When your child was younger, you taught your child the basics of good hygiene, washing hands, covering their mouth when they cough and having regular baths or showers. Adolescence is a time to build on these basics. It is a time when your child’s changing body means that personal hygiene will need to change too.
Good hygiene habits in childhood are a great foundation for good hygiene in the teenage years. Keeping clean is an important part of staying healthy. The simple act of washing hands before eating and after using the toilet is a proven and effective way of fighting off germs and avoiding sickness.
Being clean is also an important part of confidence for teenagers. If your child’s body and breath smell nice, their clothes are clean, and they’re on top of their basic personal hygiene, it can help your child feel comfortable with other people.
You have got an important role to play in making sure your child knows about how their body and hygiene needs are going to change, and in getting your child ready to manage the changes. The earlier you can start having these conversations, the better, ideally, before your child hits puberty.
When children reach puberty, a new type of sweat gland develops in their armpits and genital areas. Skin bacteria feed on the sweat this type of gland produces, and this can lead to body odor. If your child washes their body and changes their clothes regularly, especially after physical activity, it will help to reduce the build-up of bacteria and avoid body odor. Changing underwear and other clothes worn next to the skin is especially important. These clothes collect dead skin cells, sweat, and body fluids, which bacteria love to eat. That is why they get smelly.
The onset of puberty is also a good time for your child to use antiperspirant deodorant. You can encourage your child to do this by letting them choose one. Note that there are many products that are deodorants but not antiperspirants. These products simply cover up odor. Antiperspirants stop body odor by controlling how much your child sweats.
Smelly feet and shoes can also be a problem for teenagers, whether or not they are sporty. Your child can avoid this issue by giving their feet extra attention in the shower and making sure they are completely dry before putting shoes on. Encourage your child to alternate shoes and to wear cotton socks instead of ones made from synthetic fibers.
Good dental and mouth hygiene is as important now as it was when your child was little, and you will need to keep making regular dental appointments for your child. Brushing teeth twice a day, flossing, and going to the dentist regularly are vital if your child wants to avoid bad breath, gum problems, and tooth decay.
If you keep reinforcing messages about personal hygiene, most children will get there in the end. It will help to give your child praise and encouragement for carrying out hygiene activities.