At the onset of puberty, many teens notice a significant increase in body odor, which can lead to embarrassment and self-consciousness. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, puberty typically begins between the ages of eight and 14 in girls and between the ages of nine and 14 in boys.
Hormonal Changes and Body Odor
Hormonal changes in the body are to blame for most of the changes in body odor during the teen years. During puberty, the glands that control sweating become more active. In particular, the apocrine glands, which are concentrated under the arms, around the groin area and on the scalp, start producing a fatty form of sweat that attracts bacteria. The bacteria breaks down the sweat particles and produces a strong odor, which is the primary source of body odor in teens and adults.
Poor hygiene can significantly contribute to body odor. In some cases, a teen just doesn’t know how to keep himself clean or hasn’t thought about establishing a regular cleaning regimen. In other cases, the teen might be distracted by other activities, such as sports, schoolwork or social activities. She might put off taking a shower or bath, allowing sweat and bacteria to build up and cause body odor. Unwashed clothing that has been exposed to sweat can also build up an odor, so wearing the same clothes a few days in a row will also contribute to the problem.
A teen who is involved with drugs or alcohol may also neglect his health and hygiene, which can lead to an increase in body odor. Stopping the substance abuse can free up the teen’s attention to take care of personal care and may reduce body odor problems. If you need help transitioning to a drug-free or alcohol-free life, call 1-888-388-5605 today. Drugs and alcohol cause a plethora of health issues that are far worse than body odor so it’s important to get help today.
External Causes of Sweating
While the sweat glands are ultimately responsible for producing the sweat that causes body odor, there are a few external factors that can make you sweat more. To avoid the development of bad body odor, pay extra attention to your body and how much sweat you produce when you experience any of the following circumstances:
- Spending time in a hot climate or hot room
- Participating in physical activity or exerting yourself physically in any way
- Being under mental or emotional stress
- Experiencing anxiety or nervousness
While the causes of sweating and body odor are typically completely natural, a teen who wants to get rid of body odor has a few options she can try. Staying clean and dry is the primary way to control body odor, so you should shower or bathe every day and change into clean underwear and clothing whenever you becomes sweaty. If you sweat excessively or participate in activities that cause sweating, such as working out, playing sports or spending time in a hot room, showering immediately afterwards can help eliminate the sweat and bacteria that might lead to body odor a few hours later. Many teens also use an antiperspirant on the underarm area, which helps dry out the armpits and kills odor-causing bacteria that lives there. Some antiperspirants are also deodorants, so they contain a fragrance that helps mask any body odor that does occur. If normal antiperspirants don’t seem to be helping, you might want to talk to a doctor about getting a prescription-strength antiperspirant.
Causes for Concern
In some cases, excessive body odor might be a sign that something is wrong. If you notice a major change in how much you sweat or if you have body odor that won’t go away even when you wash regularly, report it to your parents and doctor. Sometimes diseases such as diabetes or kidney disease cause body odor and excessive sweating, so you might need to be tested for these potential problems. If an underlying disease is the cause, you will need to get treated for that disease before your body odor problem will lessen.