Home / Kid's Health / What’s that smell? Body odor change means puberty is starting

What’s that smell? Body odor change means puberty is starting

There’s nothing quite like the smell of body odor and armpit smell changing to remind parents their little children are growing up and approaching puberty.

A teen with armpit smell that is asking how to get rid of body odor change
Sweaty clothes can harbor bacteria and cause body odor. Kids should wear fresh clothes daily once puberty starts.

When kids start to smell differently, remember that it’s a normal part of growing up and that simple changes to their hygiene routine should keep kids smelling fresh.

Body odor change usually is a sign of puberty

Parents and kids shouldn’t be alarmed by normal body odor. It’s caused by hormonal changes that come when children start puberty. Discussions with parents and books about puberty can help kids learn more about why their body is changing and what to expect as they get older.

“Body odor signaling the start of puberty can start as early as age 7 for girls and age 9 for boys,” said Dr. Kathryn Schaus, a Marshfield Children’s pediatrician.

If body odor starts before age 7-9 or smells strange, make an appointment with your child’s pediatrician. Certain medical conditions like Type 1 diabetes can cause an acetone-type smell. A diet that includes a lot of greasy food can cause odor in children of all ages.

Excessive sweating also can cause odor when it combines with bacteria found naturally on your skin. Contact your child’s doctor if your child is sweating excessively.

How to get rid of body odor

Around the time body odor change happens, children should start taking a shower or bath every day. Bathing after physical activity is especially important to rinse away sweat that has combined with bacteria on the skin.

“It’s really important that kids wear fresh underwear, socks and other clothing daily because sweaty clothes can harbor bacteria and cause odor,” Schaus said when asked how to get rid of body odor.

Deodorant and antiperspirant can help reduce odor, including odor or armpit smell caused by sweating in active kids. Children can use an unscented product if they are sensitive to fragrances or don’t like the smell of scented deodorant.

Besides practicing good hygiene, staying hydrated and eating a healthful diet that doesn’t include a lot of greasy food should keep body odor at bay.

For questions about teen body odor, talk to a Marshfield Children’s provider.

Schedule appointment Message your provider

Related Shine365 stories

Tips for talking to kids about puberty

Sweating: How much is too much?

Mind the gap: Why girls develop faster than boys

55 responses to “What’s that smell? Body odor change means puberty is starting”

  1. Deb

    *the antibacterial soap can strip away the good bacteria that is…

  2. Deb

    Consider non-antibacterial soap, which can strip away the natural good bacteria on our skin, creating an imbalance.

  3. Kelly

    Hello, hello! I’ve been going through a 7-year trial in regard to my daughter’s underarm odor. We just found something that works last week, and I wanted to share it as many places as possible in order to help others.

    At the age of 5 my daughter was diagnosed with premature adrenarche, which lead to premature hair growth and, adult like, underarm odor. I didn’t realize it at the time, but she had also inherited her father’s hyperhidrosis, leading to some very unpleasant under arm odor. Over the years we have tried almost every available deodorant out there. Starting with all natural ones and moving gradually up to clinical strength.

    Absolutely nothing worked. Now age 12, she was washing and reapplying clinical strength deodorants 2 to 3 times a day, and odor was still a problem. We had her tested to make sure there weren’t any other issues at play and doctors concluded it was likely excessive sweating.

    Instead of jumping immediately to prescription strength antiperspirants (daughter has sensitive skin) I decided to give Certain Dri extra strength clinical, a try (I don’t think the brand matters. Just the percentage of the active ingredient). Their, everyday strength, contained the same percentage of active ingredient as most of the other clinical strength deodorants available so I knew that wasn’t going to cover it. But I figured I’d give the extra strength a try. And IT WORKED!!!!

    It’s been such a blessing and a relief. Now she only applies it once in the evening and she’s totally covered for the entire next day! She’s also been using it on her hands and feet to help with excessive sweating in those areas.

    I also found that it works for me too. I have one armpit that is way smellier than the other and I often had to reapply on that one. Not anymore baby!

