Student Body Odor - pg.2 | allnurses

Student Body Odor - page 2

I'm a high school nurse and am wondering how you all handle student body odor complaints. It is a delicate issue and I feel like I'm walking a fine line of being accused of singling a student out.... Read More

  1. Visit  Geslina profile page
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    Quote from mercurysmom

    My LPN class was made up of equal parts of federally employed NA's, single parents receiving AFDC, and "general admission"students from the community. One of my classmates was a single mother of 4 children, living up in the hilltowns somewhere. She did not have a car, but the Dept. of Public Welfare did provide transportation to and from classes and clinicals. At some point during the winter, several of us noticed that her uniforms were clearly unwashed, her stockings were full of holes, and her hair was visibly greasy and unkempt. Worst of all was her body odor. She seemed to be aware of it, and she kept toiletries in her locker and tried to clean up as best as she could during breaks and lunch.

    One morning, she was called out of class and never returned. Apparently, she had had a minor house fire several weeks before, and while most of the home was still intact, she lost electricity and phone services. Without electricity, her well didn't work, so she had been getting drinking water from neighbors and melting snow to for water for flushing the toilet. Her sole source of heat was a wood stove, and they were using candles and kerosene lanterns for light. Somehow, someone discovered the family's living conditions, and had reported them to DCF.

    We felt horrible. None of us had considered asking her about how things were going at home. When her hygiene started slipping, no one mentioned it to her, although we rolled our eyes and made faces behind her back. We never thought that offering to help her with such a (relatively) minor problem may have benefited her entire family. This is one of the top five "missed opportunities" I've experienced, and I will remember and learn from it for the rest of my life.
    This made me really sad. Especially because this girl/woman was trying to better her life. I hope that whatever happened, she was able to return to school eventually. I will try to remember this story and learn from it as well.

    As another poster, DawnJ, mentioned, this may be a cultural thing. You could bathe daily, but still have body/perspiration odor if you don't use deodorant, and in some countries, they don't use it. So it isn't even always a matter of bathing.

    Not sure how I feel about telling a student directly - that could be mortifying for some kids. But I guess the alternative is being osctracized by their peers, and that isn't good either.
  2. Visit  GitanoRN profile page
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    And the Beat goes on...
  3. Visit  dt70 profile page
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    Our 5th grade history teacher gave a lesson on deodorant. His class was after gym, and I don't think he could take
    it any longer. After a while he singled out individual students. This was during the 70's when you speak more freely.
  4. Visit  Sudsy profile page
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    This is a hard one....I speak to the classes at the beginning of each year and then I speak with "prime offenders" individually during the year.

    The family I have most problems with is one where, frankly, the Dad smells HORRIBLE and I scootch over by my window when he shows up in my office (Mom insists the kids DO bathe every day, which seems highly doubtful). When I speak to the kids of this family, I tell them that "in our culture, the norm is to bathe every day" (I agree with you, DawnJ, that culture can def. play a role). Not that they seem to care much about cultural norms. So sad....

    First poster: GREAT work you did!!!! That sounds like a wonderful class you ran!
  5. Visit  morte profile page
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    perhaps some genetic disease process?
    Quote from Sudsy
    This is a hard one....I speak to the classes at the beginning of each year and then I speak with "prime offenders" individually during the year.

    The family I have most problems with is one where, frankly, the Dad smells HORRIBLE and I scootch over by my window when he shows up in my office (Mom insists the kids DO bathe every day, which seems highly doubtful). When I speak to the kids of this family, I tell them that "in our culture, the norm is to bathe every day" (I agree with you, DawnJ, that culture can def. play a role). Not that they seem to care much about cultural norms. So sad....

    First poster: GREAT work you did!!!! That sounds like a wonderful class you ran!
  6. Visit  NutmeggeRN profile page
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    I have found the best way is the most direct. (Im in HS) and usually I get a phone call from a teacher. I will then try to subtly get the kiddo into my office, shut the door and tell them that sime had expressed a concern about body odor. I try to find out of it is non bathing issue (? access to hot water) a poor hygeine issue, or if their washer (if they have one ) is broken. I offer them my shower, the ability to wash their clothes. Some time I have to be brutally frank. Most times it works. I do usually follow up with a call ( not always) and offer what I can. Sometimes it is their sneakers (especially boys!)

    Never an easy one to broach but I have gotten more comfortable with it over the years....
  7. Visit  newk-5schoolrn profile page
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    I have the same issue, only at the upper elementary level. My concern is the parents and their reaction to us having this discussion with their kid? Anybody ever have a problem with that?
  8. Visit  NutmeggeRN profile page
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    KIDS-For the most part no and often it is with relief as they know they smell and often cannot do anything about it until someone like me intervenes.
    Parents- Never had a problem and I have at times offered the shower to them as well.....

    I shall now duck and run ....
  9. Visit  my crazy world profile page
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    Wow that is a hard place. But it can be handled in a positive way. Deffinatly in private of course, maybe their is something going on with the student.... depression, maybe unable to get items needed to handle the sitation. In high school I was in a very very dark place and just wanted to go away. I did nothing because I was in such darkness I didnt have the energy or the drive. It was a counsiler at the school that took me a side and gave me attention that made me relize that I was worth while. She got me some pretty smelly bath stuff and make up and hair tips. If it wasn't for the time she took out for me, I honestly would have done the unthinkable and ended it all. If it is a young man talk to him. Just be empathetic and caring and i would not mention about the complaints from everyone. It may make the student uncomfortable around everyone, wondering what they are saying behind his back and all that annoying mental stuff. Just approach as you noticed them and show intrest in who they are. I dont know if this helps but being the student in the situation myself that is how I would approach the situation.
  10. Visit  NRSKarenRN profile page
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    Looks like many school nurses are doing great work discussing body odors. Please include information about Hyperhidrosis as this can start in high school.
  11. Visit  intheweeds profile page
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    I try to be as nice and keep it as light as possible if I see students one-on-one. I also try to keep it general, even if it just me and the student ("The teachers have noticed a lot of kids having hygiene issues in your grade, so we're speaking to some of you. This is a really common issue for kids your age..."). I also really like the advice of asking how things are going at home...
    Peggyd likes this.
  12. Visit  Sudsy profile page
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    Quote from morte
    perhaps some genetic disease process?
    I kind of doubt it, but they do live in a very rural area and have a number of animals and just do not seem to bathe as much as we would consider "appropriate"....
  13. Visit  Marasca profile page
    1
    I would like to point out that some boys just stink! I have a perfectly healthy nephew who produces an astonishingly bad odor. No rural / farm influence involved. An hour after he showers you will hesitate to hug him. Poor guy. I'm not sure there's a deodorant in this world that can help him.
    NutmeggeRN likes this.


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