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October 3, 2008 10:13 AM   Subscribe

My 6 yr old son has mature male body odor. Has anyone encountered this? I'm not exactly worried, but, I just wonder if it's normative to be this smelly at such an early age.

- I (Mom) don't have strong BO, even after working out.
- His Dad, however, has very strong BO- the kind that is still there even after a shower.
-My son bathes regularly, but not daily.
-My son is healthy.
-My son is starting to smell a lot like his Dad.
- Yes, I will ask his ped.

Your thoughts?
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Get dad some scented soap, and wash the boy everyday.
posted by ydnagaj at 10:21 AM on October 3, 2008

Bathe everyday, and maybe think about deodorant. Ask the dr before you go that route. Also, what about a change in diet, like less red meat?
posted by mitzyjalapeno at 10:30 AM on October 3, 2008

Does your son show any other signs of precocious puberty? Underarm/pubic hair growth, enlarged genitals, etc? If so, his pediatrician may refer you to an endocrinologist.
posted by twoporedomain at 10:36 AM on October 3, 2008

This message board suggests it's a relatively common parental concern, and BO at early ages is typically not cause for worry. They say deodorant is fine, but antiperspirants should be avoided. And yeah, up the bathing to daily.
posted by Stewriffic at 10:38 AM on October 3, 2008

The exact same thing happened with my son, who's now seven. After someone else's AskMe thread (which I can't find on a quick search, but I know it's there), my wife and I switched to only give him hormone-free dairy products (well, primarily milk and yogurt, since he doesn't eat that much cheese anyway).

It made a huge difference. He still has worse BO than most kids his age, so we have him use a little deodorant (his doctor said it should be OK for him) and have him shower a little more often than most kids his age. But the difference was noticeable after only a week or two after switching.
posted by cerebus19 at 10:41 AM on October 3, 2008

My daughter had the same thing at the same age...it was early puberty. We, too, went to hormone-free everything...to no effect. It was difficult for her to go through puberty at such a young age...I learned not to mention it or anything relating to it...to friends, her, anyone. She's an adult now and fine...however early puberty does reduce the growth time of children so she is probably a couple of inches shorter than she would otherwise have been. I've never heard a clearcut reason for this...but hormones could be the culprit, and clearly some kids are more susceptible to this...her sister didn't have the same experience, but her puberty onset was still early...age 9. I would pursue the hormone-free option just in case it works and definitely an endocrinologist. Best!
posted by mumstheword at 11:06 AM on October 3, 2008

mumstheword writes "I've never heard a clearcut reason for this."

Artificially lengthened photoperiods and a shift toward blue spectrum lighting (CFL lighting and computer monitors/televisions) can have an impact on development. Studies on our fellow mammals have established that much. It's not terribly surprising, after all we've been using natural light cycles for the vast majority of our existence as a species. Artifical light is, in some sense, a drug.
posted by mullingitover at 2:30 PM on October 3, 2008 [3 favorites]

Something harmless you can try at minimal cost: when he bathes, have him scrub out his pits and his butt with anti-dandruff shampoo (the kind with zinc pyrithione as the active ingredient) and a washcloth.

Soap is no good for getting rid of persistent BO. It's usually fairly alkaline, and regular use promotes yeast growth in damp skin folds. The main effect of soap on BO is just to mask it with a stronger scent.

Shampoo, on the other hand, usually has a better pH balance, and anti-dandruff shampoo suppresses a lot of the organisms responsible for turning perspiration into funk.
posted by flabdablet at 5:32 PM on October 3, 2008

Also wash his clothes well - and although I am sure you are being careful about this - please don't make a big deal about this with him. Just make it seem like it's all normal day to day ordinary soap and water and brushing your teeth after meals stuff.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 6:06 PM on October 3, 2008

Thanks for all of the comments.

Lesser Shrew: We are in agreement- I have not mentioned it to my son at all. The last thing I want to do is make him self-conscious.

I have a question that follows from this thread- has anyone run across scientific evidence that hormone-containing foods can contribute to early puberty, symptoms of early puberty, and endocrine problems?
posted by mistsandrain at 8:08 PM on October 3, 2008

Can't speak to the hormone question - just popping back in to point out that anybody who tends toward smelliness is much better served by cotton clothing than synthetics. There's a world of difference between the smell of a two day old cotton T shirt and a cotton/polyester blend. Perspiration plus polyester = phoo.
posted by flabdablet at 10:28 PM on October 3, 2008

Seconding cotton garments. Sometimes even washing synthetics doesn't get odor out. Then, you don't really notice that the odor's stayed in the fabric until it gets worn and warmed up again - leading to the false perception that the person wearing it smells bad instantly.
posted by amtho at 10:41 PM on October 3, 2008

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