by Marguerite Crump, author of No B.O.! The Head-to-Toe Book of Hygiene for Preteens
Whew! Gotta love the summertime, but the heat of summer brings about some serious hygiene issues that we—and the tweens and teens in our lives—just don’t have to deal with in the cooler months. On top of the warmer weather, our kids are usually on a less-stringent schedule, and they might be away from home so they don’t have their own hygiene items with them.
Here are some tips to share with kids to keep them feeling (and smelling) great.
Most of us wash our hair much more frequently in the summer than we do in winter. Remember that hair needs natural oils to look shiny. If you are stripping out those oils frequently, use hair conditioners to put some back. Wear a hat to protect your hair as well as your face. Make sure you rinse swimming pool water out of your hair quickly after being in the water. The chlorine is a chemical salt and it can react with your hair, especially if it’s been colored.
You may get tired of hearing it, but sunscreen is your skin’s best friend. Look at leathery older adults to see the damage the sun can do. A tan looks great at the time, but the thought of having chunks of cancerous skin removed from your face in the future should make you think twice. Hot weather often sends us into the showers more frequently than in the wintertime. Just make sure you are reapplying sunscreen after bathing and using moisturizers if your skin seems dry.
When you hit puberty, your apocrine sweat glands (the stink-producing ones) kick into high gear. That’s why younger kids don’t get quite the stink factor that older kids and adults do. (Have you ever smelled a fifth-grade classroom compared to a first-grade one?) These lovely glands reside in your armpits and groin area and they produce a thicker, odiferous sweat compared to, say, sweat glands in your hands. Hot weather just makes them work harder to cool you, so keep wet wipes around to clear out the old sweat and hit your clean ʼpits with a fresh coat of antiperspirant. This should also drive home the necessity of changing your underwear daily in the summer! (Sorry, some people just need to be told that!)
Ditto with hot weather creating more problems with foul-smelling feet. If you were captive in a hot, sweaty shoe, you’d smell, too—it’s a bacteria-laden breeding ground! Your feet need to breathe in sandals or flip-flops whenever you can wear them. Wash your sneakers regularly and limit wearing leather shoes. If you have a serious sweaty-feet problem, you can spray antiperspirant on them to help keep them drier. Keep in mind that the moist environment of swimming pools and locker room showers are also places you can pick up fungal infections such as athlete’s foot or toenail fungus. Airing those puppies out can help keep your feet sweet and fungus free.
Parents and teachers, what hygiene tips do you share with kids? Do you have any hygiene horror stories to share? Leave a comment below!
Marguerite Crump, M.A., M.Ed., has her master’s degrees in journalism and physical education. She teaches sixth-grade students in the New Bloomfield R-III School District in New Bloomfield, Missouri, and gives presentations in Missouri public schools on the topic of hygiene.
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