Is it true that a child can have "cecê"?
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Is it true that a child can have “cecê”?

Does it taste better than our daughters and sons? Smelling the head, feet, hands, little bodies and clothes of the little ones even has the power to give us extra energy on a daily basis, in addition to creating the olfactory memory of this beautiful bond.

When all this magic is interrupted by a bad, sour smell, many parents are frightened. After all, the “cecê” is not expected to appear before puberty. But that’s right: some children develop bromidrose – the correct name for this condition.

To understand why this happens, we talked to Ana Cristina Opolski, a dermatologist at Hospital IPO; Juliana Toma, dermatologist; and Loretta Campos, pediatrician and breastfeeding and infant sleep consultant. Take a deep breath and come on!

Sweat has no smell

The most common account of adults who perceive the infamous “cecê” of children is related to children’s physical activity: normally, the smell is perceived on days of physical education classes at school or intense activities at home. This may be the sign, but not the justification. The experts unanimously explain that perspiration has no odor.

“It is only when sweat mixes with bacteria on the skin that a bad smell can arise”, explains Juliana. “It is usually self-limiting or easily controlled. However, sometimes it becomes more chronic, difficult to control and can affect the person’s quality of life ”, he continues, also saying that bromidosis does not depend on sex and ethnicity.

Attention to the cleanliness of the armpits and clothes

A hyperhidrosis can contribute to this condition – it is about increasing sweat to maintain body temperature, especially during and after physical exercises. Loretta explains that, coupled with the child’s hygiene habits, the condition can cause the “cecê” to appear.

No judgments here: it may just be that, in a hurry, the necessary underarm cleaning is not being done. Or, even, that the child bathes alone and does not wash the armpits properly.

The condition of the clothes at the time of use can be placed in the same attention group with regard to infantile “cecê”. The pediatrician says that T-shirts already contaminated by bacteria (as a rule, those that were sweaty, were taken off, received interaction from bacteria and ended up being reused) cause the bad odor in the children’s armpits to appear or aggravate.

These cases are simple to resolve:

– Evaluate the hygiene routine – both the child’s skin and clothes.

– Daily baths, with appropriate soap indicated by a doctor, and special attention to the armpits.

– All shirts must be washed after use, thus avoiding the reuse of the pieces.

Food x “cecê”

There are times when the underarm smells come from the inside out, without necessarily having the interaction of perspiration with bacteria. The key to these pictures is on the plate. “The intake of some foods, such as garlic, curry and onions, can interfere”, says Ana Cristina.

The test is worth it: how about taking these strongest ingredients out of recipes for a while to see if the child’s “cecê” disappears?

Can “Cecê” be a sign of precocious puberty?

Yes, it can, and this should be investigated if the previous situations do not apply to the child in question. The evaluation of hormones by a pediatrician or pediatric endocrinologist is essential to determine whether this is the case.

Some simultaneous signs can give the clue, such as the birth of pubic hair or in the armpits. Ana Cristina points out that the signs of puberty are not expected before the age of 8 in girls and before age 9 in boys.

Other diseases and conditions related to infantile “cecê”.

The experts heard also mentioned that some diseases and health conditions may be related to the appearance of bromhidrosis.

It is important to make it clear that “cecê” is not a symptom of them, just something that can be linked and facilitate the understanding of mothers and fathers who already know that children have phenylketonuria (a very rare disease detected in the heel prick test) or diabetes, for example.

Can a child with “cecê” use deodorant?

It can, as long as it is indicated by a specialist doctor (pediatrician or dermatologist) and developed specifically for children’s skin. Deodorants for children are hypoallergenic, fragrance-free and alcohol-free.


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