UK HealthCast: Body odor in children
Dr. Pleasant is a pediatrician and pediatric nephrologist with Kentucky Children's Hospital.
At what age, generally speaking, would you say that children and their parents need to be mindful of body odor?
Dr. Pleasant: Body odor may become more noticeable once your child starts puberty. The average age for girls to start puberty is around 11, while for boys the average age is closer to 12. But it's perfectly normal for puberty to begin at any point between the ages of 8 to 13 in girls and 9 to 14 in boys. That's because it's around that time our adrenal glands secrete hormones that act on the apocrine glands, which secrete sweat.
How can kids adjust to changes in their body odor when they start to occur?
Dr. Pleasant: With the help of their parents, there are six common things I try to suggest. First and foremost is to keep yourself squeaky clean. Shower at least once a day and you'll wash away sweat as well as rid the body from the bacteria that naturally resides on the skin surface. Interestingly, sweat by itself is basically odorless. So when it mixes with the bacteria that lives on our skin, they can multiply quickly and cause a little bit of a stink.
Number two, use soap. Wash thoroughly with soap to rid your skin of the bacteria, which would further help with the odor. Number three, towel off after you shower daily, paying as close attention to the areas where you may sweat a lot. Number four, antiperspirant. Once you're clean and dry, use the antiperspirant on your underarms. And this chemical will help keep sweat at bay.
Number five, keep your clothes clean. Change clothes once you're sweating heavily. Fresh clothes help keep body odor down. Be sure to change your socks as well, especially if you tend to have foot odor.
And then, number six, cut back on certain foods and drinks. What you eat affects your body odor. Foods that tend to make you sweat more, such as hot peppers or other spicy foods may lead to body odor. Certain foods like onions and garlic also tend to be carried in your sweat.
Listen to our entire podcast with Dr. Pleasant below: