When is the right time for deodorant?

The Pediatric Insider

© 2011 Roy Benaroch, MD

Jennifer asked, “What is the right age for deodorant? My husband is thinking that our second grade girl needs to start wearing it. I am not sold on the idea. Any good rules of thumb to keep in mind?”

Kids should start wearing deodorant when they get stinky.

Often (but not always!), that coincides with the onset of puberty—but actually, a strong body odor itself isn’t actually caused by the same hormones that cause puberty. If an adult-type body odor is the only change going on in your daughter, I wouldn’t worry about that being part of true puberty. I’d just work on hygeine (shower every day! Use soap!) and pick out a deodorant if you’d like.

Real puberty in girls starts with breast budding, and real puberty in boys begins with the growth of the testicles. If these are starting too early (before age 9 in a boy, or before age 8 in a girl), further evaluation is needed. Further evaluation is also always needed if height growth is accelerating too early. Many other things tend to occur at the same time, though they’re not truly signs of puberty. These include armpit hair, pubic hair, acne, and a, let’s say, more-robust body odor. If multiple “other things” are going on, it’s worth a discussion with your pediatrician. But if it’s really only the stinky, there will probably not be anything to worry about.

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