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Child Body Odor
October 2003

Q. I need help with my 15-year-old daughter. She has horrible body odor. It's only under her armpits. She has had it since she was very young and it's getting worse. We have tried many things, but nothing seems to help. I have spoken with her pediatrician and a dermatologist about it and we tried a product called Drysol, but she still has strong body odor.

She has very good hygiene--she showers every day--sometimes twice a day. She is becoming very self-conscience of this and I don't want it to become a social problem too. Can you offer suggestions for this problem? Is there a different type of doctor she needs to see?

A. The problem of body odor is unusual in a child. Everybody perspires or sweats as a means of regulating body temperature. The perspiration itself is mostly water, but when mixed with the bacteria that normally reside on the skin can lead to odor. Normal regular bathing with soap and water is usually sufficient to keep the odor at a minimum, but in some cases this is not enough.

In adults, deodorants will help inhibit the bacteria and resulting odor, and anti-perspirants will lessen the amount of sweating that occurs. In addition an antibacterial soap may be helpful. Certain foods can cause an unpleasant odor to the sweat, and there are some endocrine disorders that can affect the odor of sweat. In addition to the dermatologist, consulting an endocrinologist may be helpful. Check with your pediatrician to determine what is appropriate for your child.



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