When Is It Safe for Kids to Use Deodorant?

Starting to use deoderant

Verywell / JR Bee  

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

First Signs of Puberty

Since body odor is linked to puberty, it's important to determine if your child has started puberty already. Girls typically start puberty between the ages of 8 and 13, while boys usually start when they're 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 in either sex. If you notice that any of these signs are starting too early (before age 8 in a girl and age 9 in a boy), talk to your pediatrician.

Precocious (early) puberty can occur for no known reason, but other medical conditions might cause some of these changes. You can also ask your doctor to check for hyperhidrosis, the medical term for excessive sweating, which often begins in childhood.

Managing Body Odor

If your child hasn't started puberty but has a strong body odor, it may because they sweat more than other kids, or have more of the bacteria that leads to stinkiness on their skin. There are ways you can help your child control odor beyond just using deodorant, though. For instance, it's important to teach your child personal hygiene basics, including:

  • Bathing daily; let them pick out soaps and other products they would like to use to encourage bathing
  • Showering after sports or other sweat-inducing activities
  • Washing all parts of the body, including the more smell-prone armpits, genitals, and feet, when bathing or showering
  • Wearing clean underwear, socks, and clothes every day
  • Choosing loose-fitting, breathable clothing, which isn't occlusive and may help them sweat less
  • Watching their diet to see if something they eat, such as garlic, onions, or spicy food, may be causing or contributing to body odor

You might also change the brand of soap your child uses. A different soap may be more effective at managing 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. Products marketed for pre-teens or teens aren't much different than those for adults, but kids often prefer a product made specifically for them.

Degree, Tom's of Maine, and Fresh Kidz all make deodorants for children. Many larger brands, like Secret and Ban, make brightly colored and scented deodorants for teens that can be used for younger kids too. If you want a natural (phthalate and paraben-free) option, Tom's of Maine, Junior Varsity, and Fresh Kidz make them for kids.

You can also buy your child a combination of deodorant and antiperspirant, which may be necessary if the child sweats a lot. While deodorant masks odor caused by sweat, antiperspirants uses ingredients—usually aluminum-based complexes—that stop wetness by blocking sweat glands.

Some people are concerned about the aluminum content in antiperspirant, which has been linked to Alzheimer's disease and breast cancer, but studies have shown little risk associated with using products containing aluminum on your skin. Aluminum salts are the only antiperspirant ingredient proven—and approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration—to control wetness.

A Word From Verywell

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

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Article Sources
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  1. Lam TH, Verzotto D, Brahma P, et al. Understanding the microbial basis of body odor in pre-pubescent children and teenagers. Microbiome. 2018;6(1):213. doi:10.1186/s40168-018-0588-z

  2. National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. Puberty and Precocious Puberty: Condition Information. Updated December 1, 2016.

  3. Carel JC, Lahlou N, Roger M, Chaussain JL. Precocious puberty and statural growth. Hum Reprod Update. 2004;10(2):135-47. doi:10.1093/humupd/dmh012

  4. Gelbard CM, Epstein H, Hebert A. Primary pediatric hyperhidrosis: A review of current treatment options. Pediatr Dermatol. 2008;25(6):591-8. doi:10.1111/j.1525-1470.2008.00782.x

  5. Urban J, Fergus DJ, Savage AM, et al. The effect of habitual and experimental antiperspirant and deodorant product use on the armpit microbiome. PeerJ. 2016;4:e1605. doi:10.7717/peerj.1605

  6. Klotz K, Weistenhöfer W, Neff F, Hartwig A, Van thriel C, Drexler H. The Health Effects of Aluminum Exposure. Dtsch Arztebl Int. 2017;114(39):653-659. doi:10.3238/arztebl.2017.0653

Additional Reading
  • Nelson WE, Kliegman RM. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. Elsevier; 2016.