Puberty comes with all sorts of changes to your child’s body, and sooner or later, that probably includes some new odors.

If you and your child are thinking about trying a deodorant or antiperspirant, there are a dizzying array of products to choose from. To add to the confusion, some parents worry about when is too early to start, and if there are any health risks.

Dr. Todd Palker, a Fairfield County based pediatrician, shares answers.

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I’ve started to notice that my child has underarm odor. When are they old enough to start wearing deodorant?

There’s no specific age for a child to start wearing deodorant or antiperspirant. Many start in their teens. Some start as soon as puberty starts to cause body odor, which can be as early 8 or 9 years old for some children. Then again, some never use it, even as adults.

It’s up to you and your child when, or if, they want to start using one of these products.

Are deodorants and antiperspirants safe for kids?

Yes. Deodorants and antiperspirants are safe for most kids – and for that matter, adults – to use.

A lot of parents are worried about rumors that these products might seal in harmful toxins: They don’t. (Your body removes toxins when you pee and poop, not through sweat.) You may have heard some false claims linking certain ingredients to breast cancer, but research shows that those claims aren’t true.

As an extra precaution, I always tell parents to start their younger kids with deodorant only (natural is great—see below*) because excessive sweating isn’t common until later. As kids get older and the sweating starts to bother them, then switching to an antiperspirant combo is completely fine.

> Related: 24 Questions for Your Teen to Ask Their Doctor

Woman applying deodorant

So which product should I choose for my child?

One piece of advice: If your child is younger, don’t use an aerosol spray. They can be hard to use correctly, and you don’t want your child to accidentally inhale it. Go with a stick instead.

Other than that, it’s really a matter of personal preference.

  • Deodorants cover up odor, while antiperspirants block sweat.
  • Many brands make products designed for younger wearers, but the difference is mostly just in the packaging.
  • *Some deodorants and antiperspirants are labeled “natural,” to indicate that they don’t use artificial ingredients like parabens or aluminum. That label isn’t regulated by the FDA, so check the ingredient list if it’s important to you.

Bottom line?

Whatever product you choose, the most important thing to watch is how your child’s skin reacts to it.

If it bothers your child’s skin, or your child doesn’t like the fragrance, try a different product. If it’s helping and feels good on their skin, go with that.