One fateful day in Oregon, two middle school teachers canceled their classes to give a 2-hour long emergency seminar on body odor, changing bodies, and how to shower correctly. As a 13-year-old girl who finally hit puberty, I was half mortified and half grateful. It was new info! As an adult, I now know the importance of teaching children proper hygiene while they’re young. That way, they won’t have to learn it in emergency bathing seminars (or at the very least, won’t be the reason for one…)
We all know teens and preteens can smell pretty funky. But if you’ve ever had an 8-year-old take off his sweaty shin guards in the backseat of your car or a 4-year-old give you a sticky hug after hours of playing in the hot sun, then you know teens and adults aren’t the only ones who can stink. Kids of all ages are blessed with the ability to make you smile with pride (and simultaneously gasp for fresh air).
In a perfect world, baths and showers would be a relaxing bedtime ritual, as well as a time to bond with your little ones. But as kids get older and little siblings enter the picture, all bets are off. You might be lucky to get your kids in the tub 2-3 times a week - let alone take a shower yourself… This can lead to some interesting household smells.
So what can parents do to help their little ones and not-so-little ones traverse this stinky new territory? It’s really all about open communication and education! We have some great tips to share, but first, we need to talk about why
WHY DO KIDS STINK?
Body odor is one of the earliest signs of puberty and can begin as soon as 7-9 years old. The new, funky smell under children’s arms and elsewhere on their bodies comes from puberty hormones stimulating their apocrine sweat glands. Tween B.O. is powerful stuff - enough to make teachers cancel class. But it’s not their fault! It’s biology.
Ready for a little science lesson? There are two kinds of sweat glands on the human body: eccrine and apocrine.
Eccrine sweat glands cover almost your entire body and are responsible for most of your sweat. These glands are teeny tiny and open directly onto your skin. Eccrine sweat is clear, odorless, and mostly made of water. These glands are active your whole life.
Eccrine sweat glands serve three purposes: 1) cooling the surface of your skin, 2) excreting water and other trace substances such as electrolytes, and 3) helping preserve your skin’s acid mantle, which protects skin from excess bacteria growth.
Apocrine sweat glands (the ones that go into turbo mode at the start of puberty) don’t open directly onto your skin. They open into hair follicles and are located mostly in your armpits, groin, and scalp. Apocrine sweat is originally odorless as well, but is thicker than eccrine sweat, because it has some other substances in it like oils and lipids. Apocrine sweat is an absolute FEAST for bacteria. Seriously, they love it.
The purpose of apocrine sweat glands is a little less cut-and-dried, but they’re active during stress (AKA they’re the reason for stinky stress sweat).Sweat from both eccrine and apocrine glands originally smells like nothing at all. The problem is that the bacteria living on our skin LOVE sweat, especially apocrine sweat. Bacteria eats it, and this produces some nasty smells.
Long story short, puberty hormones cause the apocrine sweat glands to activate and go into overdrive. Then, bacteria ingest, digest, and egest (poo!) all over your child, until your precious angel begins to smell like an NFL player. (To read more on how hormonal changes throughout our lives can affect body odor, click here
What about stinky kindergarten-age kids? Puberty and apocrine sweat aren’t the only causes of smell. Even though the apocrine sweat glands aren’t activated yet, younger children can get pretty smelly anywhere bodily fluids and bacteria meet!
If you’ve ever caught a whiff of a four-year-old’s feet after she refused to wear socks with her sneakers, you know what I’m talking about.
You’re probably thinking by now, Stop teaching me sweat biology. Just teach me what to do about it!
Hang in there. Now that you understand WHY kids stink, we can dive into how to STOP the stink!
SO WHAT CAN I DO?
Body odor can be a tricky topic to bring up with your child. It’s important to help them understand that odor is 100% normal and nothing to be ashamed of. Remind them that everyone is naturally a little stinky, and proper hygiene can remove and prevent these natural odors. Let your child know this is important because good hygiene makes you feel more confident, can decrease your chance of illness and infections, and makes people feel more comfortable around you!
Hopefully this list can help you approach this important topic with your child!
HOW TO TEACH YOUR CHILD ABOUT HYGIENE:
Teach ‘Em Young. The earlier you teach your child the better, if only because it’s much easier to teach a curious 3-year-old than a private 12-year-old. But it’s never too late!
