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What causes unusual odor from my skin?

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Practicing since : 2005
Answered : 1919 Questions
Good day, I am a 47 YOF w a strange new issue. My skin has an unusual odor. Almost like burnt meat. Additionally, I seem to smell this w random foods and my husbands deodorant. There is no pattern I can detect w the foods and his deodorant is the same one he has used for years.
Posted Mon, 3 Feb 2014 in General Health
Answered by Dr. Johny Chacko 2 hours later
Brief Answer: ? Bromhydrosis Detailed Answer: Hello, Welcome to health care magic. From your history and description, you could be having a condition called as Bromhydrosis. It is characterised by unusual and foul smelling odour especially from the underarms and private parts, due to an overgrowth of bacteria around a type of gland called apocrine glands concentrated in these body areas. It generally worsens with intake of garlic and onions. So it is better to avoid those in your diet as both these are eliminated in your sweat and secretions. But I suggest you observe the pattern with foods and try to eliminate the incriminating food stuffs from your diet as well. As far as use of deodrants is concerned, there is no medically proven relation as such. But if you strongly associate the odour with your husband' s deodrant, it is better to stop it. For the treatment of this condition, you could apply a cream containing 2% Fusidic acid twice a day for 15 days on the underarms, around nipples and areola and in the private parts and sides of the groin. If this alone is giving complete relief, you could take a course of oral Erythromycin for 1 week. This problem tends to recur. Hence, you can use the cream on and off for 10-15 days during recurrences. Hope this helps you. If you have further queries, I would be glad to help you. Take care.
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Follow-up: What causes unusual odor from my skin? 9 minutes later
Appreciate your response. The odor is only on my hands and forearms. My axilla and groin are not affected. I also mentioned an increased sensitivity to food odors. Is there any common link or by-products of over cooked meats and deodorant like maybe aluminum? I know this sounds wacky and I will certainly take into account your suggestions. I too am a healthcare provider ( Nurse Anesthetist) and cannot explain this new nuisance. ??
Answered by Dr. Johny Chacko 1 hour later
Brief Answer: please clarify Detailed Answer: Hello, Welcome back. Could you please clarify what exactly you mean by "sensitivity" to certain meats. Do you mean to say that the foul smell increases on consuming certain meats or is it only when you touch/ cook the meat? It is possible that when you cook certain meat, the smell can linger on your hands and forearms. However, there is no medically known by product or link between meat and deodorant as you have asked. ( In fact, aluminum hexahydrate is used in the treatment of excessive sweating of palms.) Another point is that Bromhydrosis can occur in any part of the body with increased sweating and is not strictly confined to axillae and groin ( though they are the classically described and common areas). So if you are sweating more on the palms and forearms, you could develop the odour there too. Since you mentioned that you are a nurse, have you started using any different type of gloves lately? Sometimes, glove powders can linger and cause a peculiar odour later. Please clarify these points so that we can try to solve your problem.
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Follow-up: What causes unusual odor from my skin? 1 hour later
Great ques. So nothing new w respect to gloves at work. No increased sweating. I guess the best way I can describe the sensitivity is upon eating cooked meats I am finding the smell unpleasant with a burnt or metallic odor. There is no specific meat type. I feel like this odor I detect is also present on my skin. This is irrespective of whether I am cooking, preparing or eating at a restaurant. I'm wondering if I should just chalk it up to phantom smells. I wish I could be more specific as that is def the challenge.
Answered by Dr. Johny Chacko 48 minutes later
Brief Answer: ? Bromhydrosis Detailed Answer: Hello, Thanks for your clarification. From your description, I can only fit in your symptoms into Bromhydrosis. Phantom smells are usually associated with a neurological disorders and frontal lobe injuries, which I do not see in your medical history. I feel we could try tackling your problem ( skin odour) this way - 1. You could take a course of Tab. Erythromycin or Roxithromycin for 10 days. This will get rid of any unwanted bacteria which has overgrown in the apocrine glands all over the body. 2. Try to eliminate meat from your diet and observe if the condition improves. 3. Also, try to eliminate strong additives ( if you are using in seasoning) like garlic, onion or onion powder and strong spices. 4. If you are taking any additional vitamin supplements like fish capsules ( cod liver oil) , please stop that as well. 5. Please also re check your thyroid status by doing a free T3, free T4 and TSH levels as uncontrolled hypothyroidism can also cause vague sensory symptoms. 6. Since you have mentioned mild depression in your medical history, last but not the least, if above medical measures do not help you, we have to rule out functional disorders. You could consult a psychiatrist to assess if these could be related to your mild depression. Let us hope these steps will help you and give you relief. Take care.
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