Does your funky 6-y-o need deodorant?

Nadine Wilson

Monday, January 14, 2013

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IT is generally expected that children will develop body odour as they approach puberty, but some children will start exuding this type of odour long before the pre-teen years, especially if they are very active.

The natural remedy for body odour for a teenager or an adult would be deodorant, but when it comes to a child, who is say six or seven, Paediatrician Dr Maolynne Miller feels the least drastic option should be chosen.

"Usually I recommend just baking soda which doesn't have anything in it," she said. "But if it doesn't work, then you really don't have much choice than to use a deodorant. You should use the mildest one in the smallest possible amount," said the paediatrician.

Body odour is caused when bacteria break down the secretions from the skin.

Changes during puberty, which include underarm hair growth, usually increase the activities of the secretory glands so they produce even more secretions.

Body odour in young children in a tropical climate such as Jamaica is not uncommon, and can be caused by a number of factors, including wearing too much synthetic material which reacts with sweat to produce this odour.

There are also several medical conditions that would cause a child to start having body odour long before puberty, which usually occurs between the ages of eight and 12. The early onset of puberty is called precocious puberty and children who suffer from this would have rapid growth, breast development and body hair.

Some children also suffer from hyperhydrosis which causes them to sweat excessively. Some foods are also believed to lead to body odour and so too can metabolic disorders that result in the formation of particular chemicals. These disorders have other symptoms as well, such as poor growth and seizures.

"If it's just an armpit odour, that's not a problem too much, but if it is in conjunction with pubic hair and armpit hair, then it needs to be investigated," said Dr Miller.

Sometimes, better personal hygiene is all that's needed to treat body odour.

Showering often and wearing cotton clothes can help to combat this problem.

"You can use a deodorant that is as mild as possible, because some of them are very strong and they might get allergic reactions to it. But I don't have any scientific evidence to say they should not use it because you can get cancer or whatever," she said.




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