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.
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.
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.
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.
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.