For teenagers, the ages between twelve and eighteen can be some of the most challenging of their lives. They are looking for a place to fit in. they are also examining themselves to realize who they are inside and out.
To add to that, throw in puberty. It is the defining event of the teenage years. Your body is preparing you for manhood or womanhood. With the already confusing feeling going through their head, this just adds another monkey wrench into the works.
Part of identifying who you are, as a teen, is self-image. Puberty has that changing on a daily basis, but there are ways that you can bring it down to your level and make it your own.
Hygiene is always important but never is it more important than when you are body conscious. Teaching good hygiene habits to teenagers as well as what is going on inside of their bodies can go a long way to not only keeping them smelling like a rose but also improving their outlook on their lives.
In this article, you will learn about what is involved in puberty for girls and for boys. Knowledge is power and that is what teens need. Also, learn how to identify when there is a real problem with their bodies and how they can prevent some things from happening by being prepared. It’s what your parents may or may not have told you but you can pass on to your children.
Why it happens?
When you are born did you know that you have your adult eyes? Yeah, you are born with your eyes being the shape and size that they will stay for your entire life. The rest of your body is evolving and changing even as an infant. Besides being a baby, the one other time in your life when you will grow and change that much, is during puberty.
Puberty is the stage of life that prepares the body for sexual maturation. That is the purpose. Your body is not ready to procreate or carry a child in its adolescent stage. Your next stage of life is adulthood and the body has to be prepared for the next phase of life.
Boys and girls change in ways that all revolve around sexual changes. It can be alarming to parents who have had adolescents who want to know about the opposite sex and now raging hormonal teenagers who can think of nothing else. Rest assured, parents; you survived it and so will they but with your help.
Bodily changes for girls
During puberty, girls will notice changes to their bodies. If you were stick thin before, you might be pleasantly surprised by the curvaceous hips, fuller breasts and wider pelvis. The pelvis is widening to allow for a baby to pass through the birth canal (when the time is right).
Girls also tend to gain weight in the hips. That might not be pleasant especially if you are trying to shed baby fat or fit into those new skinny genes. But, there is a reason.
Bodily changes for boys
For boys, they may notice that the high pitched voice of a few years ago is being replaced by a more baritone timbre. It may make you more liked by the girls. Boys also grow hair in places that they have never had hair before. The next time they take their shirt off they may have a field of curly grass growing. Besides the voice and the hair there are hormonal changes that cause the penis to widen and lengthen to the size it will remain.
There is a special hormone responsible for these changes in both genders: gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH). It releases follicle stimulating hormone and luteinizing hormone (LH). In men this stimulates the release of testosterone to go about its work in the body. In women, it stimulates estrogen and progesterone.
All of these chemicals get to moving and swirling around making changes today that weren’t present yesterday. It can be alarming and scary for a teenager but learning about it beforehand can stem some of that anxiety and even help them welcome the experience.
When it happens?
Puberty happens at different times for boys and girls. For girls it usually occurs earlier between the ages of eight and fifteen. For boys, it is usually between the ages of ten and fifteen. Depending on your family history you may have signs earlier or later along the scale. Each person is different so don’t compare yourself to other friends. If they have beaten you to the punch, look forward to your day with anticipation.
Teenage Hygiene Basics for Boys
The hair for boys is like their crowning glory. The style defines your identity. When puberty hits, the oil glands begin secreting lots more oil than you are used to. This will make your hair look like you haven’t washed it in days even if you just washed it that morning.
The excess oil is part of the process but you can counteract it. You might need to change your shampoo. Choose one that will remove excess oil instead a formula for normal or dry hair. This will strip extra oil. A conditioner will ensure that the hair follicle is not damaged and maintains the minimum of moisture needed.
The type of hair is important also. African-American males tend to have drier hair. The increase in oil may actually work well for their hair follicles. With extra oil present there will be no need to apply more oil to the hair unless you notice breakage or other damage.
Let’s start with the sweat glands. You will sweat more. Perspiration is the normal way that your body releases water as part of a cooling mechanism. The sweat hits your skin and evaporates in effect cooling the body off. You are grateful for this after a hard game of basketball.
Unfortunately, the water (filled with electrolytes and waste products) can mingle with the dirt on the skin and create an unpleasant odor. This is what kids affectionately refer to as “B.O.” It may be a pheromone for wild animals but it is just unpleasant when you are around the opposite sex.
Combat that odor by keeping your skin clean and using deodorant or antiperspirant. If you know you are going to sweat, using deodorant will help you to smell better in those hairy places that trap odor like under the armpits. All teens do not necessarily need to use deodorant. If you don’t sweat much, you may not have an odor. Don’t use it until you need to.
On the other hand, if you are out on a date or doing a presentation, nervousness can trigger the sweat glands to release sweat. In this case you will want antiperspirant to prevent sweating in these situations.
It is the bane of all teenagers. When sweat glands get clogged, they trap dust, dirt and oils. This can lead to blackheads or whiteheads erupting on the surface of the skin. They occur on the back and upper torso but most notably the face.
Top get rid of them, don’t pick them. This will only leave scars on the skin. Use cleansers to remove excess oil. If you have too much oil in your hair it can seep into your face and lead to more acne. Use a cleanser to open the pores. An astringent can remove any excess dirt and dry up pimples. A moisturizer doesn’t clog the pores but returns just enough moisture to the face that is needed.
