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Health & Parenting

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Teen Hygiene Tips

As a parent, it’s your job to help your kids and explain the teen hygiene basics. But where do you start?

Good Teen Hygiene continued...

Using deodorant or antiperspirant. Your kid has always had plenty of working sweat glands. But when puberty hits, the glands become more active and the chemical composition of the sweat changes, causing it to smell stronger. When you or your kid begin to notice it, using deodorant or an antiperspirant should become part of their daily teen hygiene.

Keep in mind that many self-conscious teens have a skewed perception of how much they're sweating. You may want to reassure them. "I see a lot of teens who are convinced that they're sweating a lot more than all their friends, even though they're perfectly normal," says Altmann.

Changing clothes. Before puberty, your kid might have gotten away with wearing the same shirt -- or even the same underwear and same socks -- day after day without anyone noticing. After puberty, that won't fly. Get your teen to understand that along with showering, wearing clean clothes each day is an important part of teen hygiene. Point out that cotton clothes may absorb sweat better than other materials.

Preventing acne. Altmann says that at around age 10, it makes sense for your teen to start washing his or her face twice a day. "Plenty of kids don't have any acne problems at that age, but getting in the habit early is smart," Altmann says. Make sure your teen understands not to wash too vigorously, even if her skin is oily. Trying to scrub off the oil will just leave the skin cracked and irritated.

Shaving and hair removal. When you notice hair on your son's upper lip or on your daughter's legs, you can offer a brief course on razor use. Whether or not he or she wants to shave yet, at least you've provided the information. Girls may also be interested in hair removal products. You can go over the options. Your daughter may also need some reassurance; stray facial hairs that loom large when she's an inch away from the mirror may not be visible to anyone else.

Maintaining good oral health. Teens can get pretty lax about their oral hygiene. But brushing and flossing are crucial, especially if they're drinking coffee and sugary, acidic sodas and sports drinks. It's not only about tooth decay. Bad oral hygiene leads to bad breath -- and that's something that no teen wants, Altmann tells WebMD.

Understanding the body. If you're talking about good teen hygiene, that also means talking about puberty. Girls need to know about breast development and menstruation. Boys need to know about erections and wet dreams. Don't tiptoe around these subjects. If they don't get the info from you, they'll get some distorted version of it from their peers. You may find that giving your kids a good book on the subject -- or pointing them to reputable health web sites -- may help the conversation.

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