Bromidrosyphobia (fear of body odor): symptoms, causes and treatment

The body aromas, smells, or scents emitted by each person are usually something that the rest of the population often dislikes. Contexts such as locker rooms, gymnasiums or testing rooms can become really unpleasant places due to the effects of body scent.

However, when this aversion becomes a real and heightened fear or fear, it is very possible that we are faced with a case of bromidrosyphobia, a specific type of phobia which we will talk about throughout this article.

    What is bromidrosyphobia?

    Hydrosyphobia is classified as a specific anxiety disorder or specific phobia. Like all other pathological fears, bromidrosyphobia it has a specific element at the origin of this fear: body odor.

    Considering the etymological roots of the term, we can separate the concept into three words of Greek origin. The first of these “jokes” can be literally translated as stench or plague, “hydros” refers to sweat, while “phobos” is understood as an expression referring to fear or fear.

    Like other specific personality disorders, when people with bromidrosyphobia meet or think they are going to encounter the dreaded stimulus, they will experience a series of emotions and physical manifestations typical of very high anxiety states.

    Although most people experience some degree of aversion or disgust with other people’s body odor, this is not a sufficient reason to consider it a phobia.

      The limits of phobia

      Be able to establish a difference between a usual feeling of aversion and a pathological phobia or fear we need to look at the consequences or direct effects of this phobia on a person’s daily life.

      Thus, if the person who feels this fear of body odor arrives to the point of experiencing strong reactions of anxiety to the perception of these and prevents him from carrying out his daily tasks normally, it is strongly recommended to consult a doctor. psychologist.

      Also keep in mind a number of requirements or qualities inherent in fear disorders, Which define phobias and allow their diagnosis. These requirements are as follows.

      1. It’s a disproportionate fear

      The first point that must be considered in order to differentiate between a rational fear and a habitual feeling of fear or aversion, is that in bromidrosiphobia the fear absolutely must be disproportionate to the actual threat that the phobic stimulus, In this case, body odor, represents.

      2. It’s irrational

      People with bromidrosiphobia are completely unable to find a reasonable and justified explanation for their fear, so much so that in many of these cases the person is fully aware of the benignity of the phobic stimulus, but still it is inevitable that the anxiety response will appear in front of him.

      3. It’s out of control

      In addition to being irrational, the fear that a person with bromidrosiphobia suffers from is absolutely out of control for them. This means that the person is unable to prevent the onset of anxiety and fear reactions, just as they are unable to control them when they are experienced.

      These symptoms appear automatically and suddenly, And do not disappear until the person has successfully escaped or avoided the phobic stimulus.

      What are the symptoms?

      Hydrosyphobia belonging to the category of specific phobias, the clinical picture it presents is similar to that of other anxiety disorders of this type. These symptoms of an anxious nature appear whenever the person perceives the aroma of body odor from themselves or the other, even if that person is not clearly visible.

      Therefore, in bromidrosyphobia, physical, cognitive and behavioral symptoms will appear:

      1. Physical symptoms

      Some of the first symptoms a patient experiences when they perceive a strong body odor they are due to the hyperactivity that this generates in the person’s nervous system. This increase in functioning leads to all kinds of transformational changes in the body.

      Throughout the anxiety episode, the person may experience many physical symptoms. These include:

      • Increased heart rate.
      • Increased respiratory rate.
      • Feeling of suffocation or shortness of breath.
      • Increased muscle tension.
      • Headache.
      • Pain in the stomach.
      • Increased sweating.
      • Scared of heights.
      • Nausea and / or vomiting.

      2. Cognitive symptoms

      Bromidrosyphobia is associated with a number of beliefs and speculations regarding fear or aversion to body odors and aromas.

      These distorted thoughts lead to the development of this phobia and stand out because the person incorporates a series of illogical beliefs about the dangers or possible effects of body odor.

      3. Behavioral symptoms

      Like other phobias, bromidrosyphobia is also made up of a number of behavioral symptoms. This behavioral symptomatology it manifests itself by avoidance ducts and evacuation ducts.

      The first type of behavior refers to all those behaviors or acts that the person performs in order to avoid encountering the phobic stimulus. Thanks to them, it is possible to avoid experiencing feelings of anguish and anxiety generated by the situation.

      On the other hand, escape behaviors appear when the person has not been able to avoid treating the object of his phobia, in this case the perception of body aromas, he will therefore carry out all kinds of behaviors necessary to escape the phobia. situation in which he is involved.

      What are the causes?

      Determining the origin of a phobia can become an extremely complex task and even more so for those who, like bromidrosyphobia, they do not have any component or characteristics that give them a particular danger.

      However, certain factors can favor or favor its development. For example, the existence of a genetic predisposition that worsens the effects of anxiety, coupled with the experience or experience of a highly traumatic situation or a high load of emotional content will most likely trigger the onset. of this phobia or any other phobia.

      Is there a treatment?

      In most cases, bromidrosyphobia does not become incapacitating because the number of situations in which a person is faced with the perception of strong body odor is usually relatively low (especially in some countries, due to climatic issues), so that psychological consultations for this type of pathology are generally reduced.

      However, if the person experiences high levels of anxiety due to this excessive fear of body aromas, there are a number of psychological interventions or treatments which can cause the person to rest and overcome their phobic fear.

      These interventions are based on three principles or psychological actions. The first is cognitive restructuring that changes all of those distorted thoughts that the person has about body odor.

      Then, live exposure or systematic desensitization techniques can be performed, Whereby the person is gradually exposed to the dreaded stimulus. Either directly or through exercises with mental images.

      Finally, these techniques are accompanied by training in relaxation techniques, which reduces the levels of excitation in the nervous system and helps the person to cope as well as possible with his fears.

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