Body odor is one of the clearest signs that puberty is beginning. While it is a natural and normal part of development, if your child is not nearing puberty, typically between 8 and 12 years of age, consult your doctor to see if body odor is a sign of a more serious medical condition such as phenylketonuria (PKU) or premature adrenarche. If your child is moving toward puberty, evaluate deodorant options to help him through this stage of development.
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As children enter puberty, their sweat glands become more active and begin to develop stronger odors. This not only affects their underarms, but also the feet and genital area. Deodorant used under the arms covers up the smell and minimizes the potential for body odor.
The deodorant your child uses has specific directions. Some deodorants are best used at night and others are applied during the morning routine. However, no deodorant is better than basic hygiene. Remind your child to wash every day with soap and warm water. Not only do sweat glands become more active at puberty, oil glands that affect the hair and face do as well.
Buy a deodorant that doesn't include an antiperspirant. Most children don't need to limit the amount they perspire. In addition, an antiperspirant can irritate sensitive skin, and this may cause your child to avoid using the product.
There are myriad deodorants marketed to tweens. Some products purport to use only natural ingredients. Other products include perfumes that your child might like, but you may find them overpowering if she doesn't apply it correctly. The best way to find one that works is to experiment and monitor how your child likes the product, how her skin responds to its use and whether she remembers to use it.
For some kids, wearing deodorant is a rite of passage, and they want to get a product they've seen marketed on TV or that their friends use. However, not all kids need deodorant. Some simply need to wash more often and wear fibers that absorb sweat, such as cotton T-shirts and socks.