BO In School?

Question:

I’m a high school student. Lately I noticed that some people are annoyed by the way I smell. I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s because of the heat that’s in the classroom. But it’s still winter now, and I feel so self-conscious when it comes to these things. I’ve asked my friends if it’s true, but they say, “No.” I feel like it’s only when the classroom gets humid that I smell. A guy, who sits behind me in math, keeps trying to kick my seat up away from him and then people start to sniff over and over like they have a cold or something. But I honestly don’t smell anything and neither do some people. I feel so embarrassed that I don’t even want to go to school. Please help me solve this problem.

Signed,

Embarrassed


Answer:

DearĀ Embarrassed:

Our site answers workplace, not medical, questions. However, here are some thoughts for you to consider and you can read many questions and our advice regarding body odor by using the search engine in our Ask The Workplace Doctors Archive. Just type in those two words in our search engine. The best preventatives for body odor that can bother others are daily showers, washing hair, and brushing of teeth (including brushing tongue and flossing between teeth). After each bath, use deodorant under your arms. Also your clothing can carry odor, so they must be clean especially your underwear. By the way, sneakers can stink! You are right that heat and humidity can cause you to perspire and that aggravates odor. Most of the time we are not able to smell our own body odor.

These remarks may seem simple and so basic that you may think they will not help. But if you follow them, you can know that you are not the problem unless you eat raw garlic (which by the way is good for you), have a bad habit of passing gas or belching. If you smoke or chew tobacco that not only will hurt your body and cut off years of your life, but will leave you smelling like an ashtray. So if you do, the best thing you can do for yourself is to quit.

Some of your classmates may move away from you because of your body odor or just because they don’t like you or because they have not learned that shunning anyone can hurt others feelings and that that is simply mean. For whatever reason that has happened in the past, do not let that ruin your day or life. Once you know you smell ok, just go about your school being as friendly as practical without trying too hard to get others to like you. Do not reply to mean remarks with mean remarks.

All of us need to think about ourselves, (that’s the good purpose of ego) but if you can focus on making others happy and helping the lonely, that will help you feel better about yourself. I’m sorry all this has caused you to not want to go to school. Now is the time to learn all you can and to develop skills that will prepare you for college and/or getting a job that you like. So I hope you don’t waste this time feeling sorry for yourself. Think positive thoughts. Don’t take everything too seriously. Turn everything you can into a little fun.

And by the way, keep putting your thoughts into words. You can get by with sloppy talk and writing and even poor grades. But learning to write and speak well are essential to making a favorable impression in your classes, when interviewing for a job, and making friends you want to keep. Improving your communication skills can begin by noticing how writers write in the newspaper, magazines, and your schoolbooks. Also we learn to write by re-reading and revising what we write. I almost always have to do that two or three or four times to make what I write clear, somewhat interesting, and free from error. I’ve done that with my answer to you, and I still may have made some errors.

Will you take the time to let me know if these thoughts help you and if I have not wasted your time and mine? By the way, I’m attaching guidelines for good hygiene that my associate Tina Rowe prepared because so many questions come to our site on this topic. I have copied this answer to you to both of my associate Workplace Doctors. After scanning it, they may remind me that I should not waste my time answering questions that do not pertain to work. Usually, I don’t.

Thinking ego is big of me. Thinking WEGO makes more of thee and me. Second Opinion: I will add to Dr. Gorden’s advice: Almost every school nowadays has many resources to help young people deal with a variety of issues. Talk to your teachers, counselors and school nurse or any other adult who is associated with your school and ask them for advice. They will certainly be able to tell if you have a situation that is noticeable–such things doesn’t just go away when the heat and humidity is lowered. Then, ask them for their help to allow you to be in class without having to deal with the rude behavior of a few.

If the people around you have some problem with anything about you, they should be handling it the right way, by working with the teacher and talking to you about it, not doing the things you’ve described. The purpose of school is to focus on school–they are keeping that from happening for you and probably others as well.

In addition, we now know that when kids act like that, it can lead to anger that creates even bigger problems. Tell adults about the behavior of those around you and ask for help in dealing with it.

The issue you mention happens in workplaces too, so if you think you might have a problem now, now is the time to deal with it. Whether or not you have a problem with odor now is the time to stop the mean behavior of those around you. You can do it! Just do it the right way by getting help from those in charge.

Tina Lewis Rowe