Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

Personal hygiene

My brother is 30 with schizophrenia and refuses to use any form of soap/bodywash, deodorant or toothpaste (even organic/natural stuff) due to thinking it’s toxic for his body. He still showers but that doesn’t have any effect on his body odor. He has a foul smell and when anyone mentions the use of soap or the fact that he smells, he gets mad. Wondering if there’s any way to get him start using it. He is also taking the right medication every day. Worried for his general wellbeing.
Thanks in advance. :slight_smile:


Hi Fid. We have the same problem, as I’m sure many on this forum do.

The way we’re now managing it is by drawing firm lines (dangling “carrots”) about expectations for hygiene while he’s with us. When we know our son wants to spend time with us or go somewhere with us (like a restaurant), we’ll say, “You can join us, but only after you’ve washed your hair with shampoo and brushed your teeth with toothpaste”. It doesn’t always work, but it definitely does if the “reward” is reinforcing enough. For our son, spending time with close family is very reinforcing.

If your brother’s motivation to be with people is strong, this strategy may help you. I know it sounds like a strange way to treat an adult, since it’s more like what you’d do with a small child, but it is what it is.

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I wonder if he would use baking soda for brushing his teeth. Not sure what to do about the bo - perhaps he would be ok rubbing lavender flowers under his arms - which you can (or could) get at whole foods in bulk. I have the opposite issue - way tooooooo much body spray. Fortunately, I think he has run out and won’t go to the store so that may have resolved itself.


Body spray here too.

I want to put a sign up in our bathroom that reads:

“Body Spray does NOT replace a shower!!! No substitutions allowed!!!”


I won’t.

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@Squid - He showers but then puts on this cologne or whatever it is. It used to be Ax then it was something new and I know it’s cologne as others where I work use it but not like 1/2 the bottle. Mine showers daily. Not sure about the teeth, however. I think this is where something will happen. He hasn’t left the house for about a month. I’m guessing he will have some issues with his teeth and he will have to go to our dentist and won’t be able to. Maybe that will be when he’ll try some medication.


Vinegar applied to armpits will help with b.o., if he’ll try that

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My daughter will only use things from the health store that she feels is safe. I have gone over a lot of products with her and found ones that she uses now.
Her brother and i sometimes ask her to shower and she complies readily. She is 28 and was diagnosed 4 years ago. She didn’t take meds bc they make her feel suicidal. She used to take sarcosine which made her behave normally, in fact so well that she thought she was healed and she quit taking it. We are teething to get her to realize that she is not well and go back on the sarcosine at this time.