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You may be in love with that sweet fragrance associated with babies as you hold them close to you. But then this notion goes out of the window as they grow older and come in closer contact with the environment. As they grow older, they become more active and always like to dig their face first into the trash. However, there is a huge difference between a kid getting stinky owing to their interaction with the environment and actually developing body odour. As a parent, if you find your child is developing an odour even with a good hygiene routine, then it could be a cause for concern.
Is Body Odour in Children Normal?
Body odour is caused when bacteria act on the sweat produced by the sweat glands in our body. The eccrine sweat glands present throughout the body release sweat when you have a fever, eat spicy food or in hot and humid condition. The apocrine glands, sensitive to adrenaline release, sweat when the body experiences physical activity, fear, anxiety or stress. The sweat created by these glands are generally oily and odourless but can create odour on interaction with bacteria.
Body odour emitted in children is hardly noticeable. Children aged under eight do not have an odour. However, prepubescent teens and teenagers may have a distinct odour. So if your 12 -year old sends a whiff of bad odour, it is simply a sign of the onset of puberty. If your girl sweats and smells like an adult at around eight and your boy at around nine, then there is no need to worry. But if your 3-8 year old is getting smelly, then it is a cause of alarm and must not go unnoticed.
Body Odour Symptoms in Children
Body odour is characterised by a pungent strong smell emanating from a particular part of the body like the armpits, feet and pubic area. Smell is the key symptom of body odour. In addition, you will also notice the following,
- Excess sweating
- Sweating during sleep
- Cold hands
- Weight Loss
The endocrine system which is a collection of hormone-producing glands is affected by an infection or any other condition and cause the above symptoms. In some cases, severe symptoms like below could also be noticed if caused by severe medical conditions
Causes of Body Odour in Kids
Anything is easier to be dealt with if you are aware of the cause. Some common causes that cause body odour in kids:
1. Poor Hygiene
Lack of proper hygiene, irregular bathing, dirty armpits, groin areas are common causes of body odour. The bacteria accumulated in the clothes stick to the sweat and releases the odour.
2. Food habits
Food that your child eats has a direct correlation to body odour. What goes in comes out in a distasteful manner. The food consumed not only affects their breath but their odour too. After some food are digested they seep into the pores of the skin and create an odour. Some common food that causes odour in kids and adults are:
- Garlic and onions.
- Red meat which has an amino acid called carnitine.
- Milk and dairy products take a longer time to digest so excess consumption. releases methyl mercaptan and hydrogen sulphide causing a foul smell.
- Smelly food like fish, eggs, legumes and other spicy food.
- Processed food and foods that lack fibre.
If your child is closer to the puberty attaining age, then body odour is quite normal. Girls reach puberty between 10 and 14 and boys between 12 and 15. During this phase, their body goes through a lot of hormonal changes leading to changes in their physical appearance and behaviour. Their sweat glands work overtime and it is normal for them to have body odour. Early sexual maturation in kids known as Adrenarche is another cause for body odour.
4. Fish Odour Syndrome (Trimethylaminuria)
A rare condition caused by the abnormal production of Flavin enzyme, trimethylaminuria is a metabolic disorder in children. It stops the chemical trimethyluria from breaking down to trimethylamine oxide. This results in the chemical getting accumulated and causes the urine, breath and sweat to smell like a fish.
5. Underlying Medical Condition
A very distinct body odour in your child signals an underlying medical condition like a kidney or liver-related ailment, diabetes or inflammation of organs. If your child is sweating profusely then they may have hyperhidrosis. It is necessary to seek medical intervention in such instances.
Medical Treatment for Body Odour in a Child
Medical treatments for body odour depends on the cause of the condition. In addition to personal hygiene, doctors recommend the following to treat body odour children
- In case of hyperhidrosis, topical anti-bacterial creams may be prescribed to reduce the pungent smell. Drying agents which prevent excessive sweating and stop the growth of bacteria.
- Medications containing aluminium chloride hexahydrate may be recommended in case of excessive sweating in armpits and the limbs.
- Body odour caused by trimethylaminuria could be tackled by a change in diet. Avoid food like eggs, milk, fish, peanuts, soy products and cabbage. Antibiotics may be prescribed to prevent the growth of bacteria. Laxatives may be recommended to reduce the amount of trimethylamine in your gut.
- Adrenarche cannot be treated with medication. It is best to treat it as an involved parent.
Effective Home Remedies for Body Odour in Kids
Some home remedies to treat body odour:
1. Lemon juice in bath water
Lemon juice increases the pH levels of the body and keeps it dry thereby preventing the growth of bacteria. Add a few drops to the bath water.
2. Apply lemon juice to sensitive areas
Dilute a spoonful of lemon juice with a cup of water and dab it on your child’s armpits with a cotton ball soaked in the concoction. Leave it for ten minutes and rinse it with water.
3. Treat bath water with tomato juice
Treat your kid’s bath water with two cups of tomato juice and let it soak for a few minutes. Bathe your kids with this water.
4. Cleanse with apple cider vinegar
Dab a cotton ball soaked in apple cider vinegar on the parts of the body which sweat for a few minutes before a bath. Repeat this procedure twice a day before bath for best results.
5. Make a deodourant with Rosemary
Rosemary contains menthol and chlorophyll, acting as natural deodorants to fight odour- causing bacteria. Boil a cup of rosemary leaves in a cup of water and add to bath water. Soak your kid in the bathtub with this mixture for 15 minutes and pat dry. Alternatively, you could add rosemary oil to bath water.
6. Treat water with Sage
A fragrant herb, Sage controls hyperactivity of sweat glands. Boil a cup of dried sage leaves in water and add to bath water. Mix sage oil, coriander oil and lavender essential oil to make a deodorant and spray it every day.
7. Use Hazel
Hazel has astringent properties to reduce odour. Soak a cotton ball and dab onto armpits.
Tips to Prevent Body Odour in your Child
A few useful tips to prevent body odour:
- Maintain good personal hygiene and talk you children or teenager about the importance of maintaining hygiene.
- Make sure your kid takes bath every day, twice if possible and cleans their armpits, limbs and genitals well
- Ensure your children wear clean clothes which are washed and dry. Dissuade them from repeating clothes
- Make sure that kids wear shoes that are clean and dry as wet shoes could result in infections
- Ask your child to stay hydrated and drink lots of water
- Try replacing cow’s milk with organic, soy or almond milk
- Avoid foods that can cause body odour
- Increase the intake of fresh, green leafy vegetables and include aromatic herbs like basil, sage and rosemary to their diet. Chlorophyll in plants is a natural body cleanser.
1. Does Showering Daily Eliminates Child’s Body Odour
Showering daily or even twice a day will not always help to get rid of body odour. This is because you cannot “wash away” body odour caused due to a medical condition.
2. Is it Safe for Children to Use Deodorant?
Deodorant could mask child underarm odour caused due to hygiene issues and puberty. But in case of odour caused by medical conditions, they may be of no help.
Body odour will surface as children grow up. However, if maintaining personal hygiene and home remedies to keep odour at bay are not working, it is time to seek medical intervention.