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Back to school: 4 ways preteens can avoid being the 'stinky kid'

Posted on Aug. 14, 2017 ( comments)
News Image - Back to School: 4 ways preteens can avoid being the 'stinky kid'
Joey Garcia, MD, is a pediatrician at Mary Bridge Pediatrics in Maple Valley.

You don't have to have been a middle school boy to know what one smells like. Young boys' (and girls') bodies go through a lot of changes as they enter puberty, including beginning to produce more sweat.

As children near their teenage years they need to take more responsibility for caring for themselves, says Joey Garcia, MD, a pediatrician at Mary Bridge Pediatrics in Maple Valley.

"As children approach puberty, I always encourage parents to talk to them about issues like the birds and the bees, smoking and drinking and all the body changes that occur at that time," says Garcia.

He says nobody wants to be "the stinky kid" at school. Here are four things every preteen should do to ensure they'll be fresh as a daisy for the start of school.

How often should I shower?

As body odor is often linked to the onset of puberty, adolescents need to start bathing or showering at least every other day. Children with extra sweating or body odor issues should shower every day, and children who play sports should shower after every practice, game or match. Choose a time of day that works for you and your family, and fits naturally into your existing routine, says Garcia. Many preteens and teens struggle to wake up in the morning. If your child isn't an early riser, encourage them to shower at night.

When should I start wearing deodorant?

If preteens begin to develop adult-type body odor, they can begin wearing deodorant. Garcia says younger children should avoid deodorant with antiperspirant. Body odor is a normal part of puberty, but could be a sign of a medical issue in very young children. If you notice body odor on a child younger than 8 years old, make sure to ask your pediatrician to check it out.

How often should I change my socks and underwear?

Every day, Garcia says. No excuses. We sweat all over our bodies throughout the day, and not just in our armpits. Wearing socks or underwear day after day can make you smellier, and can lead to fungal infections if it is damp with sweat and not changed regularly.

How can I prevent bad breath?

Garcia says he often is asked about solutions for bad breath, or halitosis. Making sure children are brushing their teeth twice a day - and not forgetting to floss - can be a big help.

"It's just good overall for preteens to start taking care of themselves," says Garcia.

He says he's children with body odor and bad breath get picked on at school. Help your children avoid this situation by encouraging them to develop good hygiene habits.

"They don't want to be known as the stinky kid."

This story was originally published in August 2013 and updated in August 2017.

This story is part of a series of "Back-to-School Tips" from the experts at Mary Bridge Children's Hospital & Health Network. Find more back-to-school tips and tricks in our online back-to-school center.

Posted in: Kids' Health | News

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