Sniffing Out Solutions to Body Odor                            

Parents have been asking me to come clean about the subject of body odor – why do some children have it even before they become full-fledged teenagers, and what can be done about it?  Let me see if I can roll on – or should I say roll out – some information on the topic of body odor.

First, there is no problem that can cause a child more embarrassment and hurt self-esteem than body odor, so even recognizing that this is a problem and talking about it with your child puts you ahead of the game.

Most body odors start at the time that puberty begins, as hormones in your child’s body increase and in turn increase the amount of sweating they are apt to do.  The odor that results is due to skin bacteria breaking down compounds in the sweat, which produces chemicals that have a terrible odor – especially in the area of armpits, feet, and genitals. 

Therefore, the best approach to combat body odor is to reduce the amount of sweat produced and the number or bacteria on the skin's surface.  How can this be done?          

If routines of good hygiene, food avoidance, and use of an antiperspirant and deodorant don’t work, speak with your pediatrician who may recommend other prescription products to reduce the production of sweat and improve the body odor.

Hopefully tips like this will sniff out any concerns you may have the next time you are worried about your older child’s or teenager’s body odor. 

Lewis First, M.D., is chief of Pediatrics at Vermont Children's Hospital at Fletcher Allen Health Care and chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Vermont College of Medicine. You can also catch "First with Kids" weekly on WOKO 98.9FM and WPTZ Channel 5, or visit the First with Kids video archives at http://www.FletcherAllen.org/firstwithkids