    I don’t mean to be over the top, it’s just been such a struggle, and I desperately didn’t want my child to be harassed for being the smelly kid at school. Especially when we were doing everything we could think of to try and combat it. Anyway, I hope this is helpful! Good luck!!!

  4. ConcernedParent

    Hi my baby is 13 months and is having an underarm bod odor similar to an adult. We tried increasing bathing over the past 4 days but its still there. We’re concerned its precocious puberty, but if it is, that would be very young. There is no hair growth. Any advice would be much appreciated.

  5. Emily

    My 11.5 year old daughter has gotten really stinky lately but she’s also going through an anti-bathing phase. I don’t understand it. I have to basically force her into the shower because she smells like a cab driver. If she had her way, she would shower once a week and never brush her hair. She says she “forgets” to wear her deodorant and wants me to remind her. I don’t get why that needs to be placed on me…like it’s my responsibility to make sure she does what she should do on her own. You get up, get dressed, brush teeth and hair and put on deodorant. At 11 she should be doing that all on her own. This parenting thing can be incredibly frustrating at times. I shouldn’t have to threaten to take things away from her in order for her to bathe and take care of herself. Everything seems to turn into a power struggle with her, she’s always out to fight you in one way or another.

  6. Magdalena

    Hiya, my 8 year old son has had body odor and spots on his chest since he was around 6. I've taken him to the doctors multiple times and they just said to keep an eye but they don't do anything about it because he's slim and not over weigt. He showers every day, always has. I would use lemon once a week on his arm pits just to kill of bacteria naturally before washing, which did work but now it doesn't and he still smells. I purchased natural deodorant for children for him, so hopefully it'll work but I worry, I would have thought it is too early for him to be going through puberty at this age. Is there anything else that could cause this? I don't want him to feel embarrassed now that he is getting older. Thank you.

  7. Jay

    My son is 15 and when he sweats he stinks how do he prevent this from happening?

    1. Jacob Zipperer

      Hello Jay,

      Hope you are doing well. The tips from this part of the article may be helpful:
      'Around the time body odor starts, children should start taking a shower or bath every day. Bathing after physical activity is especially important to rinse away sweat that has combined with bacteria on the skin.

      “It’s really important that kids wear fresh underwear, socks and other clothing daily because sweaty clothes can harbor bacteria and cause odor,” Schaus said.

      Deodorant and antiperspirant can help reduce odor, including odor caused by sweating in active kids. Children can use an unscented product if they are sensitive to fragrances or don’t like the smell of scented deodorant.

      Besides practicing good hygiene, staying hydrated and eating a healthful diet that doesn’t include a lot of greasy food should keep body odor at bay.'

      Hope that helps,
      Jake

  8. Sy

    My 6yrs old girl cousin experiencing body odor . Ineed some advice doc please .. Thank you

    1. Jacob Zipperer

      Hello,

      Thank you for reaching out. As noted in the article, that is around the time when puberty may start for girls. However, if you have any concerns about the body odor, we recommend making an appointment with your child’s pediatrician. They can best advise you due to their knowledge of your child's medical history and past conditions.

      Thanks,
      Jake

  9. Me

    My daughter starting have body odor around age 6 and is now 7 and it seems a bit worst. It can occur at anytime. She is in great health, balanced diet, and active. Thoughts?

    1. Jacob Zipperer

      Hello,

      Thank you for reaching out. As noted in the article, that is around the time when puberty may start for girls. However, if it smells strange or you have any concerns about the body odor, we recommend making an appointment with your child’s pediatrician. They can best advise you due to their knowledge of your child's medical history and past conditions.

      Thanks,
      Jake

  10. Jessica

    My daughter had sever eczema and would often times break out in rashes on her chest, under her arms and other places. i had no choice but to put some of the steroid creams on her a lot of the time when the break outs would get out of control. Now I am noticing her eczema slowly fading away but she’s now grown thin hairs under her arms and has adult like body odor. She’s turning 8 in September. Is it puberty? Or because of the steroids in the hydro cortisone? Thanks!

