When Is It Safe for Kids to Use Deodorant?

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

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 years, while boys start when they are between 9 and 14 years.

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

  • Bathing daily—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 the child sweat less
  • Watching the child's diet to see if something they are eating, like garlic, onions, or spicy food is causing or contributing to their body odor

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

Help Your Tween Prevent Body Odor

Deodorants for Pre-Teens

If these tips don't stop your child's body odor, you may want to introduce your child 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 them for kids. You can also buy your child a combination deodorant and antiperspirant, which may be necessary if the child sweats 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. But 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.

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Article Sources
  • Nelson WE, Kliegman RM. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. Philadelphia: Elsevier; 2016.