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Addressing Student Body Odor

School   (1,307 Views | 26 Replies)

SchoolNurseK is a BSN, RN and specializes in Home Health, School Nurse Newbie.

139 Profile Views; 16 Posts

How do I delicately approach a student regarding body odor?  Particularly if they come from a cultural background where deodorant is not common and body odor is not viewed as an issue?

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Emergent has 25 years experience.

7 Followers; 2 Articles; 2,869 Posts; 66,153 Profile Views

I would think that eventually the student will catch on. I remember with my boys, until middle school I had to insist on bathing. All of a sudden I had to insist they leave hot water for others due to their draining the hot water tank each morning. 

Leave it to peer pressure, I say...

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SchoolNurseK is a BSN, RN and specializes in Home Health, School Nurse Newbie.

16 Posts; 139 Profile Views

The student is a high school senior, so apparently he isn't prone to succumbing to peer pressure.  Usually a good thing, but maybe not in this case!🙄

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ruby_jane has 10 years experience as a BSN, RN and specializes in ICU/community health/school nursing.

3 Followers; 2,657 Posts; 10,867 Profile Views

My least favorite topic. Why is this being asked of you? Is it someone with whom you have a lot of contact and a friendly relationship?

If this bothers a teacher and the teacher is asking you for help, I would always be available to be on the phone as the TEACHER called the parent with his/her concerns. But make that call? No thanks.

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2 Followers; 5 Articles; 4,125 Posts; 35,208 Profile Views

generally, I don't mind having a chat about  hygiene with a kid, but honestly, by the time someone hits senior year, i may have different reservations.  OTOH, devil's advocate, would I be mortified to find out that I was walking around in a culture thinking that everything was hunky-dory but that most people thought that I smelt like low tide at the pier to their culture.  Perhaps a quick check in may not hurt.  If he isn't from "around here" he  may not know what the societal norms are.  Deodorant may literally be a foreign concept.  

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Emergent has 25 years experience.

7 Followers; 2 Articles; 2,869 Posts; 66,153 Profile Views

Maybe start including American standards of hygiene in health class. A general notice is always less embarrassing than a come to Jesus discussion. 

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JenTheSchoolRN is a BSN, RN and specializes in School nursing.

2,594 Posts; 24,074 Profile Views

Do you have a good relationship with the student? Because this conversation goes much better when started by a person who has a good relationship with the student.

Since they are a senior, a direct conversation is likely what would happen vs health class at this point. And I wouldn't say "your peers" - if it were a student I see and have a relationship with I'd own the statement and say "I noticed that..."  I have a small supply of personal hygiene materials in my officer as well for students to try/keep.

But at the end of the day, kids not using deodorant might just not use deodorant. And that isn't a health issue. 

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Jedrnurse has 25 years experience as a BSN, RN and specializes in school nurse.

1,483 Posts; 14,070 Profile Views

17 hours ago, JenTheSchoolRN said:

Do you have a good relationship with the student? Because this conversation goes much better when started by a person who has a good relationship with the student.

Since they are a senior, a direct conversation is likely what would happen vs health class at this point. And I wouldn't say "your peers" - if it were a student I see and have a relationship with I'd own the statement and say "I noticed that..."  I have a small supply of personal hygiene materials in my officer as well for students to try/keep.

But at the end of the day, kids not using deodorant might just not use deodorant. And that isn't a health issue. 

I agree that it isn't strictly a medical health issue, but if there's a way to do the kid a solid, you'd certainly be setting him up for circumstances supporting optimal mental health. (Who doesn't do better in life not carrying around the burden of being the stinky one?)

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302 Posts; 1,176 Profile Views

I know this may be childish, but could you type up an anonymous, nicely written note and put it in his locker?  At least this way he would know personally without being called into an office. If he faces somebody in person, he might later be embarrassed if he passes that person who had the conversation w/ him.

Yes, I know this is child-like and we should be adult about it,  but it's a way to let him know without him getting too embarrassed.

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173 Posts; 999 Profile Views

8 hours ago, Mergirlc said:

I know this may be childish, but could you type up an anonymous, nicely written note and put it in his locker?  At least this way he would know personally without being called into an office. If he faces somebody in person, he might later be embarrassed if he passes that person who had the conversation w/ him.

Yes, I know this is child-like and we should be adult about it,  but it's a way to let him know without him getting too embarrassed.

I like that you’re thinking creatively but I don’t like this idea!  I think he would think that a peer wrote it and he’d be mortified, thinking that everyone was gossiping about him. 

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302 Posts; 1,176 Profile Views

22 hours ago, CommunityRNBSN said:

I like that you’re thinking creatively but I don’t like this idea!  I think he would think that a peer wrote it and he’d be mortified, thinking that everyone was gossiping about him. 

You do have a point.  I just have a sneaking feeling that everybody is already probably gossiping about him, if not worse!  Maybe sign the note, "a concerned friend?"

I recall back when I was in high school, there was a girl who had body odor and she was not the nicest person in school, to boot.  One day after school, there was a mixed group of individuals who bought a bunch of deodorants and threw them at her as she walked toward the bus.  She got the message loud and clear and was quite embarrassed.  I would hate for something similar to that to happen to this poor fellow. 

Whatever method is decided to tell him, somebody needs to.

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Leader25 has 35 years experience.

2 Followers; 915 Posts; 5,035 Profile Views

We had this problem once and it was handled by someone  adult not a peer,from same culture background who took care of it.

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