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Armpit Odor in Toddlers

author image Leigh Good
Leigh Good has been writing for magazines and newspapers for more than 10 years. Her work has been published in numerous print and online publications. Good has a bachelor's degree in print journalism from Georgia State University.
Armpit Odor in Toddlers
Armpit odor in a toddler could be a sign of illness or early puberty.

Toddlers and small children usually do not experience armpit odor. Body odor typically does not occur until a child begins puberty, which is considered early if it happens before a child reaches 8 years old. If your toddler has armpit odor, talk to her pediatrician. The odor may be a sign of underlying illness or even early puberty.

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Causes of Armpit Odor

Armpit odor occurs when the sweat from the underarm apocrine glands release fatty acids and ammonia onto the skin. These acids and the ammonia are then broken down by the bacteria on the skin thereby causing odor. For the most part, children under 8 years old do not have enough fatty acids in their sweat to cause body odor.

Possible Reasons for Armpit Odor

Some toddlers may experience armpit odor if they become colonized with certain strains of bacteria. If your child has armpit odor, have him checked by a doctor for signs of bacterial infection. Odor-causing bacteria can often be cleared up with a course of prescription antibiotics.

According to website It's a Healthy New Age, armpit odor in prepubescent children can also be caused by a rare metabolic disorder that prevents children's bodies from generating necessary enzymes to help break down chemicals in their bodies. Take your child to a doctor for testing if you think he may have a metabolic disorder. Your doctor can also check your child for other possible causes including parasites.

Early Puberty and Body Odor

Children who experience early puberty, also known as precocious puberty, can develop armpit odor. Puberty that begins before age 8 in girls and age 9 in boys is considered early. If you notice other signs of puberty in your small child, such as breast growth in girls or pubic hair growth in boys and girls, talk to your child's doctor about the possibility of early puberty.


If your small child has frequent underarm odor, you can help her stay clean and better-smelling. Bathe your child frequently and launder her clothes and bedding regularly to prevent odors from building up. You can also use a mild deodorant that does not contain antiperspirant to help prevent armpit odor. Talk to your child's doctor before using deodorant on your child's skin.

Prevent Body Odor

You may notice that your toddler has body odor after eating certain foods. You may reduce armpit odor in your child if you give him organic milk in place of non-organic dairy. In some children, cutting back on meat may also diminish the occurrence of body odor. BabyCenter states that avoiding meals that contain strong spices such as chilies, garlic and onions could lessen your child's odor problems.

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