More severe cases like actinic keratosis are best handled by a dermatologist who can give you specific products to stop the breakouts and the pain. One crucial point is following a daily regimen and adhering to doctor’s orders.
To reduce your incidence of whiteheads and blackheads, keep your face clear of chemicals. If you use hair spray or gel, be careful not to get it on your face. If you do, wash it immediately so residue won’t clog your pores.
Here is where most of the changes are taking place. Hair grows on the genitals, under the arms and on the chest. Hair can be a breeding ground for bacteria and other infections.
Part of staying clean is getting clean each day. Moisture can trap bacteria so be sure to dry off thoroughly after a shower or a bath. Wear cotton underclothing (clean ones each day) to wick away moisture and allow as much air to circulate around the area as possible.
If you are an uncircumcised male, the foreskin needs to be retracted back to ensure proper cleaning around the penis. At night during puberty, young men can get an erection from thinking about sexual things or dreams. This can lead to a small amount of ejaculate leaving the penis. It creates a wet spot (hence the name “wet dreams”). Keeping clean in this area is important.
Teenage Hygiene Basics for Girls
For a girl, hair is important as it is for boys. Women style their hair everyday which can lead to dryness. Curling irons and styling gels can damage the hair. Use the least amount of product possible to keep your hair managed.
Wash your hair each day or every other day depending on the amount of oil you are secreting. For African-American girls, heat styling can further dry your hair. Use shampoos that restore moisture to your dry follicles and additional moisture to keep the hair conditioned and healthy.
Taking a few simple precautions to keep your hair healthy will bring it into compliance. In short, your hair is more likely to do what you want it to do when it is healthy and well cared for.
Hormones can also cause hair to grow in girls as well in strange places. You will have hair on your genital area, under your arms and on your legs. Smaller hairs are almost unnoticed. Resist the urge to shave just because the commercials tell you that it looks sexier.
The hair growth is partially due to the amount of testosterone in the body. Yes, girls have testosterone too. Especially on your face (the phantom mustache over the lip), don’t remove the hair unless you want to continue the upkeep. The hair will grow back but more thick and course so it is more noticeable than before.
Skin can give you the most troubles when you are a teenager. No one wants to have a zit on their forehead during prom night. Stress and anxiety can trigger a breakout. If your pores are already clogged, it will just get worse.
Prevent much of the breakouts by keeping your face clean and moisturized. Wash your face daily with a cleaning regimen. This is important for boys and girls but girls have an added need.
Once a month you will have a menstrual cycle. It is the body’s way of preparing you for carrying a baby. Hormone levels rise as they release an egg from the ovary and it travels down the fallopian tube to the uterus. The uterus walls thicken and fill with blood to nourish the potential developing fetus.
When the egg is not fertilized by a sperm, the lining sheds for about two to seven days. This is the time when you menstruate. During your period you may have to deal with skin issues so keeping your skin fresh and healthy from the start can counteract that situation.
Just like with boys, if you have a serious case of acne, see a dermatologist. He or she can prescribe the right regimen to clear it up. Avoid using perfumed lotions and heavy creams which can clog pores.
If you wear makeup, be sure that your face is completely clean before using it. Opt for mineral makeup. It is all the rage these days and is less likely to clog the pores of the face. The minerals also hide tiny imperfections in the facial skin.
Remove your makeup each night with an approved makeup remover. It will get rid of all the dirt. Then, cleanse your face again to make sure it is all gone. Sleeping in makeup can age your face and also contribute to skin irritations.
Girls are more likely to take regular baths than boys because they want to be clean all the time. For boys it can be a sign of manhood to go for a few days without a shower but most girls would gag at the thought.
As a young girl, many changes are occurring in your body especially in the genital area. You may notice certain odors or discharge that wasn’t there before. Understanding it and how to keep yourself clean can eliminate embarrassing situations.
Regular bathing with plain soap and water will remove dead skin and dirt from the body. Be careful with the genital area. Rough rubbing can damage skin and lead to infections. During your period, taking regular baths can eliminate the smell of blood that you may smell. Don’t worry; others can’t smell it on you. Taking a tub bath can actually soothe cramps and help you feel better.
Also, changing pads and tampons regularly during your period will cut down on odor. Keep an extra pair of underwear with you just in case an accident occurs. It is always best to be prepared to prevent embarrassing situations.
Girls often have a question about douching after their monthly period. Unless prescribed by a doctor, douching is not recommended. The vagina has a natural cleansing system that removes harmful bacteria and leaves good flora behind to prevent future infections. Just the act of using one can wash away the good bacteria leaving you defenseless against yeast.
Like boys, drying off completely after showering keeps odor down to a minimum. Wearing cotton underclothing can prevent rashes and promote air flow to the region.
Hormones and Your Self-Esteem
The body will go through many changes. It can affect your mood and how you see yourself. Staying clean and learning to listen to your body is the first step in knowing who you are. You may feel like the hormones are taking over but you can learn how to deal with them.
You may be thinking more about sex now since the hormones are raging. Communicate with someone you trust like your parents to learn all about your feelings and how to deal with them. If you know that you are doing the best for your body, then that is one less thing to worry about when love is on your mind.
In the midst of everything else, hygiene can lapse. Keep on task and get control of your body with daily cleansing regimens.
Hygiene is important at all ages. At the teen level, bodily changes can make it hard to take care of yourself without the proper understanding of what is happening to you. Knowledge is power. When you know what to do, you can breathe a little easier, about hygiene at least.