DEAR HARRIETTE: My daughter, who is only 8 years old, has begun to have serious underarm odor. She is athletic, which may account for this. But I was shocked to discover that she smelled like an adult after a long day without deodorant. I am afraid that she is heading toward puberty more quickly than I can manage, or that something else may be wrong with her. How should I deal with this? And if it continues, is it safe to have her wear deodorant? -- Got a Whiff, Denver
DEAR GOT A WHIFF: Many children's bodies begin to develop as early as 8 years old. I know that's not what you want to hear, but it is increasingly true. In order to determine where your daughter fits in her own personal development, you must visit her pediatrician. Explain the underarm odor as well as any other changes that are noticeable in her body or her behavior. The doctor will conduct a thorough examination and likely be able to tell you if puberty is near.
You should also consult the doctor about how to remedy the odor. Of course, you should teach your daughter proper hygiene. At that age, many parents oversee their children's bathing. You can teach her how to scrub her armpits with soap to get them as clean as possible. Her doctor may recommend a natural deodorant. What you want to avoid is an antiperspirant.