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

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

June 14, 2024

The aromas, smells or body fragrances that each and every one of the people send out are usually something to which the rest of the population tends to feel aversion. Contexts such as changing rooms, gyms or changing rooms can become really unpleasant places due to the effects of body effluvia.

However, when this aversion becomes a real and exacerbated fear or fear, it is very possible that we are facing a case of Bromidrosiphobia, a type of specific phobia which we will discuss throughout this article.

  • Related article: "Types of phobias: exploring the disorders of fear"

What is bromidrosiphobia?

Bromidrosiphobia is classified as specific anxiety disorders or specific phobias. Like the rest of pathological fears, bromidrosiphobia It has a specific element that causes this fear: body odors .

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

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

Despite the fact that most people experience a certain degree of aversion or disgust before the foreign body odors, this is not enough reason to consider it as a phobia.

  • Maybe you're interested: "What's the use of fear?"

The limits of phobia

To be able to establish a difference between a feeling of habitual aversion and a phobia or pathological fear we must take into account what consequences or direct effects this phobia has on the person's daily life.

In this way, if the person who feels this fear of body odors reaches the point of experiencing strong reactions of anxiety before the perception of these and prevents him from performing normal daily tasks, it is highly recommended that you consult with a professional psychologist .

In addition, we must take into account a series of requirements or qualities of fear disorders , which define phobias and allow their diagnosis. These requirements are the following.

1. It is a disproportionate fear

The first point that has to be examined to differentiate between a rational fear and a habitual sensation of fear or aversion, is that in the bromidrosiphobia the miede must be absolutely disproportionate compared to the real threat that the phobic stimulus , in this case body odor, represents.

2. It is irrational

People with bromidrosiphobia are completely unable to find a reasonable and justified explanation for their fear, to the point that, in many of these cases, the person is perfectly aware of how benign the phobic stimulus is, but still it is inevitable that the anxiety response appears before him .

3. It is uncontrollable

In addition to irrational, the fear that a person with bromidrosiphobia suffers is absolutely uncontrollable for her. This means that the person is unable to prevent the reactions of anxiety and fear from appearing, just as he is unable to control them when he experiences them.

These symptoms originate automatically and suddenly , and only disappear when the person has managed to escape or avoid the phobic stimulus.

What symptoms does it present?

Since bromidrosiphobia is classified within 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 each time the person perceives the aroma of body odor of oneself or another, even if this person is not clearly visible.

Therefore, both physical, cognitive and behavioral symptoms will appear in bromidrosiphobia:

1. Physical symptoms

Some of the first symptoms that the patient experiences before the perception of a strong body odor are due to the hyperactivity that this generates in the nervous system of the person . This increase in functioning gives rise to all kinds of transformational changes in the organism.

Throughout the episode of anxiety, the person may experience a lot of physical symptoms. These include:

  • Increase in heart rate .
  • Increase in the respiratory rate.
  • Choking sensation or lack of air.
  • Increase in muscle tension
  • Headaches
  • Stomach pains
  • Increased sweating .
  • Sensation of dizziness.
  • Nausea and / or vomiting

2. Cognitive symptoms

Bromidrosiphobia is associated with a series of beliefs and speculations in relation to the fear or aversion to smells and body aromas.

These distorted thoughts drive the development of this phobia and they are distinguished because the person integrates a series of illogical beliefs about the possible dangers or effects of the corporal odors.

3. Behavioral symptoms

Like the other phobias, bromidrosiphobia is also composed of a series of behavioral symptoms. Said behavioral symptomatology manifested by avoidance behaviors and escape behaviors .

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 the experimentation of feelings of anguish and anxiety that the situation generates.

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

What causes does it have?

Determining the origin of a phobia can become a highly complex task and more so in those that, like bromidrosiphobia, they do not have a component or characteristics that give them special danger .

In any case, there are certain factors that may favor or enhance the development of this. For example, the existence of a genetic predisposition that aggravates the effects of anxiety, together with the experience or experimentation of a highly traumatic situation or with a large emotional content load, will most likely trigger the appearance of this or any other phobia.

Is there a treatment?

In most cases, bromidrosiphobia does not become incapacitating since the number of situations in which a person is faced with the perception of strong body odors is usually relatively low (especially in certain countries, due to climatic reasons), so that psychological consultations for this type of pathology are usually reduced.

However, if the person does experience high levels of anguish because of this excessive fear of body aromas, there are a series of psychological interventions or treatments that can get the person to recover and overcome their phobic fear.

These interventions are based on three principles or psychological actions. The first one consists of a cognitive restructuring that allows to modify all those distorted thoughts that the person possesses with respect to the corporal odors.

Then, can be carried out techniques of live exposure or systematic desensitization , through which the person is exposed gradually to the feared stimulus. Well directly or through exercises with mental images.

Finally, these techniques are accompanied by a training in relaxation skills, which can reduce the levels of nervous system excitement and help the person to face their fears in the best possible way.

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