Body Odor in Kids

What causes body odor in kids?

When your body’s temperature rises, sweat glands release fluids that cool you down before they evaporate. Bacteria living on our skin break down this sweat into acids that give off the not-so-great smell we call body odor. While the idea of bacteria living on our skin can sound scary, it’s harmless. Sometimes bacteria are helpful. It just doesn’t feel that way when we have to deal with body odor.

Normal Body odor is entirely typical and a part of being human. Everyone gets smelly, and everyone has bacteria on their skin. Body odor in kids is a common problem.

This process is natural and not something to be ashamed of. However, it’s essential to get body odor under control. No one wants a highly unpleasant smell up their nose all day. While these smells can be persistent, you may find that your body odor is more noticeable in different situations.

It’s normal for your child to have body odor at some times. A kid’s body odor can happen at any age, but usually between 8-13 when they develop smelly armpits and start using natural deodorants. Hormonal changes are thought to contribute to increased odors. If you notice an unusual smell coming from them that isn’t just sweat or natural fragrances, then it might be time to get them checked out by your child’s pediatrician. We want to rule out an underlying medical condition.

Your kids’ body odor could be from strong foot odors because their feet produce more sweat. Sweaty feet can have a distinct smell. Good hygiene, baby powder and apple cider vinegar soaks can help.

It’s not uncommon for children to have stinky armpits before they hit puberty due to bacteria, sweat, and hormone changes that can cause body odor. As long as your child doesn’t suffer from any other signs of puberty, such as breast development, facial or genital hair development, or starting their period earlier than expected, you need not worry. Please review with your child’s pediatrician if you are concerned about precocious puberty (early puberty).

Puberty usually starts around 9-10 years in girls and 10-12 years in boys. Maintaining personal hygiene is simple with daily showers and deodorant.

When Will I Get Body Odor?

Typically, body odor is most common when you’re exercising, you’re stressed, or you’re hot. It occurs mainly in places like your armpits, genitals, and feet.

While there are two types of sweat glands, body odor typically comes from the apocrine glands that are only found on the parts of the body with hair. These glands produce sweat that is high in protein, which makes it easier to be broken down.

No sweat from your body has an odor. It is only the interaction between sweat and bacteria that causes a smell.

Body odor is less noticeable when you don’t grow hair in places like your armpit, like before puberty. Remember, apocrine glands are attached to hair follicles. Sweat is produced here. As we age, our bodies develop more hair, and we need to change our routine to ensure we are clean to avoid smelling. Again, practicing good hygiene is critical.

How Can I Prevent Body Odor?

There are a few important actions to take to keep yourself and others from smelling your body odor. First, keep the area clean and dry. Consider wearing deodorant. Deodorant limits the presence of bacteria on your skin. If you’d like shaving or waxing, this area may help too. Remember, bacteria that live on the skin cause body odor. We can prevent body odour by practicing good hygiene.

You may also want to do something about smelly feet. Because we spend so much time wearing socks and shoes, sweat from our feet doesn’t have anywhere to go, meaning our bacteria has much more to break down. However, unless your feet are bare, the smell isn’t usually an issue.

Still, many of us take off our shoes in our homes, so it’s important to remember to clean our feet every day. It can be easy to forget to wash them when you shower since you spend the whole time standing. Wearing breathable clothes and socks can also prevent sweat from getting trapped on your body.

If you feel like you’re more sweaty than other people, there’s likely no need to worry. People naturally sweat more or less based on genetics alone. However, if you’re overweight or stressed out, you may also sweat more.

If you seem to sweat excessively or not at all, or if there are any unusual changes, make sure to check in with your doctor just in case something else is going on.

In most cases, once you get into a good routine of showering well and wearing deodorant, body odor is a worry of the past. Remember, it’s nothing to be embarrassed by. Everyone gets it! You can reapply deodorant throughout the day as needed.

Body odor in children is entirely typical, especially if they are in sports. To prevent body odor, keep a clean environment. Kids stink, so wash clothes often and have children only wear clean clothes to avoid the stench. For extra stinky clothes, a good suggestion to reduce body odor would be to add a bit of baking soda when washing them. Adding essential oil to the wash can help too. Ensure it is mixed in well to avoid staining.

Younger kids who experience body odor may need to see a child’s doctor or pediatrician if they have a pungent smell before puberty.

FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions

What is Fish Odor Syndrome?

Trimethylaminuria is an uncommon condition that causes an unpleasant, fishy smell. It’s also called “fish odor syndrome.”

Sometimes this is inherited from parents, but this isn’t always the case. It is one of many potential genetic metabolic diseases. There is currently no cure for TMAU, but some things can help relieve its symptoms, such as avoiding alcohol or taking supplements containing choline bitartrate (a substance found naturally in eggs).

Does Excessive Sweating Cause a Child’s Body Odor?

Sweating may be the only way for your child’s body to cool itself. Still, excessive sweating can also cause problems like body odor when combined with bacteria naturally found on human skin.

How do I improve my Child’s Personal Hygiene?

Teaching your child about personal hygiene and cleanliness is a great way to ensure that they continue this habit when they get older.

To ensure the little one gets into their routine, teach them how important it can be by getting them used to wash hands before eating or preparing food, after using the toilet (and not just in potty training), playing with animals, or dirty things. Ensure they use soap over all the fingers and thumbs, between the fingertips and on the wrist areas, and the top of hand surfaces. Dry thoroughly!

How do you maintain typical body odor for kids in the underarm and groin areas?

Your children may need to apply deodorant before physical activity or on hot days to keep their bodies fresh and clean. You can start with natural deodorant.

They can also take additional steps to avoid the distinct odor, including bathing at least once a day, showering when they finish playing outdoors with friends or after exercise, and changing into clean clothes after vigorous activity.

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About Dr. Dina Kulik MD, FRCPC, PEM

Dr. Dina Kulik completed her Pediatrics Residency and Pediatric Emergency Medicine Fellowship at the Hospital for Sick Children. Dr. Dina is one of Canada’s leading child health media experts, providing child health information through television, radio, print media, and via her blog Above all, Dina’s greatest joy is her family, and being the mom of four crazy boys.

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