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Dealing With Embarrassing Body Changes

What teen guys should know about body odor, sweat, acne, and other body changes.
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WebMD Feature

On the way to manhood, your body is going to do a lot of things that you really, really wish it wouldn’t. Pimples will pop up everywhere, and so will hair. You’ll drip sweat and you will stink. You’ll get erections when you least expect – or want – them.

Sound bad? Sure. But remember these four things:

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  1. Every boy goes through this (though not in exactly the same way or on the same schedule).
  2. It is normal (no matter how hard that is to believe).
  3. None of it will go on forever (even though it might seem to).
  4. There are plenty of things you can do to make the experience a bit easier.

Body Odor and Sweat

Believe it or not, some boys just starting puberty actually want to smell bad.

“They are upset that they don’t have secretions that stink. It’s a sign of manhood,” says pediatrician Lawrence D’Angelo, MD, MPH, chief of adolescent and young adult medicine at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

They won’t have to wait long. Those secretions – from glands in your armpits – start early on in puberty.

Once they do, even those once eager for B.O. will likely want to grab an antiperspirant and/or deodorant. (The first stops sweat, the second blocks the smell – they are often combined).

 Just don’t overdo it, says Cleveland Clinic dermatologist Jennifer Lucas. Using an antiperspirant too often can cause a rash. If it does, switch to a deodorant for a few days.

For the unfortunate few, no over-the-counter antiperspirant will stop the flow of sweat. If that describes you, don’t worry. There are stronger antiperspirants that only your doctor can prescribe. And, there is Botox. Usually used for a condition called hyperhydrosis (in which a person sweats a lot more than normal), injections of Botox by a doctor can stop sweating for up to six months at a time.

Acne

The only way to avoid acne, Lucas says, is to fast forward past the teenage years. Since that is not going to happen, it’s best to learn how to deal with it before it becomes a real problem.

Not all boys get that message. “When it’s mild, they tend to ignore it,” Lucas says. “But if it gets severe, it can cause scarring. And scars will be permanent.”

Lucas recommends getting an over-the-counter benzoyl peroxide-based wash and using it once or twice a day. That will help keep your pores from getting clogged, which causes acne. Cleaning up after sweating is especially important, so wash yourself and any equipment you wear after game time.

Even if you are really careful, your acne might still go beyond mild and into severe territory. “It’s not because they are not taking care of it,” Lucas says. “It’s just bad luck.”

If that happens to you, don’t panic. Make an appointment with a dermatologist. They have lots of options to help keep your pimples under control.

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