Bathing. Teach your child how to wash their body, preferably before they are old enough to bathe or shower alone. Make sure not to assume your child knows what body parts they should be washing! Teach them how to wash their hair, armpits, private parts, buttocks, and feet.
Groin. Teach children to wash their groin area front-to-back to prevent bacteria spreading from the buttocks to private parts. This is especially important for girls, whose anatomy makes them more prone to infection. It’s also a good idea to use gentle soaps, free from harsh sulfates, which may irritate some individuals. Lume Natural Soap for Face & Body is a great, gentle option.
Body Hair. Kids and preteens going through puberty have hair growing in new places. This hair provides more surface area for bacteria to grow, which means increased odor. Teach your child that cleaning body hair well will remove odors and that possibly trimming some hair is an option as well.
Deodorant. Children start puberty at vastly different ages, and body odor is one of the very first signs. This means it’s not uncommon for children as young as 7, 8, or 9 to benefit from some deodorant. If you feel your child is too young for deodorant, it might ease your mind to use a skin-safe, natural one like Lume Deodorant for Underarms & Private Parts, which is free from aluminum, baking soda, and parabens, and is safe to use anywhere on your external body.
- Keeping Lume Deodorant Wipes on-hand make it highly convenient to address odor on-the-go. It's basically a shower in your pocket kids can take anywhere, and it can give them better peace of mind knowing there's another way to combat sudden B.O. You can even choose between soft-pack or individually-wrapped single wipes.
Stinky Feet. Washing feet removes odor, but doesn’t prevent it. If stinky feet is an issue, make sure your child wears socks with shoes when possible. Natural-fiber socks like 100% cotton or wool are best, because synthetic fibers trap odors. Lume Deodorant is also great for feet! After your child’s bath, you can apply a pea-sized amount of Lume like a lotion to your child’s feet and in between toes to control foot odor for up to 72 hours.
HOW DOES LUME WORK?
- Lume Deodorant is a natural deodorant developed by Shannon Klingman, M.D. Lume is for underarms, feet, and private parts and can control odor for up to 72 hours. It is safe and gentle enough for use anywhere on your external body.
- Lume doesn’t use fragrances to cover up odor – it actually stops odors before they start! It creates a protective barrier on your skin to prevent bacteria from digesting bodily fluids and creating unpleasant smells. In clinical testing, Lume virtually eliminated odor.
Lume Deodorant isn’t just for puberty pits. Lume is safe to use anywhere on your external body and works wonders for young children who may not have odorous underarms yet, but whose cute little feet could wilt a daisy.
- Little kids should be treated with a gentle remedy that can stand up to the varsity stink they can deal out. Lume is full of gentle ingredients and has a pH that protects your skin’s acid mantle, instead of disrupting it like baking soda-based deodorant.
- Make sure to supervise any young children using Lume and teach them how to use it properly. Lume is only for external use.
LUME HAS GOT YOUR FAMILY COVERED!
Lume is a powerful game changer for parents looking to keep their sweet-smelling kids sweet a little longer. Lume will make car rides home from soccer practice (or hockey, ballet, basketball, baseball, dance, and gymnastics) smell more like celebratory froyo and less like dirty socks.
It can be tricky to discuss and manage your child’s body odor. Make sure your child knows body odor is completely natural and nothing to be ashamed of! Smells happen – proper hygiene removes them, and Lume prevents them. ❤️
With a little Lume and a lot of love, you can help your child navigate through this smelly new world!
WHY PEOPLE ARE LOVING LUME DEODORANT FOR KIDS:
“I have been looking for anatural deodorant for myself and my kids, and I finally found it! Thank you, Lume! I sweat so much doing yard work/going to the gym, and my daughter is going through puberty and doesn't smell great. This is the best deodorant on the market!!No smell no matter what we do!”
“I have suffered from embarrassing sweating and odor since I was a teen. Now, as a momI was watching my kids suffer as well! We tried everything! Pills, wipes, expensive deodorant, only wearing certain fabric, special laundry detergent, extra perfume... I have used Lume for a week now.I'm absolutely blown away! I don't smell! Not at all! I just ordered more for my kids. I can't say enough good things! If you are on the fence- give it a try! You won't regret it! Thank you Lume!”