Puberty-Related Hygiene Concerns: Body Odor, Acne and Menstruation
As children near puberty their bodies will likely begin to produce more strong-smelling sweat. As a result, body odor may become a problem. Some children who only needed to bathe a few times a week as preschoolers will probably start needing to bathe every day by the time they've turned 9 or 10. Children may also need to start using a daily underarm deodorant or antiperspirant to prevent body odor from becoming a problem during the day.
As children enter puberty, many will find that their skin becomes more oily, and particularly so with regard to their faces. Some children will begin to develop acne, otherwise known as pimples or zits.
Older children and their parents who are concerned about acne can choose from many over-the-counter (OTC) treatments. OTC acne treatment products are available in a variety of form factors, including facial cleansers, creams, lotions and astringents. Most of these products have their effect by drying out the skin where they are applied. Parents should teach children how to use these products as indicated on the product labeling. Generally, a recommended amount of the product will need to be applied to the problem areas one or more times each day. It is not usually the case that using more than the recommended dose of the product will cause better results. In fact, the opposite may be true, and children may end up aggravating their skin rather than causing it to look better. Parents should carefully read acne product labeling, understand the recommended dose and application schedule, and then carefully communicate this information to their children. Parents should also monitor their children's use of such products and intervene if there are problems. If acne does not improve with the proper use of OTC treatments, parents should consider taking affected children to see their family doctor or pediatrician, or a dermatologist (a medical doctor specialized in the treatment of skin problems) for additional treatment options.
Girls entering puberty need to learn how to care for feminine hygiene needs, including proper and safe methods for using and disposing of tampons and sanitary pads. We provide detailed information on how to educate girls about menstruation (a topic some adults find uncomfortable to talk about) in our Preparing Girls for Menstruation document.