When Is it Safe to Use Deodorant for Kids?

Some kids go through puberty early and need to start using deodorant.

Make sure bath time isn't just play time.
Make sure bath time isn't just play time. Photo by Getty Images

Most kids need to begin using a deodorant when they are going through puberty. Some do have noticeable body odor and need to use a deodorant every day even before they start puberty, though.

Noticing the First Signs of Puberty

Since body odor is linked to puberty, it is important to determine if your kids have started puberty already. Keep in mind that girls typically start puberty between the ages of 8 and 13, while boys start when they are between 9 and 14 years old.

Signs of puberty can include breast development in girls, vocal changes in boys, and pubic hair or underarm (axillary) hair. If you do notice any of these signs, talk to your pediatrician.

Controlling Body Odor

If you child is not starting puberty but has a strong body odor, there are ways you can help them control any odors beyond just using deodorant. It's important to teach your child personal hygiene basics, including:

  • Bathing daily, and in the morning, if possible 
  • Showering after sports or other sweat-inducing activities 
  • Washing all parts of the body, including the armpits, genitals, and feet, when they take a bath or shower
  • Wearing clean underwear, socks, and clothes every day
  • Buying loose fitting cotton clothing, which may help them to sweat less
  • Watching their diet to see if something they are eating, like garlic, onions, or spicy food is causing, or at least contributing, to their body odor. 

    You might also change the brand of soap your child uses or consider using an antibacterial deodorant soap like Dial. 

    Deodorants for Pre-Teens

    If these tips don't stop your child's body odor, you may want to introduce them to using deodorant. Since there aren't many deodorants that are designed for children at this age, you might consider using one that is marketed for pre-teens or teens.

    Degree, Tom's of Maine and Fresh Kidz all make deodorant for children. Many larger brands like Secret and Ban make brightly colored and scented deodorants for teens that can be used for kids as well. If you want a natural deodorant option, Tom's of Maine, Junior Varsity Natural Deodorant for Kids, and Fresh Kids make natural deodorants for kids. You can also buy your child a combination deodorant and antiperspirant, which may be necessary if they sweat a lot.

    It is not necessary to use a natural deodorant as most deodorants do not contain any harmful ingredients. Some people are concerned about the aluminum content in antiperspirant, but studies have shown little risk associated with using products containing aluminum on your skin. If you are concerned about the contents in antiperspirant, try using a natural product or just a deodorant. 

    It is certainly not unheard of for active prepubertal children, even those who practice good hygiene, to need to use deodorant. Since they are a little younger than average to need a deodorant, talk to your pediatrician if you have any concerns or general hygiene tips alone don't help.

    Sources:

    Kliegman: Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics, 18th ed.

    Continue Reading