    1. Jacob Zipperer

      Hello Jessica,

      We found an additional webpage that you may find helpful: https://nationaleczema.org/eczema/treatment/topicals/steroidsfaq/

      It mentions hair growth as a potential side effect.

      However we highly recommend talking to your daughter's doctor about this since he or she is most aware of her medical history and can best advise you.

      Thanks,
      Jake

  11. Ava

    My daughter is 11 and sweats a lot, is this normal?

    1. Jacob Zipperer

      Hi Ava,

      Hello,

      Thank you for reaching out. Body odor (including sweat) can start in children as young as 7-9 years old. This can be a sign that puberty is starting and can be managed with good hygiene. We have an additional blog post on sweating that you may find helpful: https://shine365.marshfieldclinic.org/wellness/sweating-too-much/

      If you think there may be a problem with your daughter's sweating or have any more questions, we highly recommend talking to your doctor or making an appointment.

      Thanks,
      Jake

  12. Dwayne

    Bosco
    My son age 6years and 6 month old, I noticed him that he sweats very fast but no odour, he is driving paddle scooter but within a minute he is sweating and getting whole t-shirt and even on face and hair become wet like he had bath, please suggest me an advice
    Tank you sirh

    1. Jacob Zipperer

      Hello,

      Thank you for reaching out. We have this additional blog post that you may find helpful: https://shine365.marshfieldclinic.org/wellness/sweating-too-much/

      If you think there may be a problem with your son's sweating or have any more questions, we highly recommend talking to your doctor or making an appointment.

      Thanks,
      Jake

  13. Donna

    Hey all, just thought I would share personal experience. I used to wear antiperspirants every day but this has helped me get away from daily use. Apple cider vinegar is a great bacteria killer. If soap and water are not addressing the odors, try wiping ACV under the arms for a day or two to get it under control.

  14. Jake Sayer

    Hi my name is Jake my son Victor is 12 he is hitting puberty and I noticed that everyday he puts on 2 coats and 3 shirts and I don't know why but then when I smell his original shirt it's smells bad I noticed he still snells like deodarent bad after he puts it on he says everyday in school he can't move his underarms he can't reach for stuff or the smell comes out what do I do?

    1. Jacob Zipperer

      Hello Jake,

      Thank you for reaching out. We recommend reaching out to your son's doctor regarding your question. He or she can help out the most because they are aware of his medical history and current conditions. We suggest you contact them.

      If you are a Marshfield Clinic patient, you can message your provider directly through My Marshfield Clinic: https://www.marshfieldclinic.org/mymarshfieldclinic

      Thank you – Jake

      1. Catherine

        My 12 year old daughter had been smelling weird, my son says she smells "spicy". It's awful. She still smells like it after a shower. Could this be puberty? I'm wondering if anyone else knows what I'm talking about.

      2. Jacob Zipperer

        Hello Catherine,

        Thank you for reaching out. This definitely could be a sign of puberty. However, we recommend making an appointment with your daughter's doctor to discuss this. They can best advise you since they know your child's medical history and past conditions.

        Thanks,
        Jake

    2. Andreas

      I suffered with underarm sweat when I was a kid at school and the sweat marks on my shirts were terrible. Deodorant would stop the smell but wouldn’t stop the wetness. When I was about 21 I discovered perspirex, and it’s changed my life ever since. Use once a week and it’s stopped the wetness completely. I’m 40 now and still use it once a week. Please get this for your son. It will change his life and I wish I discovered it when I was at school.

    3. Gabby

      Try Vichy’s (a French brand) 48h fragrance free deodorant. I buy online from England. It’s the only brand that worked for me.

    4. Kelly

      My son is turning 7 next week and I’ve noticed his bedding really stinks. I change it once a week or sometimes more because of this odour coming from it. He doesn’t smell himself, just his bedding. He washes regularly. What could it be?

      1. Jacob Zipperer

        Hello Kelly,

        If you have any concerns about the odor coming from your son's bedding, we recommend talking to your son's doctor. Your son's doctor would be able to best advise you due to his or her knowledge of your son's medical history and past conditions.

        Thanks,
        Jake

  15. Peter

    My 11 year old son doesn’t smell after playing sports. His hockey equipment has no odour. Is this normal?

