|Grooming & Hygiene
Remember when you were a kid — you tried all kinds of ways to avoid taking a bath? Well, things have been changing for you and you probably feel like showering or bathing more often now. Maybe you're finally realizing that baths aren't so bad anymore. Or perhaps you're realizing that your body changes require some new hygiene habits. Either way, the changes you're experiencing at this time may make you feel like you look different and perhaps smell different than you did when you were a kid. Don't worry, it just means you're becoming an adult.
Sweating doesn't have to cause body odor
You might find that you're sweating more now, even when you're not exercising or in hot weather. You've always had the sweat glands that are producing more sweat. But during puberty, the sweat glands become much more active than when you were a kid.
Sweating is a normal, healthy and necessary process. You've got all these systems working in your body - your heart is beating, your stomach is digesting, your brain is thinking, your muscles are helping you move. All these bodily processes are creating heat. Your body temperature would reach a dangerous level and you would eventually die if your body couldn't get rid of all the heat it's producing. That's where sweating comes in.
Sweating helps your body get rid of the excess heat it is creating. It also helps you stay a safe temperature on a hot day. Even when you don't always notice sweat on your skin, you are still sweating and giving off heat.
You have sweat glands all over your body, but there are more of them in your armpits, feet, and groin. You may have already noticed more sweat and new smells from these areas of your body. These are normal and easy to deal with safely. First it helps to understand what causes the smell we typically think of as body odor.
It might surprise you to know this, but it's not actually sweat that causes odor. Body odor is caused by the reaction of your sweat with the bacteria that is already on your skin. The sweat that your body produces while you're exercising is also different from the sweat it produces if you're nervous or anxious.
So even if you don't notice any odor after exercising, you might notice an odor after a stressful situation. Armpit sweat has extra substances in it that tend to react more strongly with the bacteria on your skin causing a stronger odor. For example, if you stand up to speak in front of your class, that could cause the kind of sweating that is more likely to cause body odor.
Everyone has body odor at some point in her life, but most people have found ways to keep it in check so that no one else notices. The best way to keep feeling and smelling fresh is to take a bath or shower every day to wash away the bacteria and dirt on your skin. Use a soap that isn't too harsh and plenty of warm water. If you have dry skin, hotter water may aggravate the dryness.
You should wear a fresh pair of socks and underwear every day. Wearing clothes made of natural or "breathable" fabrics (like cotton) will help keep you feeling drier and more comfortable if you sweat a lot. If you like to wear sweaters or other heavier clothes, wearing cotton T-shirt underneath them may help you feel less sweaty too. It may sound weird to wear another layer to sweat less, but that in-between layer helps to absorb the moisture from your skin and allows it to evaporate better. It can also help protect your favorite clothes.
Since underarm odor is so common, many people use a deodorant or antiperspirant. Antiperspirants stop or reduce underarm sweating. Deodorants don't prevent sweating, but rather cover up odor in your armpit. There are plenty of products available that you may try.
orried about bad breath?
Everyone has less than fresh breath at some point in life. Bad breath (or halitosis) can be caused in several ways, so how you deal with it can depend on what is causing it.
Bacteria in your mouth can cause bad breath. Since your mouth is a warm, wet place, it makes an ideal breeding ground for bacteria. The best way to keep the odor-causing bacteria in your mouth to a minimum is to brush your teeth carefully at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste. Use a soft-bristle brush and gently brush the surface of each tooth, including the hard to reach places like the back of your mouth.
You can also use your toothbrush to brush the topside of your tongue. There are many, many tiny grooves and bumps on your tongue where bacteria and small particles of food love to hide. Brushing your tongue helps contribute to a healthier mouth too. At first, this may feel funny and might cause you to gag. This is normal so try to relax your mouth and don't push the brush back so far.
In addition to brushing, it's also important that you floss your teeth at least once a day. You may not realize it until you try it, but there are probably a lot of food particles stuck between your teeth that brushing alone won't get out. Flossing also helps to remove plaque buildup along your gum line and prevent cavities.
If you wear braces, food particles may tend to get stuck in them and cause bad breath. Be sure to brush and floss carefully and ask your dentist if there are any special steps you should take to clean your teeth while you're wearing braces. In the long run, braces will help to improve your appearance and dental health, so a little extra attention to your teeth and gums now will be worth it.
More on bad breath:
Bad breath can also be caused by the foods you eat. Everyone knows that garlic, onions, and other things that add spice to foods can wreak havoc when it comes to your breath. The oils and smells from these foods can be pretty strong for a while after you've eaten them, so just pack some sugar-free gum or mints with you. If you and your friends are all eating garlic bread, maybe no one will notice your garlic breath!
If you smoke, you're going to have stinky breath. There's no way around that. In addition to being generally very bad for your body in other ways, smoking can stain your teeth and cause you to have chronic bad breath.
Occasionally, bad breath can be caused by a more serious problem such as an infection in your mouth or sinuses or tooth decay (cavities). Some medicines may cause your mouth to be dry all the time and cause bad breath.
In general, after you've brushed and flossed regularly, your breath is probably fine. Advertisers for gum, mouthwashes, and mints would like us to believe that their products are necessary for a great social life. Of course we can all use a breath mint once in a while, but most of us do just fine without them most of the time. If you're still concerned about your breath, privately ask a close friend or family member if they'll give you an honest opinion.