The Tween Hygiene Routine

Growing adolescent bodies call for more grown-up personal care habits

WRITTEN BY Kinsey Gidick

Ah, the awkward teenage years. That roller coaster of social pressures and academic stressors, made even more dizzying by the ups and downs of physical change. Shifting hormones lead to a number of developments that warrant attention, including perspiration, body odor, acne and menstruation. “With gentle encouragement, parents can help teens and tweens find a balance as they transition into caring for their maturing bodies,” says Roper St. Francis Healthcare affiliated primary care doctor Julie Isom.

“I recommend teaching kids about good hygiene from a young age,” she continues. As early as the toddler years, create a regular bedtime routine that includes bathing with soap, teeth brushing and flossing, using the bathroom, wearing laundered clothing and other hygiene tasks such as clipping nails and taking medicine. This exercise helps establish habits that will continue through adolescence and adulthood.

As your child enters puberty, be deliberate in your introduction of additional self-care protocols. Around age 10 or 11, kids should begin cleansing their faces daily, showering more frequently and applying deodorant or antiperspirant. Girls should also begin learning about proper feminine hygiene.

“These aren’t topics for discussion at the family dinner table or in a public setting,” Dr. Isom says. Instead, choose a private moment, like the car ride home, to casually raise the subject of good hygiene. “Never make your child feel ashamed about things you’re noticing, such as body odor.” Be sure to emphasize that good hygiene is essential to staying healthy and preventing illness, especially in the midst of a pandemic.

Dr. Isom advises looking for ways to make this new phase exciting. Take your tween shopping and let them choose toiletries that fit their needs and preferences. And be sure to practice what you preach, since parents influence their children’s habits with their own regular routines.

Deodorant Dos & Don’ts

Wearing antiperspirant or deodorant is one of the first steps in a maturing child’s hygiene routine. When your tween begins developing body odor:

DO include your child in the deodorant shopping experience. This gives them a stake in their own health and hygiene.

DON’T t wait too long before introducing your child to deodorant. Puberty can begin as young as age eight, so good hygiene habits should start early.

DO test new products on your child’s wrist before applying to the underarms to be sure they don’t trigger allergic reactions such as redness, bumps or itchiness.

DON’T assume natural deodorant will work immediately. Natural deodorants help sweat glands put off less odor, but that adjustment usually takes time.

DO buy an antiperspirant if you want to address sweating, since deodorant simply masks underarm odors.

Photograph by (girl) CGN089

New Research: Playing Catch-Up

Routine pediatric vaccinations still lag behind their pre-pandemic rates

Vaccines are a cornerstone of preventing childhood diseases such as measles, whooping cough and human papillomavirus. But COVID-19 has significantly weakened the number of routine shots being administered. Though pediatric vaccination status rebounded slightly from the earliest days of the pandemic, doses are still low, reports the Centers for Disease Control. Between June and September 2020, measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine rates decreased by 11 percent among children two to eight, compared to data from the same period in 2018 and 2019. The decline in HPV vaccines among ages 13 to 17 dropped 28 percent. The CDC is encouraging parents to keep their children up-to-date on all recommended vaccinations. This summer, the agency also approved giving routine immunizations at the same time as the COVID-19 vaccine.

Photograph by oneinchpunch