Armpits – Like other body parts, the skin under the armpits can darken or discolour. Underarm skin, darker than others, can make it difficult for some people to wear sleeveless shirts, swimwear in public, or play sports.
Read on to learn more about the possible causes of dark armpits and the different treatment options.
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Causes Of Dark Armpits
The reasons for the darkening of the armpits are:
- Chemical irritants in deodorants and antiperspirants
- Irritation and abrasions from shaving
- Accumulation of dead skin cells due to frequent exfoliation
- Friction from tight clothing
- Hyperpigmentation, such as increased melanin
- blemishes or dark patches on the skin
- Skin pigmentation disorders associated with acanthosis nigricans, diabetes, obesity, and abnormal hormone levels
Other skin conditions that can cause darkening, such as Fox-Fordyce disease
- erythrasma, bacterial skin infection
- Addison’s disease, which can occur when the adrenal glands are damaged
- Smoking increases hyperpigmentation
The First Step To Light Armpits
If you want lighter underarms, here are the first steps you can take to address the root cause of dark underarms.
Change deodorants or antiperspirants. Find other brands. Consider switching to natural alternatives like baking soda or apple cider vinegar. Some people may prefer to stop using deodorants or antiperspirants entirely.
Stop shaving. Try waxing or laser hair removal instead.
Exfoliate Use a gentle body scrub or exfoliant on the affected area 2-3 times a week. Underarm skin is thin and fragile, so choose an exfoliant for sensitive skin. You can also use a facial scrub.
- Wear loose-fitting clothes.
- Quit smoking.
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Natural Remedies For Dark Armpits
Many people opt for a natural way to lighten their underarms. Naturopathic proponents suggest using several items with natural whitening properties, including:
Grind the potatoes, squeeze the juice and apply it to your armpits. After 10 minutes, rinse your armpits with cold water.
Milk, Rose Water, Orange Zest
Mix 1 tablespoon of milk and 1 tablespoon of rose water with the orange zest powder to form a thick paste. Gently rub the underarms with the paste, leave it on for about 15 minutes, then rinse with cold water. Repeat 2-3 times a week.
Cut thick lemon slices and apply them to your armpits. After 10 minutes, rinse your armpits with cold water, pat dry, and apply a moisturizer.
Turmeric And Lemon
Mix 2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice and enough turmeric to form a paste in a small bowl. Apply the paste evenly to your armpits. After 30 minutes, wash off the paste.
Egg Yolk Oil
Massage egg yolk oil into your armpits right before bedtime. The next morning, wash your armpits with a pH-balanced shower gel or soap.
Massage a few drops of coconut oil into your armpits. After 15 minutes, wash your armpits with lukewarm water and mild soap. Repeat this step 2-3 times a week.
Tea Tree Oil
Mix 5 drops of tea tree oil and 8 ounces of water in a small spray bottle. Apply the mixture under your armpits daily after showering or bathing and wiping with a towel. Let dry naturally.
Medical Treatment For Dark Armpits
If a skin condition causes dark underarms, or you prefer a stronger treatment, your doctor or dermatologist may prescribe the following treatments:
Creams or lotions containing:
- Tretinoin (retinoic acid)
- Azelaic acid
- Kojic acid
- Chemical peeling with alpha hydroxy acids (AHA) and beta hydroxy acids (BHA) to exfoliate the skin
- Dermabrasion or microdermabrasion that thoroughly cleanses the skin
- Laser therapy to remove pigmentation
If you have been diagnosed with erythematosus, your doctor will prescribe one of the following medications:
- Topical antibiotics such as erythromycin or clindamycin (Cleocin T, Clinda-Derm)
- Oral antibiotics such as penicillin
- topical and oral antibiotics
Potential Risks Of Whitening Treatment
Skin whitening treatments can cause mild side effects that go away over time. Strong reactions are rare unless you use something you didn’t even know you were allergic to.
Even natural products such as food can cause skin irritation when applied to the skin.
To avoid possible irritation, apply the product to a small underarm skin area. If no negative skin reaction occurs within 48 hours, continue to apply the product all over your armpits.
Strong acids, such as those in skin care products, can irritate the skin. They can also cause other reactions, including redness and sensitivity to the sun. Some acids can also make shady underarms worse.
If your doctor prescribes a cream or lotion, follow the instructions carefully. Do not leave the product on your skin longer than recommended.
Dermatological procedures and other forms of skin damage or irritation can cause a reaction known as post-inflammatory pigmentation (PIH).
Side effects of PIH include:
- Dry skin
- Additional skin discolouration
Talk to your healthcare professional if you are concerned that your underarm skin is darker than other skin types. Discolouration may be the result of a medical condition.
If darkened armpits are not the result of an underlying condition that requires treatment, talk to your doctor about some alternatives to lighten your armpits.
Hyperpigmentation can often be difficult to treat, especially for dark-skinned people. It may take several months to see results. Be patient while you and your clinician find the right treatment for you.
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