By Sue Hubbard, M.D.
I recently received an email from a mother asking if her 5-year-old son, an avid athlete, could wear deodorant. It seems his arm pits "smell like a grown man's." I have actually been asked this question on occasion in the office, and I've even noticed body odor (BO) while examining some 5- to 8-year-old patients.
Most children start to "stink" as they begin to enter puberty, but occasionally, younger children, for unknown reasons, develop BO well before any signs of puberty. If it seems that your child is entering puberty at an early age, to talk to your doctor. If your child happens to be one of those kids who are just odiferous, there are several things you can do.
First, make sure that your child is bathing/showering every day, and that he or she is washing their armpits well. Some young boys (and I bet, a few girls) just pop in and out of the shower without letting any soap touch their bodies. (I used to smell my boys' hair when they came out of the shower and sometimes it still smelled sweaty. Sure enough, no soap!)
If daily bathing doesn't do the trick, it may be time for your child to use a deodorant, which simply masks the smell. This often works for younger kids who are really stinky, rather than sweaty. An antiperspirant actually stops and dries up perspiration, but may not be needed until the child is older.
There are a wide range of deodorant products available, some of which are natural, as well. Head to the store and read labels to decide which one you prefer.Dr. Sue Hubbard is a nationally known pediatrician and co-host of "The Kid's Doctor" radio show. Submit questions at www.kidsdr.com.
This was printed in the January 12, 2014 - January 25, 2014 edition.