Hygiene for youth

When your child becomes a youth, their body will change. With these physical changes comes new body odors, possible body hair, and a bigger focus on physical appearance. While we often think of being healthy as including healthy eating and staying active, healthy personal hygiene is also an important part of development.

Your youth may be more concerned with body care, face care, hair care, and nail care. They will likely look to you for guidance and advice.

Body Care

Why use soap or body wash? When to use it?

It is used to remove dirt and oil from skin, reducing the number of bacteria that can lead to odour. It is used during a shower or bath daily or after intense physical activity.

Why use deodorant? When to use it?

Sweat glands under the arms become active during puberty and produce sweat. This can cause unpleasant odours when it comes in contact with bacteria on the skin. Deodorant is used to cover up this smell. People can use it when they notice body odour. It is used every day after a shower or bath or when needed.

Why use antiperspirant?

Antiperspirant is used to reduce sweat. Antiperspirant can be used to reduce underarm wetness and odour.

What does clothing have to do with hygiene?

Wearing clean clothes is an important part of maintaining good hygiene. We have to change clothes when they are dirty or smelly. Wear clean and dry clothes every day. Also, wear clean underwear and socks every day.

What is good genital care?

It consists of washing of the genitals, which is important for maintaining hygiene. It protects against odour and infections.

The vulva (genital area) must be washed with a mild soap and water. Washing should be done from front to back to avoid spreading bacteria from the anus to vulva. Washing should be done daily or as needed. More frequent washing may be needed during menstruation.

The penis and scrotum (genital area) must be washed with mild soap and water. Clean every day and as needed.

The Canadian Pediatric Society recommends that those with an uncircumcised penis should not force the foreskin back until it is fully retractable. When the foreskin is fully retractable, then you wash away the oily secretions that collect under the foreskin. This will help to prevent the growth of bacteria.

Face Care

What is facial cleanser and soap and why use it?

Facial cleanser and soap are used to clean the face and help get rid of everyday dirt and oil. It is used to keep skin clean and healthy looking. It can be used twice a day or as needed.

What is acne and how do we treat it?

Acne is normal and affects most youth. It happens when the pores of the skin become blocked with dead skin cells, dirt and oil. Bacteria can develop in the pore causing a pimple. Acne treatments can be medicated or non-medicated and are used to clean the skin, prevent pimples and treat existing pimples.

Why treat acne?

Treating acne is important to keep your skin healthy and to stop the acne from becoming severe and causing scarring. Having acne can bring on feelings of low self-esteem. Youth should not let this affect confidence since people don't notice pimples as much as they do.

How is acne kept under control?

  • By washing the face 2 times a day
  • By not popping pimples
  • By not scrubbing the skin too hard
  • By using proper sunscreen for the face and body. Skin is more sensitive to the sun when acne products are used.
Hair Care

What is hair removal and why do some people choose to remove hair?

Hair grows on legs, face and under arms. As youth develop and get older they may choose to keep or remove the hair. Hair removal is a personal choice. There are no health benefits to removing hair; so youth can choose what feels right for them.

Why do we need to wash our hair more?

During puberty, skin starts to produce more oil which can make the hair look and feel greasy. Shampoo is used to clean the hair by removing dirt and oil. Some people wash their hair every day, while others wash it once or twice a week. It depends on our hair. If your youth's hair looks dirty between shampoos, they may need to do it more often.

Nail Care

What is nail care and why do we need to do it?

Nail care is taking care of our fingernails and toenails by trimming them with a nail clipper. It is done to keep them from breaking. Trimmed nails can also keep us from biting or picking at them, which can cause infections. Trim your nails as needed.

Do you have more questions about parenting?

  • Connect with a registered nurse from Health811 for free, secure, and confidential health advice. Service is available 24/7 in English and French, with translation support also offered in other languages. Call 8-1-1 or visit Health811.ontario.ca.
  • Connect with a Community Navigator from 2-1-1 for information about community programs and resources across Eastern Ontario. Helpline service is available 24/7 and in many different languages. Call 2-1-1 or visit 211ontario.ca.
  • Connect with a Public Health Nurse and other parents on the Parenting in Ottawa Facebook page.
  • There are a variety of services to make it easier for your child to grow up healthy in Ottawa.
  • You can update your child's immunization record using either the CANImmunize App or the Immunization Connect Ontario (ICON) Tool
  • If you have received a message from Ottawa Public Health such as a letter or a call regarding immunization, an infectious disease, or infection control lapse, please call 613-580-6744 and listen to the menu options carefully.

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