    1. Jacob Zipperer

      Hi Peter – thanks for reaching out,

      We recommend talking to your son's doctor regarding your question. His doctor knows more about his medical history and can best advise you.

      Thanks,
      -Jake

  16. Tash

    My 3 year old daughter has really smelly armpits especially when she plays. She sweats excessively. She bathes multiple times per day due to excessive sweating. I'm very concerned.

    1. Jacob Zipperer

      Hello,

      Thank you for reaching out. Unfortunately, we are unable to provide individualized medical advice on this platform. Your daughter's doctor can help out the most because he or she is aware of her medical history and current conditions. We suggest you contact them.

      If you are a Marshfield Clinic patient, you can message your provider directly through My Marshfield Clinic: https://www.marshfieldclinic.org/mymarshfieldclinic

      Thank you – Jake

    2. Sheilah Mariah Rose

      Hello Tash … i came across this coz i have the exact same concern ,i noticed this when my daughter was aproaching 3,after playing her armpits smell like for a 15 year old !!in my country its very expensive to see a peditrician all the time! Did you ever find out whats the cause maybe i can relate?

  17. LeeAnn

    My daughter had bad smelling armpits at the age of 9 and she just turned 12 and they have stopped smelling… is that normal? She is having daily headaches and stomach aches as well as breathing tenderness…. I don’t know what is normal or not.

    1. Jacob Zipperer

      Thank you for contacting us, LeeAnn,

      We recommend talking to your daughter's doctor if you have any questions or concerns about her health. The doctor knows her medical history and can best advise you.

      -Jake

  18. Happy

    How do you get rid of the BO on underarms

    1. Jacob Zipperer

      Hello and thanks for reaching out!

      Some tips for preventing body odor that are listed in the article include: practicing good hygiene, staying hydrated and eating a healthful diet. If you are looking for additional tips, here is another article on the topic: https://www.healthline.com/health/smelly-armpits#1

      Thanks and hope that helps,
      Jake

  19. Grace

    My daughter is 3 months away from turning 7 and I noticed that her underarms have a smell to them? If she is this close to turning 7 should I be concerned or is this okay. I am thinking of purchasing some natural deodorant for her so she won't be smelly at school. Thoughts?

    1. Jacob Zipperer

      Hello Grace,

      Thank you for reading Shine365 and reaching out. In the article, Dr. Schaus says that, generally speaking, "if body odor starts before age 7-9 or smells strange, make an appointment with your child’s pediatrician. Certain medical conditions like Type 1 diabetes can cause an acetone-type smell. A diet that includes a lot of greasy food can cause odor in children of all ages."

      Hope that helps.

      Thanks,
      Jake

  20. Moosa

    Does body odour go away after puberty

    1. Jacob Zipperer

      Hello – thank you for contacting us.

      There are many conditions that can cause body odor. If the tips suggested in this story do not seem to help, consider visiting your doctor.

      -Jake

    2. Chloe manes

      Hi my son who is seven ( eight next month)
      Is already 4”6 wearing aged 10 clothing on luxe to his height
      Now his armpits have started to smell
      So does his hair
      He showers every day

      1. Jacob Zipperer

        Hi Chloe – thanks for reaching out,

        The article states that body odor can start in children as young as 7-9 years old. This can be a sign that puberty is starting and can be managed with good hygiene. However, if you have any concerns about your son's body odor or additional questions, we recommend reaching out to your son's doctor. He or she can help you out the most since they are most aware of his medical history.

        Thanks,
        Jake

  21. Hannah

    Is it normal for a five year olds armpits to smell

    1. Kirsten Shakal, Shine365 Editor

      Hi, Hannah. In the article, Dr. Schaus says – generally speaking – "If body odor starts before age 7-9 or smells strange, make an appointment with your child’s pediatrician. Certain medical conditions like Type 1 diabetes can cause an acetone-type smell. A diet that includes a lot of greasy food can cause odor in children of all ages."

