8 Preventive Measures To Get Rid Of Body Odor In Teens

check_icon Research-backed

Image : Shutterstock

IN THIS ARTICLE

Body odor in teens is not uncommon and maybe a common complaint after puberty. While teenagers may have issues with self-confidence and self-esteem due to body odor, it may help to know that it is normal and does not always indicate an underlying pathology (1). The condition is more common in teenage boys than girls. Sweating is often the main reason for body odor, but there may be other reasons. Read the post to learn about the causes, management, and signs you need to see a doctor for body odor.

Possible Causes Of Body Odor In Teens

Excessive sweating (hyperhidrosis) is the primary reason for body odor in teens. This is due to overactive sweat glands. Besides that, some of the common reasons for teenage body odor could be:

  1. Hormonal changes: During and after puberty, hormones rise and cause increased secretion by the sweat and oil glands. The sweat produced is odorless. But bacteria on the skin surface decompose the sweat into ammonia and fatty acids that emit a peculiar or pungent odor (2).
  1. Poor hygiene: Not bathing or changing clothes regularly can cause excess bacteria to accumulate on the skin, especially in the underarms, groins, and on the feet. It increases the possibility of developing body odor (3).
Poor hygiene causes body odor in teens

Image: Shutterstock

  1. Food choices: Consumption of certain foods such as strongly-flavored spices, garlic, milk-based products, fish, soya beans, and plants from Brassicaceae or Alliaceae families may cause distinct body odors (4). However, this is not just specific to teens but for children and adults too.
  1. Bromhidrosis: It occurs when the skin bacteria interact with sweat and break it down into malodorous compounds, thus causing body odor (5). This condition usually occurs in the palms, soles, and skin folds.
  1. Trimethylaminuria: It is also called fish odor syndrome, and may occur in teenagers and adults. The condition occurs when the body is unable to process trimethylamine, a compound naturally produced within the body. Accumulation of trimethylamine in the body causes a fish-like odor to develop in the person’s urine, breath, and sweat (6).
  1. Premature adrenarche: It is when the adrenal glands attain maturity earlier than normal. It can cause the teen to develop body odor (7). 
  1. Superadded infections: Scabies is common in the underarms or groins. This causes intense itching and a body odor. There maybe superadded bacterial infections, which teens tend to hide. The underarms should be carefully examined.

    Scabies can cause body odor in teens

    Image: iStock

  1. Phenylketonurea: It is a condition whereby the body does not process phenylalanine and excretes it in the urine or sweat. This is a mousy smell. The child should be on a protein restricted diet i.e not eat meat or consume protein.

How To Get Rid Of Teenage Body Odor?

Take a healthy diet and be well hydrated. In addition to that, here are some tips you may follow to prevent and control body odor in teens:

  1. Shower with antibacterial soap: Regular bathing with antibacterial soap and washing parts like armpits, groin, and feet could remove sweat and body odor-causing bacteria.

    Kids should bathe using an antibacterial soap

    Image: iStock

  1. Wear clean clothes: Wearing clean cotton clothes (including inners, t-shirts, socks) could help in reducing body odor as they are breathable and absorb sweat. Materials, such as rayon, silk, and polyester, are not breathable and may cause more perspiration.
  1. Deodorants: Deodorants may cover or block the body odor, while antiperspirants dry up or prevent sweating. Antiperspirants containing aluminum zirconium and aluminum chloride are considered effective (8).
  1. Cutting down certain foods: Limiting strong-flavored and strong-smelling foods such as garlic, fish, and spices may help reduce the body odor.

You may even try some home remedies for body odor in teens.

  1. Apple cider vinegar: Anecdotal evidence suggests that apple cider vinegar can adjust the pH level of the skin, thereby eliminating the odor. However, it should be diluted in water and applied using cotton on the armpits. For foot odor, soak the feet in warm water (with one part of apple cider vinegar) for about 15 minutes.

    Apple cider vinegar can help maintain skin's pH balance

    Image: Shutterstock

  1. Epsom salt: Soaking feet in Epsom salt may also help in reducing foot odor (9).
Quick tip
Wear cotton or moisture wicking socks under your shoes. However, the shoes may still absorb the odor. You can throw your shoes in the washer, or use baking soda, baby powder, or a deodorizing shoe spray or powder in your shoes (13).
  1. Wheatgrass juice: According to the International Journal of Chemical Studies, wheatgrass juice is known to have odor-reducing properties (10).
  1. Natural deodorants: Some natural alternatives to deodorants include lemon juice (can kill bacteria causing odor), coconut oil (antibacterial properties), and baking soda (neutralizing odor). These can be applied topically or mixed with some more ingredients to make a homemade deodorant (11).

