Foul Smell: A Case of Armpit Hair Infection

The New England Journal of Medicine

Body odor is an integral part of a person’s hygiene. This is a case of a man who had no control over what he smelled like. This is because the foul smell emanating from his body was due to an armpit hair infection.

The 40-year-old presented with the complaint of foul-smelling body odor due to a discharge from his armpit hair caused by an infection. He also reported that during the summer, the smell exacerbated and the discharge became profuse. According to the man, he had been experiencing it for the past 4 years!

Armpit Hair Infection: Investigations

The doctors examined the man’s armpit hair. Moreover, they also viewed a sample of this hair via a microscope. On visualization, there was a “creamy yellow fluid” stuck to his hair.


After inspection, the doctors confirmed his diagnosis as “Trichomycosis axillaris”. This is a hair infection caused by a bacteria named Corynebacterium tenuis. Furthermore, the infectious agent made yellow and black masses on and near the hair shaft.


The doctors advised him to shave his armpit hair, as this was crucial for his treatment to be effective. Additionally, they treated him with an antibiotic called erythromycin to combat the infection. Moreover, they prescribed him aluminum chloride to decrease his sweating. Fortunately, the infection resolved, and the foul smell went away in a few weeks.

Why the foul smell?

The foul body odor is due to the production of a foul-smelling substance. This substance is formed by the Corynebacterium by the breakdown of testosterone present in the sweat.


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