Bromidrophobia is a fear of smelling bad odors. Bromidrophobia may be linked with obsessive-compulsive disorder or OCD.
Good hygiene reduces the risks of disease transmission and infection. Regular washing along with sterilizing procedures when appropriate (operating rooms, piercing equipment, etc.), is important for good health. However, like mysophobia, or fear of germs, bromidrophobia takes cleanliness too far.
Bromidrophobia is a fear of perceived odors. Bromidrophobia may be linked with obsessive-compulsive disorder or OCD. In OCD, however, the compulsion is the washing itself while in bromidrophobia the focus is on removing a smell. The difference is subtle, but important, and is best diagnosed by a trained clinician.
Body Odor Is Natural
Human beings, like animals, emit natural scents from our bodies. In a healthy person with reasonable hygiene, these odors are not offensive. In fact, these odors contain pheromones, which act as chemical communicators. Insects and other animals rely largely on pheromones to stimulate a wide range of behaviors. In humans, these chemicals seem to play a role in sexual attraction, although some research disputes this effect.
Most people have a routine before going out in public. Showering, washing your hair, applying deodorant, shaving, brushing your teeth and using a favorite perfume or cologne are all normal and healthy behaviors. If you suffer from bromidrophobia, however, this is not enough.
You may develop extensive hygiene rituals that you obsessively follow before leaving the house. Your showers may gradually become longer and longer as you worry that you are not clean enough.
Your fear might expand past hygiene rituals and render you unable to use public restrooms due to fears of emitting odors. Women may develop a fear of being around others during their menstrual cycles. Bromidophobes of both genders carries large bags wherever they go, full of emergency supplies designed to mask any odors that might develop.
Like many phobias, bromidrophobia tends to worsen over time. Eventually, you might find yourself restricting your activities. You may:
- Become reluctant to exercise or perform any tasks that might cause sweating
- Refuse to go anywhere without pleasant restroom facilities where you can perform emergency odor control
- Develop a social phobia or even agoraphobia, out of the fear that you might be in a situation where you cannot immediately attend to any possible odors.
Because of the impact, this anxiety disorder can have on your daily life, it is very important to discuss your bromidrophobia with a qualified mental health professional. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is generally the treatment of choice. In this therapy, you will learn:
- Healthier ways of thinking about your own body and the scents that it emits
- Relaxation techniques to manage your anxiety
- To tolerate your own scent through a series of exercises known as systematic desensitization
Overcoming your phobia is never easy, but with proper treatment, you can be successful.