Your underarm is one of the most sensitive parts of your body. It is also the one area which is mostly warm, and damp due to the presence of sweat. That combined with body hair can lead to itching. Itchy underarms are usually an allergic reaction to an ingredient in your body care products such as deodorants or shaving creams. But it could also be because of heat rash, sensitive skin or soap. At times, it can develop a fungus or yeast infection in which case the itchiness may turn into an armpit rash. Luckily, itchy underarms are common and its treatment is fairly simple too.
An armpit rash can be red or white, scaly or bumpy and can last anywhere between a few hours to a few months. Treatment options include both home remedies, and over-the-counter medicines. Only in severe cases, where the itchiness or rash won’t subside, will you have to visit a dermatologist who will prescribe oral medicines and topical application creams. The tickling, irritating sensation can be quite frustrating, so if you are dealing with it and looking for solutions, we have it all ready for you. In this article, we will tell you causes of itchy underarms, along with types of armpit rashes and ways to treat it.
- What causes itchy underarms?
- Types of armpit rashes
- Home remedies for itchy underarms
- Over the counter remedies for itchy underarms
- FAQs about itchy underarms
What causes itchy underarms?
Itchy underarms or armpit rashes can develop due to a lot of reasons, these can range from daily lifestyle habits to medical conditions. You may constantly feel like scratching your skin, this will only make the condition worse. Trying to understand the cause of the itching will help you prevent it.
While spraying deodorant before going out will help you stay fresh and smelling good for a long time, it is also the number one cause of an armpit rash. If your underarm area gets particularly itchy after applying deodorant, you may be allergic to the product or an ingredient in it. Try switching to a different brand or range, deodorants that contain alcohol can be harsh on the skin and cause itching. Therefore, it is recommended to use an alcohol-free deodorant to keep itchy underarms at bay.
Using a razor to get rid of underarm hair seems like the most convenient method. But razors may cause itching and armpit rashes. Especially if you use an old razor or your skin is sensitive and if it’s not been cleaned properly before shaving. Dry shaving can also irritate the underarm area and lead to itchy underarms. Therefore, avoid using a razor if possible and if you have to, then apply some conditioner on the area before shaving. Don’t forget to moisturise the skin afterward.
Regular soaps contain harsh chemicals and artificial fragrances, both can make the underarm area dry and flaky. In some cases, it may even cause itching and rashes. Using a pH-balanced soap or shower gel with mild and moisturising ingredients can help relieve the problem.
Sometimes internal issues may also cause a physical reaction. If you are stressed or anxious, your nervous system gets affected and this can cause itching in any part of your body. Since the underarm area is sensitive and delicate, an armpit rash may develop.
5. Poor hygiene
It is necessary to keep the underarm area clean and fresh. Apart from showering every day, it is also important to change your undergarments and clothes especially after working out. Keeping sweaty clothes on your body for a long time can cause both itchy underarms as well as armpit rash.
Types of armpit rashes
There are different types of armpit rashes that can develop in the underarms area and cause it to itch. Knowing which type of rash it is will help address the condition better. Let’s take a look at all the different types of armpit rashes below:
1. Atopic dermatitis
One type of armpit rash is atopic dermatitis also known as eczema. It usually begins during childhood and commonly develops in skin folds such as the back of the knee, inside of the elbows and the armpits. Atopic dermatitis can be very itchy and leads to red rashes that can also bleed due to excessive scratching.
2. Contact dermatitis
As the name suggests, contact dermatitis appears when your skin comes in contact with an allergen. Certain ingredients in your deodorant or body lotion may cause an allergic reaction on the underarm area. At times, certain fabrics or detergents can also trigger contact dermatitis.
3. Seborrheic dermatitis
Unlike atopic dermatitis which occurs due to dryness, seborrheic dermatitis is a result of excessive sebum production or oil secretion. It may turn your armpit area into yellow oily patches.
Candidiasis is a type of fungal infection that occurs due to poor hygiene, tight clothing and hot weather. It develops on the moist areas of the body such as the underarm area. This type of armpit rash appears in the form of red and scaly skin.
Home remedies for itchy underarms
The first method of treatment for any skin and health concern is a home remedy. It is safer, easier and affordable. Plus, most skin infections tend to heal on their own with a little help from ingredients and products available in the house. Here’s how to deal with itchy underarms at home.
Applying a soothing moisturiser to the underarm area can relieve the itching and calm the skin, especially if it feels dry. Make sure you use a fragrance-free formula, as artificial fragrances can further irritate the skin and slow down the healing process. If you can get fresh aloe vera gel, apply it to calm the skin.
2. Ice cubes
Another way to deal with itchy underarms is with the help of ice cubes. It will soothe the skin and also prevent you from scratching the area constantly. Do not apply it directly on the skin, wrap the ice cube in a clean, soft towel and then press on the area lightly.
3. Essential oils
Essential oils like tea tree and lavender can be used to treat armpit rashes. Both these oils have the ability to fight infections and soothe skin, however don’t apply them directly on the skin. Use a carrier oil to mix a few drops and then apply on the affected area.
Over the counter remedies for itchy underarms
Before you make an appointment to visit a dermatologist, trying a few over-the-counter products can also address the issue. Some powders, lotions and ointments are known to be very effective in treating rashes.
1. Anti-chafing powders
Rashes that develop due to sweat and constant friction of the skin can be healed with the help of an anti-chafing powder. It will reduce the friction as well as lessen the pain. Clean the area thoroughly with mild soap and water, then dust the powder on the affected area, and wear loose clothes.
2. Calamine lotion
Calamine lotions can have a calming effect on the skin, if you have an armpit rash, try applying a little bit of calamine lotion over it. This will reduce inflammation as well as the itching and heal the rash faster.
3. Anti-fungal ointments
If your armpit rash is the result of a yeast or bacterial infection an antifungal ointment or gel can offer relief. Ingredients like nystatin, ketoconazole or clotrimazole in these ointments fight bacteria and heal the rash.
FAQs about itchy underarms
Q. How do I prevent armpit rash?
A. If your skin is sensitive and prone to developing rashes, we recommend using fragrance-free skincare products, wearing slightly loose cotton clothes, using a gentle soap and washing your clothes and towels regularly.
Q. Are itchy armpits a sign of diabetes?
A. Localised itching is a common concern among those with diabetes, so if you have itchy underarms, it could be a sign of diabetes. In fact, some diabetes medication may also cause rashes on your skin that may spread to other parts of the body such as the armpits.
Written by Sanya Hamdani on Jun 04, 2021
Sanya Hamdani is a skincare enthusiast and lipstick hoarder, she truly believes no two red lipsticks look exactly alike. With a Master's degree in Communication & Journalism and 5+ years of digital writing experience up her sleeve, Sanya has some of the biggest beauty experts in the country on her speed dial. When she's not swatching products or writing about the latest trends in beauty, you will find her watching F.R.I.E.N.D.S. or cooking up a storm in the kitchen.