Skin Health
Bromhidrosis: Excessive Sweating, Strong Odor
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What Is Bromhidrosis?

Bromhidrosis is a perceived “bad smell” mostly from the axillary (underarm / armpit) area (if it is apocrine bromhidrosis) although it can be from other parts of the body as well (eccrine bromhidrosis). Apocrine and eccrine refer to the two types of sudoriferous (sweat) glands that we have.

Eccrine glands:

Located over the body, but most numerous on the palms of the hand and soles of the feet. They produce a more dilute, watery sweat when the body has an increase in temperature. Eccrine sweat is actually usually devoid of odor. However, it can start to smell if … – Bacteria have the opportunity to break down the stale sweat, – After ingesting some foods, alcohol, or some medications.

Apocrine glands:

Located in specific areas that include the underarms, breasts, and groin region. They produce a thicker secretion that contains pheromones. In terms of smell, apocrine sweat is also odorless at first. The odor develops when bacteria breaks down the sweat.

What Causes Body Odor?

All humans normally have certain bacteria and other microorganisms. We all have bacteria that normally live on the skin. Some of us have more of a type of microorganism that other people. And sometimes, this profusion of a particular microorganism can lead to certain problems or concerns. In “sweat acne”, for example, a fungus called pityrosporum that normally lives in skin proliferates and causes acne-like bumps in the sweater areas of the skin.

In bromhidrosis, in the apocrine areas, bacteria start to break down the sweat. When this happens, the sweat can start to manifest odor. The higher the level of bacteria or sweat production, the more strong or foul-smelling the odor can be. The odor happens in part because bacterial breakdown results in fatty acids and ammonia. Apocrine bromhidrosis is the most common type of bromhidrosis, mostly occurring in the armpit. If hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating) is also a concern, the hyperhydrosis usually must be addressed concurrently for successful management of the bromhidrosis.

IMPORTANT – Much of the management of bromhidrosis is related to these two main goals:

1) To control and eliminate the number of naturally-occurring skin bacteria, and

2) To keep the skin in the area (in the case of apocrine bromhidrosis, this would be the underarm/armpit) as dry and sweat-free as possible.

Is there any Body Odor Treatment?

The primary treatments for mild cases of underarm or armpit odor are usually improved hygiene and topical management, sweat control and the use of antibacterial, antimicrobial products. Here are effective tips on how you can prevent of having bromhidrosis or how to eliminate underarm sweating and body odor:


1. Avoid scented products.

  • Sometimes the cause of the bromhidrosis can be the scent of sweat interacting with perfumes in products that you use (including laundry soaps, body soap, etc.).
  • Similarly, the scent of an antiperspirant can be a cause of the perceived bad smell.
  • It may seem counter-intuitive but totally fragrance-free products (free of “perfume-y” as well as masking fragrances and nice-smelling natural extracts) can significantly reduce the risk of unpleasant interactions between the bacterial odor and the product’s fragrances or scents.


2. Wash regularly, at least twice a day. Look for:
  • A mild cleanser to avoid irritations as frequent washing might be necessary. Liquid or cream washes may be preferable over hard soaps which, due to the way they are made, have high pH levels that can denature and be irritating to the skin. If skin is irritated, frequent washing and even the use of an effective antiperspirant may be impossible.
  • A cleanser with germicidal, antibacterial, and antimicrobial properties can be helpful. This is especially true for the armpit area if the condition is localized there.
  • Some recommendations: Both VMV HYPOALLERGENICS® Essence Superwash Skin-Saving Hair and Body Milk Shampoo and Grandma Minnies Coo & Clean Baby Wash are very gentle cleansers that help prevent irritations even with very frequent washing.
    • Both contain monolaurin, an effective yet skin-safe antibacterial, antiviral, antiprotozoal disinfectant that could help prevent bacterial growth.
    • Both are 100% All-Types-Of-Fragrance-Free.


3. Shave or remove hair regularly.
This is important to help prevent accumulation of bacteria and sweat on hair shafts (particularly armpit hair). – Use an antibacterial, antifungal, antimicrobial antiperspirant. Bacteria breaking down the proteinaceous material of sweat can produce the perceived bad scent. This is why antiperspirants with antibacterial and antimicrobial properties can be very helpful. Some recommendations for excessive body odor remediesEssence Skin-Saving Antiperspirant or Illuminants+ Axillight Treatment Antiperspirant.
  • Both these antiperspirants contain very high concentrations (Illuminants+ has a higher concentration) of aluminum chlorhydrate to help control sweat.
  • Both also contain monolaurin for added antibacterial, disinfectant and antimicrobial properties.
  • Both are 100% All-Types-Of-Fragrance-Free and are gentle enough for frequent re-application.


4. Keep affected areas dry.
  • Because keeping the area dry is a priority, we would also recommend either our Id Monolaurin Gel or Grandma Minnies Kid Gloves Hand Sanitizer.
  • Each is formulated specifically as an antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, antimicrobial disinfectant that keeps skin drier and more sweat-free.
  • By keeping the Id Gel or Kid Gloves and Essence or Illuminants+ Antiperspirant handy all day, you can reapply frequently to help better control the condition.
  • Both are 100% All-Types-Of-Fragrance-Free and are gentle enough for frequent re-application.
OTHER TIPS: If hair growth needs better management, you may want to ask your doctor about electrolysis or phototherapy options to remove hair shaft and follicle.
Remove sweaty clothing as quickly as possible to reduce the risk of bacteria growth. Ask your dermatologist to examine you for possible coexisting skin conditions such as intertrigo, erythrasma and trichomycosis axillaris, which may need to be treated.


If the bromhidrosis is more than a minor case, the products and practices mentioned above may help but not completely address the problem for the long term. In such cases, our fragrance-free, antibacterial body and bath care products can help with maintenance and preventive care, but your doctor may recommend adding more advanced treatment options such as: – The injection of Botox® or a similar medicine to stop the production of sweat in the area for several months, or – Chemical or surgical sympathectomy iontophoresis (not always effective and can cause irritations)
  • Sympathectomy (removal of spinal sympathetic nerves): this is a major procedure and may or may not be effective over the long term
  • The removal of the sweat glands via superficial liposuction or surgery
  • Anticholinergic or beta-blocking drugs (some side effects are possible; check with your doctor)
For any of these options, seek the care of a qualified dermatologist, ideally a specialist in or someone with lots of experience in the body odor remedies.

Click here for tips on selecting a dermatologist