Set­ting up a healthy hy­giene rou­tine



Chil­dren seem to think they can go through life with­out wash­ing any­thing. That’s an un­der­stand­able con­cept for a 5-year-old, but when you have to ask your teen if they show­ered, it gets hairy.

Thanks to pu­berty, a teen’s body re­leases so many hor­mones, which wreak havoc ev­ery­where. Body odor is caused by these hor­mones, as is ex­ces­sive oil on both the scalp and face, caus­ing greasy hair and acne. The se­ba­ceous glands are to blame for this phe­nom­e­non be­cause they are over-ac­tive dur­ing pu­berty. The bac­te­ria on the skin at­tach to these oils and pro­duce an odor. Girls can start pu­berty as early as 8 years old un­til ma­tu­rity around 14. Boys will start later, the ear­li­est around 9 years old, and can ma­ture much later. So, start­ing a good reg­i­men at a young age may thwart any clean­li­ness chal­lenges go­ing for­ward for both par­ents and teens.

Dr. Stephanie Strozuk of Evolved Ado­les­cent and Young Adult Medicine in Ridge­wood of­fers this in­sight.

“When tweens and teens are go­ing through pu­ber­tal changes their hy­giene re­quire­ments change dra­mat­i­cally,” she says. “Par­ents may as­sume that their teens re­al­ize this, but we, as par­ents, def­i­nitely need to guide them.”

Show­er­ing daily is a must. Be sure to have mild soaps and sham­poos on hand that are not laden with hor­mone dis­rupt­ing chem­i­cals like parabens and ph­tha­lates.

The chal­lenges brought on by pu­berty and over­ac­tive glands are not a teen’s fault, but start­ing good habits young will pre­vent greasy hair, smelly armpits and more.

Com­mon sense items in­clude hand wash­ing as a preschooler, be­fore ev­ery meal, af­ter ev­ery trip to the bath­room, in the hospi­tal and af­ter touch­ing an­i­mals. Car­ry­ing around hand san­i­tizer is a good idea, but hand wash­ing should be­come part of the norm af­ter all of these ac­tiv­i­ties.

It may seem ob­vi­ous that hair wash­ing and show­er­ing are an ev­ery­day oc­cur­rence, but kids and teens don’t nec­es­sar­ily see it that way. Don’t take for granted that it will hap­pen; in­sist that it does. Greasy hair isn’t just un­pleas­ant, it’s a hot­bed for dirt and in­fec­tion that can be trans­ferred all over the body. Keep­ing hair clean and wash­ing reg­u­larly is para­mount to keep­ing the rest of the body clean. Wash­ing the face with a good, mild cleanser two times a day is a must.

Girls face a chal­lenge once men­stru­a­tion hits be­cause vagi­nal hy­giene be­comes es­sen­tial, es­pe­cially dur­ing that time of the month. How­ever, vagi­nal hy­giene does not have to be ex­ces­sive. The vagina in­ter­nally cleans it­self, but a mild hy­giene wash dur­ing a daily shower or bath rou­tine is help­ful to keep away yeast in­fec­tions.

Teens of­ten avoid the use of de­odor­ant or an­tiper­spi­rant. In­tro­duc­ing the use of these prod­ucts at a younger age makes it part of the daily rou­tine. Hy­giene is about habits, both good and bad.

Chang­ing clothes is an­other el­e­ment that will keep the smells away, but it isn’t some­thing a kid al­ways does. Young chil­dren get into the habit of wear­ing the same stuff be­cause it’s com­fort­able or they have an at­tach­ment to the ar­ti­cle of cloth­ing. How­ever, when the hor­mones have a say in the wardrobe, you just can’t put on the same shirt and socks four days in a row and not have an im­pact. Par­ents need to make sure young teens know the basics of laun­dry and pro­vide clean clothes to set an ex­am­ple.

There can be no waf­fling when it comes to hy­giene be­cause it is dam­ag­ing from a phys­i­cal per­spec­tive, but men­tally as well. Aside from fac­ing the health con­se­quences of in­fec­tions and ill­ness, chil­dren with hy­giene poor enough that is no­ticed by oth­ers can suf­fer self-es­teem and so­cial con­se­quences.

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