    Coconut oil is a natural alternative to deodrant

    Image: Shutterstock

We have a DIY method to make a deodorant on your own.

You would require:

  • 3tbsp baking soda
  • 3tbsp organic corn starch
  • 3tbsp organic extra virgin olive oil
  • 1tbsp natural beeswax
  • 20 drops essential oil (any with antibacterial properties)
  • Container

Method:

  • Use a double boiler dish to melt the beeswax
  • Once the beeswax starts to melt, add all the other ingredients
  • Stir well by adding oil
  • Once the blend is mixed well, add essential oil
  • Pour the mixture in one container for use

These remedies are a good way to control body odor at home. Test the remedy on a small part of the skin to know if it suits your body. 

Quick tip
Fill an 8-ounce spritz bottle with water and add a cap full of vinegar or household bleach to it to make a disinfectant. Spray it on yourself in shower and then rinse it off (14).

When To See Doctor?

If the body odor seems strong and out of control, then it is good to seek a doctor’s opinion. Also, see a doctor if these home remedies do not provide any relief. If the teen sweats excessively and already has another medical condition, then it becomes essential to visit a doctor.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Does puberty increase body odor?

The sweat and perspiration from sweat glands contribute to body odor. Due to the onset of puberty, these glands become more active and start secreting various chemicals into a sweat, which results in a stronger smelling body odor (12).

2. Does body odor in teens indicate illness?

Yes. Sometimes the body odor in teens can be a symptom of illnesses such as diabetes and liver or kidney disease. Excessive sweating in a teen could indicate hyperhidrosis. If you notice these changes, consult your child’s doctor immediately (13).

Body odor in teens usually arises from causes that are not benign. It may result from hormonal changes, hygiene issues, food choices, or some other treatable medical conditions. Body odor can be mainly managed by certain lifestyle changes such as changing clothes frequently, deodorants, bathing regularly, and cutting down on certain foods that may lead to foul body odor. Some home remedies can also help curb body odor. Excessive sweating and persistent foul odor can indicate a need for medical attention.

References:

MomJunction's articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.
1. Smells like teens and tweens, How to deal with body odor; Children’s Wisconsin
2. S. R. Patel, An External and Internal Understanding: Female Puberty; University of Tennessee (2019)
3. What is hygiene?; St. Petersburg College
4. J. Havlicek and T. Saxton, The Effect Of Diet On Human Bodily Odors; Nova Science Publishers Incorporation (2009)
5. E. Langenau, Chapter 180: Odor (Unusual Urine and Body); Pediatric Care Online
6. Trimethylaminuria; National Organization for Rare Disorders
7. Premature Adrenarche; Boston Children’s Hospital
8. Sweaty, Smelly Teens and Tweens: Deodorants that work and other tips to keep them smelling sweet; Childrens MD (2015)
9. 5 Reasons to Soak Your Feet in Epsom Salt; Epsom Salt Council
10. M. Chauhan; A pilot study on wheat grass juice for its phytochemical, nutritional and therapeutic potential on chronic diseases; International Journal of Chemical Studies (2014)
11. Natural Alternatives to Deodorant; A Healthier Michigan
12. Hygiene Basics; Children’s Health System
13. Smells like teens and tweens: How to deal with body odor; Children’s Wisconsin
14. Sniffing Out Solutions to Pre-Teen Body Odor; Children’s Hospital Los Angeles
Was this article helpful?
thumbsupthumbsdown
The following two tabs change content below.

Dr. Ritika Shah

Dr. Ritika Shah is a certified lactation counsellor (CLC) from iNational Health Care Academy, Singapore and a dental surgeon with more than seven years of clinical experience across various cities in India. She did her graduation in Dentistry from KM Shah Dental College. During her clinical practice, pediatric dentistry was her particular area of interest, and she constantly thrived to...
View Profile

Dr. Mubina Agboatwalla

(MBBS, DCH, MCPS)
Dr. Mubina Agboatwalla is a well-known pediatrician, practicing paediatrics since the last 20 years in Karachi Pakistan. She is the head of the department of Pediatrics in Karachi Liaquat Hospital, as well as her private practice in three specialist clinics in Pediatrics. She is also a Public Health Specialist specializing in preventive health including nutrition, breastfeeding and infectious diseases especially...
View Profile