Deodorant For Kids: Is It Safe, Side Effects & Tips To Choose

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Deodrant seems a quick remedy for body odor but is using deodorant for kids safe? Deodorant or antiperspirant is a product that people across age groups use to smell good or mask body odor. Children can get body odor due to perspiration, too. However, as they step into the teenage, the hormonal changes during puberty make their sweat glands overactive, increasing body odor (1).

Read on as we tell you the right age to use deodorants for kids, their safety, potential side effects, and ways to select a safe deodorant for children.

Are Deodorants Safe For Children?

Children have sensitive skin, and applying deodorants that contain harmful ingredients might trigger an allergic reaction (2). Parents and caregivers should keep an eye out for any signs of skin rash, swelling, itching, or changes in skin color when children apply deodorants for the first few times. If you notice discomfort, ask them to stop using the product immediately.

You should also help your child apply deodorant properly and see if the deodorant is effective after extended use. In general, any deodorant takes some time to be effective as your child’s body needs to adjust to it.

Potential Side Effects Of Deodorants

Although deodorants make children smell good, they might cause some side effects (3) (4).

  • Allergy

The most common side effect of using deodorants is allergy. Some deodorants might contain fragrance, propylene glycol, essential oils and biological additives, parabens, vitamin E, and lanolin, which are common allergens found in deodorants. These allergens might lead to rashes, itching, change in skin color, or even swelling.

  • Other side effects

Some deodorants might contain aluminum salts and ethyl alcohol, which, if inhaled, can cause respiratory disorders, vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, etc. Besides, if the deodorant enters the eye, it can cause itching and swelling.

When Can Children Start Using Deodorant?

While some parents introduce deodorants a couple of years before their children reach puberty, others wait until their children attain puberty.

The tween years are defined as the ages between nine and 12 (before the start of adolescence or puberty). You can introduce deodorants around the age of 9-10 so that your child becomes comfortable using deodorants before their sweat glands become more active.

Tips To Choose A Safe Deodorant For Kids

If you are still on the fence trying to select the perfect deodorant for your child, here are some helpful tips.

  1. Decide whether you wish to reduce body odor (deodorant) or tackle wetness (antiperspirant).
  1. Check the ingredients of every product you wish to buy. Avoid ingredients that contain allergens.
  1. Try selecting ones with natural ingredients in them.
  1. Do a patch test on their inner elbow area and wait for at least 24 hours to check for any allergic reactions.
  1. Decide on a pleasing fragrance that will be agreeable to your child.
  1. Use a roll-on deodorant in the beginning.
  1. Instruct the child on the correct way to apply deodorants and supervise while your child uses them.

Tips To Keep Body Odor Away

While applying deodorant is a good way to keep body odor away, there are other effective ways your child could employ to keep body odor at bay.

1. Bathe regularly

Body odor is caused due to the breakdown of sweat by bacteria. Bathing regularly will keep away unwanted bacteria. Pick a good soap of their choice and make sure they wash all parts of their body thoroughly.

2. Wear loose cotton clothes

Natural fibers such as cotton and linen are absorbent and breathable. It means your skin can breathe through them and dry any damp patches that might form.

3. Change underwear daily

Changing underwear daily is crucial to prevent body odor. Make sure your children wear clean underwear daily. They should also wear a clean pair of socks each day to prevent body odor.

4. Wear clean clothes daily

Make sure your child wears a clean set of clothes every day. Bacteria tend to linger on clothes, which can lead to body odor the next time your children wear an unwashed set of clothes.

5. Change their diet

Sometimes, your child’s diet might be the cause of the body odor. Some food items such as garlic and onion are known to cause body odor. If your child is struggling with excessive body odor, you might want to make a change in their diet.

Deodorant Vs. Antiperspirant — Which Is Better?

Many people assume deodorant and antiperspirant are the same and use the terms interchangeably. However, there are quite a few differences between the two (3).

  • An antiperspirant reduces perspiration, while a deodorant reduces body odor caused by sweat. Some products claim to do both.
  • As sweat is the most common cause of body odor, you can choose an antiperspirant. However, many antiperspirants contain aluminum salts, which are considered harmful. Deodorants, on the other hand, may or may not contain aluminum, so you can select those without it for your child.
  • Deodorants are considered cosmetic products, as they do not change the function of the skin. Antiperspirants, on the other hand, are classified as drugs and are therefore subject to rules and regulations set forth by the FDA.

As a thumb rule, you can buy deodorants for tweens and younger teenagers. They are usually free of aluminum and alcohol and are gentle on their sensitive skin. For older teens and active children, you can consider both antiperspirants and deodorants. Antiperspirants help them feel drier for longer periods and reduce body odor as well.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. At what age do most kids need deodorant?

There is no determined age when children can start or need to use deodorants (5).

2. What age do children’s armpits smell?

Body odor in children usually commences by the age of eight. Thus, their armpits will also start smelling from this time onwards (6).

Before introducing deodorant to kids, consult a pediatrician to know if your child requires an antiperspirant. Then, start with a roll-on version due to its easy application. You may pick a product with a mild fragrance that may not irritate the child’s respiratory system. Also, check the ingredients list carefully and avoid any product with potential allergens. After the first application, wait for 24 hours to know if your child is intolerant to any ingredients. If you’re uncomfortable introducing them to deodorants, you may follow the tips on reducing body odor.

Key Pointers

  • Most children start using deodorants as they attain adolescence.
  • Children with sensitive skin may develop allergies or other side effects of deodorants.
  • Parents should be looking for any skin changes in their children after using deodorants and discontinue their use if they notice anything.
  • Choose an appropriate deodorant devoid of toxic ingredients and do a patch test before using them for your child.

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. All About Puberty; The Nemours Foundation
2. Deodorant; Nontoxic Certified
3. Matthew J. Zirwas and Jessica Moennich; Antiperspirant and Deodorant Allergy; The journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology (2008).
4. Deodorant poisoning; Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
5. Ask a Pediatrician: When Is it Safe for Kids to Start Wearing Deodorant or Antiperspirant?; Connecticut Children’s
6. Is My Child’s Stinky Funk Normal?; University of Utah
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Shivali Karande

Shivali holds a bachelor’s degree in pharmacy and a master’s in management from Chetana's R.K Institute of Management and Research Mumbai. After working for nearly five years in the market research sector, she discovered her passion for writing and started freelancing. Her knowledge about medicines and biology, coupled with her experience in research, helps her write well-researched, informative, and evidence-based... more

Dr. Rana Chanchal

(MD, DCH, PGPN)
Dr. Rana Chanchal is currently working as a senior consultant and head of the Department of Pediatrics and Neonatology at Charak Hospital and Research Center, Lucknow. He has completed under graduation and post-graduation in Pediatrics from King George's Medical University, Lucknow following which he completed a two-year fellowship in Neonatology from Manchester, UK. Dr. Rana has also done DCH from... more

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