Children and Deodorant: When Should They Start Using It?

Using deodorant is a necessity when metabolic changes lead to unpleasant body odors. However, the most important thing is to maintain good hygiene.
Children and Deodorant: When Should They Start Using It?

Written by Edith Sánchez

Last update: 18 July, 2022

Growth brings with it many changes at puberty. Among them are body odors, such as under the armpits. It’s then that the question arises about the use of deodorant in children.

The issue worries many parents, as using deodorant in children has its pros, but also its cons. These products often contain aggressive chemicals and there’s a valid question as to whether they’re a good option.

In fact, some children who have barely grown up already have some unpleasant body odors. In these cases, there are even more questions about whether it’s a good idea or not for children to use deodorant. When is the right time?

Why does body odor occur?

Before determining the right time to use deodorant in children, let’s analyze why body odor changes during growth. The sweat glands in the armpits and groin are different from those in the rest of the body. These are called apocrine sweat glands.

This type produces sweat that has a higher fat content. Also, as the armpits and groin are areas where there are skin folds, which are more prone to moisture. Together, this causes more bacteria to accumulate there.

Bacteria in these areas process the high-fat sweat. In doing so, they produce different compounds that give rise to odor. Now, this change in the sweat glands and the change in body odors appears in a phase called adrenarche.


Adrenarche is a normal developmental phase in which pubic hair, mild acne, and changes in body odor begin to appear. This process precedes puberty and usually occurs around age 9 in boys and around age 8 in girls.

The metabolic change raises the question of whether or not to use deodorant in these children. Sometimes, there is a hormonal abnormality that leads to premature adrenarche, that is, the process appears earlier than expected. It occurs more in girls and occurs between the ages of 3 and 8 years.

There is also the case of more sweating than normal, both in children with early adrenarche and in those with premature adrenarche. This condition is called hyperhidrosis and is common in childhood.

A girl squeezing a spot.
Puberty encompasses physical and psychological changes. Among the former is the modification of the sweat glands, which is coupled with incipient acne.

When should children start using deodorant?

The best time for children to start using deodorant is usually between the ages of 10 and 12. However, this can’t be generalized. As we have made clear, sometimes body odor appears earlier. If regular hygiene isn’t sufficient, the use of these products may be necessary.

As a general rule, when armpit hair begins to appear, the change in body odor also begins. Under normal conditions, this can be combated with proper hygiene.

It isn’t advisable to use deodorant at a very early age.

If the child has very intense body odors and isn’t old enough to use deodorant, the pediatrician should be consulted for advice on what to do. The same applies to children with excessive sweating or a strong odor.

You might also be interested in: 5 Natural Deodorants to Eliminate Bad Armpit Odor

How to choose the right deodorant

More important than using a deodorant is choosing the right one. The first thing to keep in mind is that children have more delicate skin than adults. Based on this premise, it is usually a priority to choose a cream, roll-on, or stick product.

These types facilitate absorption into the skin. Also, it may be appropriate to choose those with the organic label, which are usually made with softer and more skin-friendly formulas. The product shouldn’t contain alcohol.

It isn’t advisable for a child under 12 years of age to use an antiperspirant. These formulas tend to inhibit the production of sweat in the area. Ideally, they should only be used after the age of 14.

Hygiene measures

In principle, it’s best for the child to manage body odors without using deodorant. Especially if the child is under 10 years old.

Sometimes, basic hygiene measures are enough to control these unpleasant aromas:

  • Bathe every day and after activities that cause heavy sweating.
  • Wash all parts of the body thoroughly, especially armpits, genitals, and feet.
  • Dry thoroughly after bathing. Moisture favors the proliferation of bacteria.
  • Don’t put clothes back on that have already been used.
  • Use loose-fitting cotton clothing.
  • Avoid plastic shoes.
A boy in a gym.
After performing activities that cause sweating, a bath is recommended to protect the skin.

Deodorant in children is only a complement

Both in cases of hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating) and bromhidrosis (extremely strong odor), the best thing is not to use deodorant in excess, but to go to the pediatrician. They’ll know what’s best to do.

To maintain a good body odor, basic hygiene measures should be observed. Deodorant is a complement to hygiene and not the basis of it.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Villanueva, J. (2004). Biología de las glándulas sudoríparas ecrinas. Revista de la Asociación Colombiana de Dermatología y Cirugía Dermatológica, 12(1), 49-60.
  • Molano, F. J. M., Zallo, L. A., Rodríguez, M. F., Segura, P. P., Pérez, T. G., Calvo, M. L. S., & Guillén, L. S. (2017, November). Estudio de la asociación de adrenarquia prematura idiopática con la presencia de alteraciones metabólicas y con antecedente de pequeño para edad gestacional. In Anales de Pediatría (Vol. 87, No. 5, pp. 253-259). Elsevier Doyma.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.