Posted tagged ‘antiperspirants’

When is the right time for deodorant?

January 5, 2011

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.

Stinky pits

August 23, 2009

The Pediatric Insider

© 2009 Roy Benaroch, MD

Rosa asked, “What can I do for my teenager’s stinky armpits? He uses an antiperspirant, but he still sweats a lot and smells bad. He doesn’t want to talk to the doctor about it, so he can’t get a prescription. Is there anything else I can do?”

Hope is on the way!

I know this sounds weird, but most people don’t use antiperspirants correctly. Antiperspirants will work much better if they’re put on at night, before going to sleep. That way they can soak into the sweat glands. If your son puts on his antiperspirant in the morning, he’s already sweating and diluting the effects.

You don’t believe me? Try it for a few nights—trust me. Put on antiperspirant right at bedtime. Even if you shower in the morning and don’t put more antiperspirant on, you’ll stay dryer than if you used your roll-on after the shower.

Another advantage: you won’t end up with those pit-stains on your clothes.

There are also a few “prescription strength” products now on the market, like “Degree Clinical Protection.” I don’t have any experience with these, but if they truly have a higher concentration of active ingredients then they may work better than the ordinary stuff. A doctor could also prescribe a high concentration antiperspirant, but honestly using the ordinary over-the-counter stuff at night seems to work well for almost everyone.

You could also look into deodorant soaps or other products that might mask the smell better.

I’d also like to reassure your son that he really could talk to his doctor about this, or anything else. There is very little we haven’t heard, and just about nothing is off-limits. Rarely, a true medical condition can cause excessive sweating, so if this issue is new or your son is losing weight or otherwise doesn’t feel well, he really ought to go talk to a doctor. I won’t complain, even if he’s stinky.