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Bromhidrosis - 'smelly, sweaty areas'
Bromhidrosis refers to sweat that has an offensive odour and is a chronic or continuous condition. The condition usually begins in the years that follow puberty. Body malodour is generally produced by the action of bacterial decomposition of fatty substances secreted by the apocrine glands. In and of itself, sweat is odourless, or least is not malodorous.
Factors associated with bromhidrosis include excess sweating, obesity and poor body hygiene.
The culprit glands
Apocrine glands play an essential role in the development of bromhidrosis. These are distributed in the underarms, genitals and breasts. As such, these can become 'hot spots' for bad odour. They can also be found in the areas around the eyes and ears. In contrast to the eccrine glands, they are not involved in the maintenance of body temperature or thermoregulation.
The aprocrine glands secrete an oily fluid that is normally odourless as it reached the surface of the skin. In cases that involve excessive sweating, a water-rich environment is produced that supports a robust bacterial population. Keep in mind that bacteria are always present as part of a normal microbiotic flora. The problem is that profuse sweating encourages bacteria to multiply in greater numbers. If numerous bacteria are present (poor hygiene, skin folds) these will process the fatty substance from the secretions. The resulting decomposition of these substances gives rise to the characteristic odour.
Having said this, bromhidrosis be can be present in regions other than those occupied with apocrine glands. Regions populated with eccrine glands can also give rise to bromhidrosis. Since bacteria thrive in warm and moist areas, any region of the body has the potential of creating the conditions responsible for malodour. Easy to see how sweaty feet dwelling in rubber boots for a whole day give rise to ‘smelly feet’ (particularly if accompanied with poor hygiene)
Some foods including garlic, onion, curry, alcohol may cause bromhidrosis - certain drugs such as penicillins and bromides can also be responsible.