March 29, 2012
On body odor and its remedies
Dear Dr. Perry,
Right now I want to greet you a good day. The reason I wrote to you is because of a problem I've had for more than a decade. I'll be turning 20 in April, and I'm a male nursing student hoping to graduate soon.
I would like to know if I'd be able to enjoy my life since my problem limits my activities and movements. So here are my questions:
1. I once read in your column about a girl's excessive underarm sweating. I'm just wondering if the treatment is the same for underarm odor. If not, please tell me what the cure is.
2. What causes underarm odor. Can the odor transfer to other parts of the body.
3. Lastly, what is the cost of treatment for this problem. Your answers will mean a lot to me. To give you an idea how much it means to me, try not taking a bath for a week. Would your friends still want to get anywhere near you?
4.Please answer my letter soon because I'm planning to quit school for a year to earn some money to pay for my treatment. And if you plan to publish my letter, please keep my name secret.
Dr. Perry replies:
Underarm odor us medically known as "Bromhidrosis," also known as fetid sweat and malodorous sweating. It is considered to be due to bacterial decomposition of apocrine sweat, producing fatty acids with distinctive offensive odors. Various subsrtances such as arsenic and garlic may also affect the odor of perspiration. In many instances, the complaint of bromhidrosis is a delusional state which may signal the onset of schizophrenia, though bromhidrosis is likely to be unrecognized by the patient.
Antibacterial soaps and many commercial deodorants are quite effective in controlling the malodor. Frequent bathing, changing of underclothes, shaving of the axillae, and aluminum chloride (Drysol) topically are all helpful measures.
Surgical intervention is indicated especially in the presence of axillary hyperhidrosis (excessive underarm sweating). Here, the axillary appendages (sweat glands and hair roots) are removed, thereby minimizing the production of sweat and the growth of hairs. Since the sweat is the precursor of body odor, control of its production means control of body odor formation.
This procedure is usually done under local anesthesia and on an out-patient basis, so hospitalization is not necessary. There are possible side effects after surgery but transfer of the odor to other parts of the body is certainly not one of them. Infection and bleeding are the possible immediate post-operative complications. To counteract these, antibiotics (to control infection), and hemostatics (to control bleeding) are started a couple of days before surgery, and continued post-operatively for 5-7 days.
Costs of surgery will depend on the extent of surgery to be done, and whether you can tolerate local anesthesia (area is numbed), or you need to be put to sleep (general anesthesia). These factors will determine the expense and this is discussed during consultation.
Dr. Perry de la Cruz obtained his medical degree from the University of Sto. Tomas. He is a diplomate of the Philippine Board of Cosmetic Surgery; a fellow of the Philippine Society for Cosmetic Surgery and the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery; and a member of the Asian Pacific Academy of Cosmetic Surgery. He pioneered research on "Serial Revision of Leg Scars" in 1988. He holds clinic at:
Asian Hospital and Medical Center
Unit 518 Medical Office Building
205 Civic Drive, Alabang, Muntinlupa City
Telephone no. (632) 771-9246
Medical Center Manila
Suite 207 2nd floor
1122 Gen. Luna, Ermita, Manila
Telephone no. (632) 521-7370
Visit his web site at www.geocities.com/docperryster or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.