So your little girl is barely 9 years old, is not showing signs of puberty, and yet… has strong body odor. You might be thinking that that’s a little too young for B.O. but, in actuality, quite a number do get it at an early age. Read on to understand what’s going on in your child’s body and learn how you and your child can handle the smelly situation:
What’s happening Though she doesn’t show it yet, stinky sweat is an early sign that puberty has already begun in your child’s body. It’s within the normal range of development for a girl to get body odor at age 8 and for boys, it’s a little later at age 9. It’s a sign that the body is maturing and the hormones are changing, Dr. Jennifer Shu, a pediatrician and author of Baby and Child Health, told BabyCenter.
An increase in hormonal activity, coupled with the normal skin bacteria that the sweat comes in contact with, produces the odor that you’re smelling. The odor – and the activation of the adrenal gland that’s causing it – is part of what medical professionals call “adrenarche”. It's usually nothing to worry about.
How to deal with it Deal with it as you would adult body odor. Good hygiene is key. Have your child shower thoroughly every day, making sure to scrub under the arms. Providing a colorful shower puff and sweet smelling shower gel will help make the chore more fun for your child. Antibacterial soaps also help reduce the funky smell.
Always have your child in clean clothes – cotton and other natural fibers are preferred – after showering. To minimize bacteria build up, launder his sheets and towels regularly as well. It may help if your child avoids food with strong odors, like onion, garlic and spicy dishes.
Sometimes, these measures aren’t enough, especially for active kids. It’s fine for your child to start using deodorant or antiperspirant, Dr. Beth Cummings, a pediatric endocrinologist told Today’s Parent.
You can opt for regular adult deodorants and perspirants, but in most cases, a mild deodorant is enough, says Dr. Shu. “Antiperspirants are thought to be safe but may be overkill for most kids. They stop the sweat itself — but sweat can be a good thing, since it helps the body cool down.”
Try good ol’ tawas – it’s natural and fragrance free. Find it in your local market in its crystal form or its powder and roll-on variants in supermarkets. Other good product brands to look for are:
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Milcu Underarm and Foot Deodorant Powder, P78.50
Human Nature Premium Deodorant, P89.75
Burt’s Bees Herbal Deodorant, P750
Avon Feelin Fresh with Crystal Tawas roll-on, P149
When to worry Body odor for girls ages 8 and up and boys ages 9 and up are usually nothing to worry about, but it’s good to mention it still to your child’s pedia during a regular checkup. If the body odor, however, is accompanied by other symptoms like growth spurt or hair growth and headaches, it could be precocious puberty and is best examined by a doctor. Make an appointment as well if your child is below the age ranges mentioned above.
There’s also a genetic disorder called fish odor syndrome which is characterized by an offensive body odor and the smell of rotting fish. It’s rare, but is present from birth if it is the case. Talk to your child’s pedia if you suspect this.