Out of all the things that we prefer to sweep under the table and never talk about, pimples in the 'pits are right up there. And let's be real, that's not always something we can hit up our girlfriends for. It's easier to freak out collectively when there's a pimple bang in the middle of your forehead, but a "hey, there's a pimple in my armpit," is a much more awkward conversation, right? That's not to mention the pain that they can often bring. One tends to experience sensitivity, itchiness, and skin irritation when the pimples appear.
To improve our understanding about pimples in the armpit, we reached out to dermatologist and trichologist, Dr. Mrunal Shah Modi, to explain it to us. She said, "In the underarm skin, you have a lot of hair follicles and sweat glands. Sometimes, when the hair follicles get infected or if they get blocked, it can cause pimples. You could also get recurring boils in the underarm which is a condition called hidradenitis activa, which is a very chronic bacterial infection that goes on in the underarms. Sometimes, if there's a big bacterial infection, you could face boils in the underarms."
But here's the good news: they're usually nothing to worry about. The tiny bumps –– whether flesh-toned or inflamed, without symptoms or with itching –– are generally harmless. Ready to deep dive into the world of armpit pimples? Let's first look at what causes them.
- Causes of underarm pimple
- Other causes of armpit pimples according to expert
- How to get rid of pimple under armpit
- FAQ about pimple under armpit
Causes of underarm pimple
1. Ingrown Hair
Not to be dramatic, but ingrown hairs are the bane of our existence. Just grow outside of the skin, it's not that hard! According to Dr. Mrunal, shaving and other forms of hair removal are common causes of ingrown hairs, a condition that may result in armpit bumps. She explains, "If you're shaving in all directions and not shaving properly, there can be ingrowths, because of which many people get boils in the underarms."
Okay, this one's a little more serious. An infection of the hair follicle, folliculitis looks like a red bump that contains pus or blood, and is usually caused by bacteria in the skin. You can heave a sigh of relief though, because in most cases, it clears up on its own with self-care and proper hygiene –– although in severe cases, you may need to hit up a dermatologist for some advice.
3. Contact Dermatitis
Imagine doing something as simple as applying a deodorant, or washing your clothes with a detergent and wearing it –– and suddenly, you've got pimples all over your armpits. This is called allergic contact dermatitis, and it occurs when the skin comes into contact with a substance or ingredient which it's allergic to. If you're allergic to certain ingredients, you absolutely need to do your research when you're picking the right products to apply on your body!
You know that feeling when you wear a T-shirt that's a little too tight on the armpits? Yeah, that can cause armpit pimples. The underarm is exposed to friction quite a bit, whether skin-to-skin or skin-to-cloth. And if you're not careful, the constant rubbing can cause injury, irritation, and even an infection, along with armpit pimples. Adding to this list, friction could be caused by perfumes and deodorants too, according to Dr. Mrunal. "Poor hygiene is another factor; if you're not cleaning your underarms properly or directly spraying a perfume or deodorant, it could cause irritation and cause boils," she says.
5. Razor Burns
2020 was the year we collectively gave up on waxing our armpits, and switched to shaving instead. And while it's got a ton of perks, routinely using a razor to remove armpit hair increases friction, can cause a rash, and will definitely lead to armpit pimples. Also, this is more likely if you're using an old or dull razor, since that can introduce bacteria into small breaks in the skin. So, consider this a friendly reminder. If you've been using the same razor for months, please change it ASAP!
You could get pimples in your underarms if you just... sweat a lot. Nothing else! Dr. Mrunal explains, "One could be that a person just sweats a lot in their underarms. The sweat glands get blocked and it can cause someone to get boils."
Other causes of armpit pimples according to expert
Additionally, other causes of pimples in the armpit, according to Dr. Mrunal also include having a weak immune system, unnatural blood sugar levels, sudden weight gain which causes occlusion of the area, as well as certain medications and exposure to infectious sources. Seriously, the list goes on and on. But on a happier note –– it can definitely be prevented.
The first step, obviously, is to visit a dermatologist. Dr. Mrunal has some sage advice on how that will help; she says, "If someone already has painful boils, we firstly give them antibiotics that are anti-inflammatory, along with pain killers. We also recommend antibiotic creams which help settle down the infection. In some cases, we also give antibacterial soaps along with warm compresses if the patient is extremely uncomfortable. We tell the patients not to squeeze the pimples or boils, because that can cause the infection to spread — so avoid squeezing them."
Apart from that, we're listing down the ways to take care of and prevent pimples in the underarm. Here's how.
How to get rid of pimple under armpit
We cannot stress this enough! Scrubbing your armpits thoroughly, whether it's with a scrub or an exfoliating body wash, or even a loofah, is a super-easy way to keep armpit pimples away. Incorporating it into your regular shower routine will remove the extra sebum, and unclog the pores in your underarm skin.
2. Avoid Friction
If you're someone who's prone to 'pit pimples, wear loose clothing! Tight-fitted tees may look cute for the 'gram, but you need to let your skin breathe every now and then, and wearing loose, breathable, cotton clothing is the easiest way to ensure that. Dr. Mrunal also adds, "Wash your clothes regularly! Don't re-wear clothes that have accumulated sweat, and make sure there are no fungal infections — if you have them, you'll need proper treatment. Visit the doctor at the earliest, and be sure to take treatment!"
3. Use Products That Suit You
We've said it before, we're going to say it again –– if you're someone with sensitive skin, or have allergies to certain ingredients, do you research before you buy certain products, especially when it comes to your armpits. Opting for products that are gentle and suit your skin type can help you avoid allergies and undesirable pimples.
4. Follow General Skin Hygiene
Listen, we know that in lockdown, the days seamlessly blend into one and taking showers seems futile. A couple of days go by, and you haven't showered, and the cycle continues until the next time you have a work call that you need to look presentable for. But wait! You're just inviting unnecessary bacteria onto your body. Dr. Mrunal adds, "Maintain good hygiene, in general, to avoid pimples in the armpit. If your problem comes from sweating a lot, make sure you're bathing twice a day to remove all the sweat."
5. Razor It Right
Are razors convenient? You bet they are! Do they also pave the way for ingrown hair and skin irritation? Also yes. Will we stop using them? Definitely not. While you and your razor may be BFFs now, here's a friendly piece of advice. If it's not working for you, opt for something else. "Opt for good hair removal techniques, and identify the triggers if you're shaving or waxing — go in for a permanent hair removal technique instead," explains Dr. Mrunal.
FAQ about pimple under armpit
Q. I already have a pimple on my armpit. How do I treat it?
A. Usually, the pimples in your armpits are harmless and will go away in a few days. Alternatively, you can apply a warm compress on the area, or spot treat it with a cream that your dermatologist recommends. If your pimple is persistent, stubborn, or worsening, you should definitely visit a medical professional to get it checked.
Q. Can I pop the pimple in my armpit?
A. OMG, please do not. It's a bad, bad idea to pop armpit pimples. If you try to pop the pimple and squish the pus out, there is a high chance of the bacteria going even deeper into your skin. This can also worsen your skin condition and cause pain and inflammation. Popping the pimple may lead to permanent scarring as well. You won't pop a pimple on your face, right? Please treat the one on your armpit with similar caution.