Personal Hygiene in Teenagers

by Karen Hellesvig-Gaskell

    Personal hygiene is important for all children but it becomes especially serious business after puberty. Failing to practice good head to toe hygiene as a teenager can be unpleasantly obvious to those in close proximity. High school can be tough enough without being singled out as "stinky" or "scruffy." Good hygiene practices during the teen years can preserve, improve and prevent your teen's self-esteem from taking a nose dive.

    Oily skin and hair often surface when puberty sets in. Skin and hair are filled with miniscule holes or pores which contain oil glands that produce sebum. Sebum is oil that helps keep hair and skin moisturized. During puberty, the oil glands can go into overdrive. The vast majority of teens -- about 8 in 10 -- have varying degrees of acne, reports KidsHealth. Washing your face with warm water and a mild cleanser or soap at least once a day can help stop acne-producing oil from accumulating on your face. Shampooing your hair daily or every other day can help keep oil to a minimum. A shampoo specially formulated for oily hair types may be your best bet.

    Teens can sweat for a number of reasons, like when they're physically active, anxious, nervous or hot. Sweat can produce a foul smell. Using a regular deodorant or antiperspirant deodorant can help prevent underarm odor that can escalate as the day goes on. Deodorants mask the odor of sweat while antiperspirants stop perspiration in its tracks. A daily bath or shower with a mild soap is necessary during the teen years to help wash off sweat and bacteria that leads to body odor. Your teen should pay special attention to the genitals and underarms when cleansing his body.

    When girls begin menstruating, they may worry about vaginal odor. Fortunately the vagina is constructed to naturally flush out bacteria. Scented tampons and feminine sprays are not only unnecessary, they may cause allergic reactions and possible infection if they contain a large amount of perfume, points out KidsHealth. Scent-free feminine wipes or washing the vaginal area with a wash cloth each time a teen girl changes her pad or tampon may help ease concerns about odor during menstruation. More times than not, she is the only one who is able to detect any menstrual-related odor.

    Teens often neglect their teeth, which can lead to tooth decay and periodontal disease such as gingivitis. Brushing and flossing are critical to good oral hygiene especially when drinking sugary beverages, acidic sodas and sports drinks. Poor oral hygiene can also cause bad breath -- something no teen wants to be known for. Brushing teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste is recommended along with professionally-applied fluoride treatments when a teen is especially cavity prone, advises the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry.

    Many teens stay up late and get up early. Burning the candle at both ends can make a teen more likely to have acne flare-ups and other skin problems, says the National Sleep Foundation. Lack of sufficient sleep can also lead to overeating and eating the wrong kinds of foods like cookies and French fries that can add unwanted pounds. Most teens need a little over 9 hours sleep, according to the National Sleep Foundation. Some teens can get by on 8 1/2 hours.

    About the Author

    Karen Hellesvig-Gaskell is a broadcast journalist who began writing professionally in 1980. Her writing focuses on parenting and health, and has appeared in “Spirituality & Health Magazine" and “Essential Wellness.” Hellesvig-Gaskell has worked with autistic children at the Fraser School in Minneapolis and as a child care assistant for toddlers and preschoolers at the International School of Minnesota, Eden Prairie.

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