For most kids, body odor is part of growing up. Kids start to have body odor around the time puberty starts and hormones change. Usually, this happens when females are 8–13 years old, and males are 9–14. But it can also be normal to start puberty earlier or later.
Bathing every day, especially after a lot of sweating or in hot weather, can help with body odor. So can wearing clean clothes, underwear, and socks each day. But many parents also wonder if it’s time for kids to start using deodorant.
What Are the Types of Deodorant?
Two types of products can help with body odor:
- Deodorants cover up the smell of body odor, usually with fragrances.
- Antiperspirants stop or dry up perspiration or sweat. They do this by temporarily blocking the pores where sweat comes from.
Deodorants, antiperspirants, and combination products come in sticks, roll-ons, gels, sprays, and creams and are sold at any many stores.
When Should Kids Start Using Deodorant?
There's no set age at which kids can start using deodorants or antiperspirants. When they do start, they should read and follow the directions. Younger kids should use a stick, roll-on, or cream product rather than a spray (aerosol) option until they’re old enough to use those safely without spraying them in their face or inhaling them.
What Kind of Deodorant Is Best for Kids?
Early on, kids may get benefit from deodorant. Later in puberty, sweating increases so it might help to switch to a product that handles both odor and perspiration.
Deodorants and antiperspirants are safe for kids. Some have packaging or scents designed to appeal to young users, but the main ingredients are the same. Some are labeled “natural,” but they aren’t better for health than regular options. Use whatever you and your child are comfortable with.
To help your child or teen with body odor, choose a product that feels comfortable and works well. Watch for a rash to make sure it doesn’t irritate your child’s skin. If a rash develops, try a different product. Your child might prefer the scent of one product over another, or even an unscented one. It might take a few tries before you find the right one.
Using Deodorant Correctly
For an antiperspirant or deodorant to do its job, it must be used correctly. Some antiperspirants work better if they're used at night, while others recommend application in the morning. They generally are for use under the arms, but some antiperspirants are OK to use on the hands or feet if those areas are especially sweaty. Read the label so you know how to use it.
When Should I Call the Doctor?
Some kids develop body odor before the usual age of puberty. Talk to the doctor if your child has body odor and is younger than 7 or 8 years (for a girl) or 9 years (for a boy). The doctor can check for signs of puberty starting early, which sometimes needs treatment with medicine. If there are no signs of early puberty, body odor isn’t usually a health problem. But your doctor can reassure your child if they feel self-conscious or worried about sweating or body odor.