      I hope this helps. -Kirstie

  22. Russ

    Hey I’m 19 years of age and all the sudden my armpits have just started smelling bad and they never have before even when I did sports and now I don’t do really any activities besides work and my underarms have just started Smelling can you help me figure out why ?and thankyou

    1. Kirsten Shakal, Shine365 Editor

      Hi, Russ. Thank you for contacting us.

      Have you called your doctor? There are some conditions that can cause body odor. If the tips suggested in this story do not seem to help, consider visiting your doctor.

      Generally speaking, Dr. Schaus has suggested to others with similar concerns trying antibacterial soap if you're not already using it in your washing routine.

      -Kirstie

  23. Tasha

    Hi I'm 19 years old I don't really sweat a lot but my body odour is really bad i literally have tried everything but I can't get rid of it .. my armpit area is mostly dry n covered with talc n deodorants but still it smell bad .. I'm really confused n worried about it ….it makes me so embarrassed.. plz try to help me out with this .. I don't know what's happening in me
    Btw I'm from India

    1. Kirsten Shakal, Shine365 Editor

      Hi, Tasha. Thank you for reaching out!

      Though we cannot provide individualized medical advice, Dr. Schaus has suggested to others with similar concerns trying antibacterial soap if you're not already using it in your washing routine. She has also recommended showering after physical activity.

      If the tips suggested in this story do not seem to help, consider visiting your doctor. There are some conditions that can cause body odor.

      -Kirstie

    2. Gabby

      Try Vichy’s 48h fragrance free deodorant. It’s the only brand that worked for me. I buy online from a retailer in England. It’s very important that the armpits are very well washed and clean before applying deodorant. Also, have you checked with a doctor?

  24. Sudha

    My 7 year old boy is around 12-14 percentile height of his age. I was concerned and took him to pediatrician appointment and they checked his bone age. His bone age is same as his actual age. After a month I have noticed that he is getting body odor and he started little faint mustache. . Do I need to concern about it ? Do I need to take him to see my pediatrician. If It is related to puberty his had no growth spurt at all. He is 7 years 9 months and he is 47.25 inches. Please advise !Thank you!

    1. Kirsten Shakal, Shine365 Editor

      Hi, Sudha. I just heard back from one of our pediatricians.

      She said, "I would be a bit concerned about this boy and would likely consult with a pediatric endocrinologist. I would encourage her to discuss this with her pediatrician."

      I hope that helps. -Kirstie

  25. Stefanie A Crawford

    My 7 year old boy is experiencing body odor! Should I be worried?? I never thought that it would be happening so soon! Has anyone went threw this with their child before and have some advice?

    1. Kirsten Shakal, Shine365 Editor

      Hi, Stefanie. Here's how Dr. Schaus addressed this in the story:

      “'Body odor signaling the start of puberty can start as early as age 7 for girls and age 9 for boys,' said Dr. Kathryn Schaus, a Marshfield Clinic pediatrician.

      If body odor starts before age 7-9 or smells strange, make an appointment with your child’s pediatrician. Certain medical conditions like Type 1 diabetes can cause an acetone-type smell. A diet that includes a lot of greasy food can cause odor in children of all ages."

      I hope that helps, and thank you for reading Shine365. -Kirstie

  26. Teresa

    My 19 year old son has extensive body odor (Even his hair stinks!) He has to shower morning and night, and this doesn’t even help. Could the reason be high testosterone? How can he prevent this odor?
    Thank you.

    1. Kirsten Shakal, Shine365 Editor

      Teresa – Thank you for the question. I shared your comment with pediatrician Dr. Schaus. Though we cannot provide individualized medical advice, she said antibacterial soap may be helpful if your son is not already using it in his washing routine. She also recommended he shower after physical activity, too, like gym class in school, rather than just morning and night.

      If the tips suggested in this story do not seem to help, consider suggesting your son visit his primary care provider. There are some conditions that can cause excessive sweating and body odor. If your son is a Marshfield Clinic patient, he can ask his provider questions via My Marshfield Clinic: https://www.marshfieldclinic.org/mymarshfieldclinic.

      Thank you for reading Shine365. -Kirstie

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *