A healthy living blog from Marshfield Clinic Health System

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

Image of a sweaty armpit - t-shirt

Sweaty clothes can harbor bacteria and cause body odor. Kids should wear fresh clothes daily once puberty starts.

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

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 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 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.

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

Time to practice good hygiene

Body odor is natural, but it still can make kids self-conscious.

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.

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

51 Comments
  1. Avatar Apr 25, 2021
  2. Avatar Feb 20, 2021
  3. Avatar Feb 6, 2021
    • Avatar Feb 8, 2021
  4. Avatar Sep 24, 2020
    • Avatar Sep 24, 2020
  5. Avatar Aug 27, 2020
    • Avatar Aug 27, 2020
  6. Avatar Jul 2, 2020
    • Avatar Jul 6, 2020
  7. Avatar Jun 25, 2020
    • Avatar Jun 29, 2020
  8. Avatar May 28, 2020
    • Avatar May 29, 2020
  9. Avatar Apr 15, 2020
  10. Avatar Jan 27, 2020
    • Avatar Jan 28, 2020
      • Avatar Oct 26, 2020
      • Avatar Oct 27, 2020
    • Avatar Apr 19, 2020
    • Avatar Jul 6, 2020
    • Avatar Aug 8, 2020
      • Avatar Aug 10, 2020
  11. Avatar Dec 15, 2019
    • Avatar Dec 16, 2019
  12. Avatar Nov 21, 2019
    • Avatar Nov 21, 2019
    • Avatar May 17, 2020
  13. Avatar Nov 8, 2019
    • Avatar Nov 11, 2019
  14. Avatar Oct 20, 2019
    • Avatar Oct 21, 2019
  15. Avatar Oct 11, 2019
    • Avatar Oct 14, 2019
  16. Avatar Jul 3, 2019
    • Avatar Jul 3, 2019
    • Avatar Apr 11, 2020
      • Avatar Apr 13, 2020
  17. Avatar Mar 12, 2019
    • Kirsten Shakal, Shine365 Editor Mar 13, 2019
  18. Avatar Feb 28, 2019
    • Kirsten Shakal, Shine365 Editor Feb 28, 2019
  19. Avatar Feb 12, 2019
    • Kirsten Shakal, Shine365 Editor Feb 14, 2019
    • Avatar Jul 6, 2020
  20. Avatar Dec 9, 2018
    • Kirsten Shakal, Shine365 Editor Jan 7, 2019
  21. Avatar Sep 14, 2018
    • Kirsten Shakal, Shine365 Editor Sep 17, 2018
  22. Avatar Apr 15, 2018
    • Kirsten Shakal, Shine365 Editor Apr 16, 2018

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.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

View our comment policy