Child Body Odor - Causes and Cures

Does your child have a wet sock or locker room body smell? Normally kids need to begin using a deodorant when they are going through puberty, between the ages of 8 and 13 for girls, and ages 9 and 14 for boys. However some children have a noticeable body odor before puberty. There are some children, even as infants that produce more sweat than usual, a condition called hyperhydrosis. They are otherwise healthy except for excessive sweating.
Before you run out a purchase all kinds of deodorants and perfumes for your child, let's first look at what causes body odor and then what can be done to combat it.
Sweat and Body Odor
Contrary to popular belief, perspiration or sweat has no smell. That's right, sweat does not stink. The human body produces two kinds of sweat: eccrine, a clear, odorless sweat that appears all over our bodies, performing the vital role of regulating body temperature, and apocrine, a thicker substance that is produced by glands in the underarm, scalp, and groin areas. Sweat also provides natural method of removing toxins from the body.
Body odor occurs when sweat is exposed to bacteria on the skin. It is the mixture of sweat and bacteria which cause the bad smell. This occurs in places where sweat cannot evaporate easily for example the armpit or genital area.
Body Odor Prevention
The key to eliminating most body odors is to inhibit the body's production of apocrine sweat and descreasing the number of bacteria on the surface of the skin.
  • Use an antibacterial deodorant soap: Wash daily with an antibacterial soap such as Dial or Safeguard.
  • Use an acne cleanser: If antibacterial soaps don't work try using an acne cleanser that contains benzoyl peroxide. It has strong antibacterial properties. Be careful, excessive use can cause drying and irritation. You can also try Neosporin or an antibacterial ointment.
  • Rubbing alcohol: Try rubbing alcohol, witch hazel or hydrogen peroxide for extra protection. These products help reduce the number of odor-causing bacteria.
  • Try a homemade deodorant: Mix equal parts of witch hazel, Aloe Vera and mineral water. You can also ad 1 teaspoon of glycerin along with good smelling oil. Mix it in a spray bottle and enjoy!
  • Antiperspirants: Antiperspirants are aluminum-based chemicals that block the pores of the apocrine glands and stop you from sweating. Antiperspirants may cause irritation or even contact dermatitis - red, swollen, itchy skin, especially in young children. If you use an antiperspirant, try one that is perfume-free.
  • Deodorants: Deodorants eliminate or mask the smell of sweat by neutralizing bacteria. Deodorants do not prevent sweating, therefore, deodorants maybe reapplied during the day to prevent bacteria and bad odor from developing. Deodorants and remedies such as rubbing alcohol, antibacterial cleansers, or homemade deodorants may be less irritating to young skin than antiperspirants.
  • Bathe daily: Regular bathing helps reduce the number of bacteria on your skin.
  • Dry your feet thoroughly after bathing: Bacteria thrives in damp places such as between the toes. Use powders such as cornstarch, baking soda, or foot powders soda to help absorb moisture.
  • Wear shoes and socks made of natural materials: Shoes made of natural materials, such as leather or a mesh material can help prevent sweaty feet by allowing your feet to breathe.
  • Change socks often: Change socks once or twice a day, drying your feet
  • Wear loose clothing: Wear loose and natural fabrics, such as cotton, wool and silk, which allow your skin to breathe.
  • Odor fighting laundry detergents: Wash your clothes with an odor-fighting detergent. If necessary, change clothes or underwear during the day.
  • Eat a well balanced diet: If there are a lot of toxins in the body, they can produce a bad odor. If you eat a balanced diet, and eliminate waste efficiently, none of your excretions, including urine and feces, should have a bad odor.
Excessive sweating (hyperhidrosis)For most people sweating is little else than an annoyance. Others just produce more sweat than others for no apparent reason. Whatever the reason, there are some factors may make children sweat heavily. These include:
  • Heredity: Some people have a genetic predisposition to sweat excessively.
  • Certain foods and beverages: Hot beverages and spicy foods
  • Certain types of medicines
  • Diabetes: A fruity smell may be a sign of diabetes.
  • Liver or kidney disease: An ammonia smell may be a sign of kidney or liver disease.
  • Fever: A fever can occur with many types of bacterial and viral infections. Sweating profusely is the body's way of eliminating excess heat.
  • Overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism)
  • Certain types of cancer: Leukemia and lymphoma can produce unusual sweating patterns.
  • Metabolic Disorders: Some metabolic disorders such as Phenylketonuria (PKU) can body odor.
While in most children, body odor and sweating is not related to any medical
condition, if your child has an unpleasant odor, it should be evaluated by a physician.