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March 5, 1973

Fecal Body Odor

Author Affiliations

Shelburne Falls, Mass

JAMA. 1973;223(10):1159-1160. doi:10.1001/jama.1973.03220100053024

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To the Editor.—  Dr. Richard L. Dobson's reply (222:1659, 1972) to a question on a patient's report of fecal body odor would seem to call for substantiation or documentation. The wording of the question ("... an intense body odor which he [the patient] describes as fecal..." and "... lincomycin [treatment for a respiratory infection] seemed to make the body odor less noticeable) leave open a possibility of olfactory hallucination or synesthesia. It is not stated that the odor was perceived by the physician himself or by anyone other than the patient. Yet the answer reads that the "odor is undoubtedly due to decomposition by bacteria or keratin, sebum (or) apocrine gland secretion" and the prescription not only localizes the odor with some assurance in the axillae, but recommends such remedies as an antibacterial soap and an antiperspirant-deodorant. This field, being poorly studied and little understood, is presumably for that reason widely