When your child starts complaining about body odor, you might have to start thinking about letting them use antiperspirants or deodorants. However, using them for the first time is quite a big step for both the child and the parents.
Children’s bodies undergo changes as they approach their teenage years. Body odor is one of the physical changes that manifest in a child’s tween years. And as children reach puberty, their sweat glands become more active, leading to increased body odor (1).
In this post, we discuss the different aspects of introducing a deodorant for kids — the age at which it can be introduced, whether it is safe for children, and its potential side effects. We also discuss how you can select a safe deodorant for your child.
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
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. 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.
- Decide whether you wish to reduce body odor or tackle wetness.
- Check the ingredients of every product you wish to buy. Avoid ingredients that contain allergens.
- Try selecting ones with natural ingredients in them.
- Do a patch test on their inner elbow area and wait for at least 24 hours to check for any allergic reactions.
- Decide on a pleasing fragrance that will be agreeable to your child.
- Use a roll-on deodorant in the beginning.
- 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.
Tweens and teens can actively use deodorants to battle body odor. In case your child participates in active sports or sweats excessively, you may consider the use of antiperspirants as they grow. And if you feel your child is too young to use a deodorant, consider employing other tips for general hygiene or feel free to talk to your pediatrician about your concerns.
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
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