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Combating Poor Hygiene in Teens

By: Jo Johnson - Updated: 6 Dec 2017 | comments*Discuss
Hormones; Puberty; Shaving; Bathing;

During puberty the body goes through some very important changes increasing the need for a regular regime for maintaining personal hygiene. Many teenagers and indeed parents find these changes embarrassing to discuss and many teenagers can be left in the dark about what they need to do and the products available to them.

Body Odour

Puberty causes the body to produce greater quantities of oils and sweat that can clog up the pores leading to spots acne or sores. This coupled with increased activity can lead to foul smelling and offensive body odour. This subject should be discussed in an informal and gentle manner so as not to make a big issue of it. Teenagers should be able to have free and private access to the bath or shower and by allowing them to choose their own cleansing products, and be encouraged to bathe regularly.

Boys should be told about the occurrence of nocturnal ejaculation and the need for a morning shower, whilst girls should be educated on their menstrual cycle and how this can add to odours.

Parents should discuss the variety of anti-perspirant deodorants available and explain why they are needed; many teenagers believe they can simply spray deodorant as an alternative to washing. Parents or carers must explain that temporarily masking odours does not stop the problem.

Hair Removal

Many teenagers class hair removal as becoming an adult. Again they should be educated on why it is done and the products available. They should be taught the correct technique as many of the goods can cause very serious injuries if they are not used correctly.

Oral Hygiene

Being busy with school, establishing a social life and a general increase in the consumption of junk food can all have a detrimental effect on the teeth. Good oral hygiene practices should be part of every life from the moment the child grows their first tooth. It should be a twice daily activity that should become second nature. If you feel your teenager is neglecting their teeth, bring the subject up for discussion. Be sure to mention the consequences of bad breath and how rotten teeth can jeopardise their career options not forgetting how painful dental problems can be. Continue to make their dental appointments for them and encourage attendance.

Menstrual Cycles

Many girls rely on the advice given by their friends, but the mother is the best person for giving accurate information. Always pick a time that ensures privacy and dignity for your daughter and allow plenty of opportunity for questions. Reassure her that there is nothing to be embarrassed about and that it is a fact of life that affects 50% of the world’s population. Provide information of the various products available and explain the advantages and disadvantages of each one clearly. She must be educated on the correct usage and disposal of the items and be permitted to select her own method of protection. Always be sure to include the importance of hand-washing with this subject.

Every family has their own way of approaching this subject and there is no right or wrong way of doing it as long as both the parent and child are comfortable enough to ask each other questions.

If open discussion is not a comfortable option, there are many leaflets and books that specialise in this field. By leaving one or two next to your child’s bed, they can learn in privacy, and the parent can offer a point for questions at an appropriate time.

Many modern teenagers are leaps and bounds ahead of their parents and maybe practising some of these tasks already. They are usually very aware of the necessity for extra care with hygiene needs as the find their sexuality and attractiveness to the opposite sex.

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My 16 year old niece moved in with us (my family of 5).Her mom passed away (10 months ago) and her dad isn't in the picture.We had been to holidays, social occasions and other get-togethers with my sister-in-law and our niece ever since she was born.My sister-in-law never invited us to her apartment.Upon her passing we had to clean out the apartment and were surprised to find out the overall extremely poor hygiene, hoarding, and unkempt nature of their home. Now we have this teen living with us who wont change her underwear, brush her teeth, or put dirty clothes in the hamper.Even soiled underwear is stashed throughout her room.We have tried asking her to change her underwear and brush her teeth when we are up with her in the morning.I've tried getting her to do her own laundry.I tried explaining that it's unhealthy. I've tried positively announcing who had the most underwear in the clean clothes.Nothing seems to stick and the other kids are starting to pick up on the bad habits.She's in counseling but the counselor has grieving issues to deal with.This problem didn't start when her mom was sick; it's just the way she and her mom always lived.Is there a hygiene boot camp?What can we do?
MrsK - 9-May-17 @ 3:39 AM
My step daughter is 14 and just started high school. When she comes for the weekend her hair is greasy, her clothes are dirty and she has body odor. She does not dress for the weather. She will go the entire weekend without showering, brushing her hair or teeth. And sometimes sleeps on her clothes and will wear the same clothes she came in. If asked to shower she will look at you with an blank stare. She acts as though I am being cruel by asking her to be clean. My husband has given up as her mother whom she spends the majority of her time with in not teaching her to be clean and lives in a dirty environment. It is very embarrassing. And I feel stuck .
Mare - 22-Oct-16 @ 9:52 PM
My step daughter keeps turning up of a weekend with really greasy hair, stinking, clothes inappropriate for weather or too small.She's 13 & also still getting lice!! We have to keep telling her but nothing is working.We buy her her own toiletries etc... I can't help but think that her mother needs educating in hygiene as apparently it was never her strong point when my partner was with her!
Aria75 - 9-Jul-16 @ 8:43 PM
Boys can be sadly unaware of body odour, at least when they’re about 12 or 13. Parents need to remind them gently and buy them their own, unscented deodorant and ensure they get into the routine of using it daily. As many teenagers develop spots, regular face washing and rinsing with soap and water is a necessity, too.
Chris - 4-Oct-12 @ 12:06 PM
My daughter is 10 yrs. and she does not like to engage in a regular hygiene program that we have talked to her about. What is the best way to tell her or discuss the importance of it. She will lie about brushing her teeth, about washing her face, showers, and she just started her period and says that she just washed down there, only to find out from mommy that it is not true. Help from a concerned dad.
daga - 17-Jun-12 @ 1:51 AM
There was a boy in our scouts who smelt a bit of BO. We didn't want to say anything so one of the scout leaders did a letter home in a humourous way about growing up and deodorant. She also did a general talk to us all. It seemed to sink in as he smelled quite nice after that. Not being direct is the best approach - that's what me and my friends think anyhow.
SmellsBad - 21-May-12 @ 6:34 PM
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