Other synonyms include Osmidrosis and Ozochrotia. It is diagnosed when noticeable body odour has a negative effect on an individuals self view, social interactions and Quality of Life.
2 types of Sweat glands are seen
Apocrine – It develops at puberty and usually disappears in the elderly. It usually affects axilla, anogenital (perinatal) areas and the breasts. The primary role of Apocrine glands is to secrete Pheromones.
Eccrine glands are distributed all over the body especially over the palms and soles.They are not found in the External Auditory Canal, Lips, Clitoris, Labia minora and Glans penis. Eccrine glands are primarily responsible for thermoregulation and secrete water based secretions. Eccrine Bromhidrosis can occur at any age and can be localised or generalised.
Pathogenesis of Body odour
Sweat is usually odourless and its secretion is controlled by the sympathetic nervous system. Heat, exercise, emotion, certain foods and medicines stimulate its secretion.
Apocrine glands secrete odoriferous fatty acids bound to odour binding proteins. Bacterial action releases odour causing fatty acids leading to the malodour. A variety of bacteria such as Corynebacterium, Staphylococcus, Cutibacterium (previously called Propionobacterium) and Sphinogomonas act on the apocrine secretions and produce odour. Pheromones such as Androsterone and Androsterol are also malodorous. Poor hygiene especially in diabetics and obese individuals cause odour especially with skin conditions such as Erythrasma, Intertrigo and Trichomycosis axillari.
Eccrine Bromhidrosis: Sweating leads to maceration of skin and secondary bacterial growth and skin degradation. Eccrine bromhidrosis can occur due to:
Diet – garlic, onion, curry and alcohol
Medication – Penicillins and bromides
Toxins – heavy metals
Metabolic causes – Phenylketonuria, Trimethylaminuria, Isovaline acidaemia, Hypermethioninemia.
Systemic diseases– Liver and Renal failure, Gout, Scurvy and Typhoid.
Diagnosis requires elicitation of a detailed history.
Usually Lab tests are unnecessary.
Treatment of Body Odour
1.Personal hygiene: to bathe regularly and daily but not excessively. Excess washing may cause skin irritation. Intertrigo, erythrasma need to be treated.
2.Clothing: wearing absorbent clothes/cotton clothes may help. Sweat soaked clothes need to be change immediately. Washed clothes need to be sun dried.
3.Exfoliation: to remove stratum corners may help.
Hair removal by shaving, chemical epilation, electrolysis and laser treatment may be helpful.
4.Antibiotics – applied topically may help. Topical Erythromycin and Clindamycin are commonly used. Prolonged continuous therapy may be needed.
Oral Roxithromycin 150 mg twice daily for 7-10 days may help.
5.Topical antiperspirants: Antiperspirant contain aluminium salts that plug sweat ducts and reduce seating.
6. Antifungal dusting powders may also be helpful.
7. Botulinum toxin Injection: Skin injections can temporarily reduce sweating.
8. For Refractory Localised Bromhidrosis- destruction of Apocrine glands is an option by surgical excision,Liposuction, microwave and Nd-YAG or CO2 laser can be helpful.
9. Thoracic sympathetectomy can be done with good results.
Treatment options for Axillary Hyperhidrosis (sweaty armpits)
1.Topical Antiperspirants (Aluminium containing gels) need to be applied nightly without occlusive wrappings. Topical Glycopyrrolate 2.4% can reduce sweating significantly.
2. Systemic agents – Anticholinergics- Glycopyrrolate can take up to a week for effect.
Clonidine 0.1 mg twice daily, Beta Blockers, Benzodiazepines will reduce sweating.
4. Microwave Thermolysis
5. Botulinum toxin injections can temporarily reduce sweating.
6. Surgery: Endoscopic thoracic sympathetectomy