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By David M. Pariser, MD, Eastern Virginia Medical School

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Bromhidrosis is excessive or abnormal body odor caused by decomposition by bacteria and yeasts of apocrine secretions and cellular debris.

Apocrine secretions are lipid-rich, sterile, and odorless but become odoriferous when decomposed. Decomposition of eccrine sweat is not as fragrant because eccrine sweat is nearly 100% water. The cause of apocrine bromhidrosis is poor hygiene of skin and clothing.

In some people, a few days of washing with an antiseptic soap, which may be combined with use of antibacterial creams containing clindamycin or erythromycin, may be necessary. Shaving the hair in the armpits may also help control odor.

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