What Causes Armpit Chemical Scent?

For this entire year I've had this chemical scent in my underarms, it happens with or without excercise, every single day, a couple of hours after shower and stains clothes. I checked for H pylori, Ammonia and liver panels, everything is normal. I took antibiotics for 1 week it went away so now that I know Im healthy otherwise, I have no clue where this is coming from. I changed my diet to super healthy and I do workout everyday. I feel like Im losing my mind with this, its totally embarrasing.

Doctor Answers 5

Bromhidrosis from the underarms - consider miraDry

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Apocrine bromhidrosis is the condition where there is a pungent odor and typically presents with the underarms, although it can occur from other parts of the hair bearing skin. Several known chemical factors result in this type of bromhidrosis. Typical is the bacterial decomposition of ammonia and short-chain fatty acids, with their characteristic strong odors. The most abundant of these acids is (E)-3-methyl-2-hexanoic acid (E-3M2H), which is brought to the skin surface bound by 2 apocrine secretion odor-binding proteins, ASOB1 and ASOB2. So, this is the 'scientific answer' that you are looking for and in my experience with miraDry, this is ameliorated with the miraDry procedure in better than 80% of cases.

Cause and Treatment for Armpit Smell

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 Miradry is the best way to correct your problem. Excess sweat (hyperhydrosis), and smelly armpits (bromhydrosis) are caused by eccrine (sweat) and apocrine glands whose secretion is modified by bacteria causing a bad odor. Miradry eliminates these glands permanently and solves both problems. You will never need to use deodorant again.


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MiraDry can help with your underarm odor.  Many of my patients experience complete elimination of odor after two session. 

Armpit chemical scent

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What you are describing is most likely bromhidrosis, which is a condition of abnormal or offensive body odor.  Apocrine bromhidrosis is the most common type of bromhidrosis and is due to bacterial breakdown of apocrine sweat within the armpit area with fatty acids and ammonia as the major products of bacterial breakdown.  Apocrine bromhidrosis occurs after puberty, since the apocrine glands are not active until puberty.  Eccrine bromhidrosis can be caused by certain metabolic conditions as well as by ingestion of certain foods and drugs.  One sideline - you mention that "you feel like you are losing our mind" - there is bromhidrosiphobia which is condition in which a person is convinced that his/her sweat has a repugnant odor when in fact there may be minimal odor.  I'm not saying you are losing your mind.  It is best that you be evaluated by a physician for your symptoms.   If this is apocrine bromhidrosis, there are measures that can help and there may be some treatment options that could work well.  It is best to discuss and develop a treatment plan with your physician.  (This answer is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for medical advice. The information presented in this posting is for patients’ general education only.  Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider for further evaluation of your individual case.)

Mireille Chae, MD
Seattle Dermatologist

Los Angeles Miradry Treatment

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Miradry has helped some patients with Bromohidrosis and Hyperhidrosis. The source of your chemical scent in your armpits cannot be ascertained without an examination.

Raffy Karamanoukian MD FACS

Los Angeles

Raffy Karamanoukian, MD, FACS
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 95 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.