Darkened armpits can be an embarrassing and frustrating issue for many people. The discoloration is medically known as axillary hyperpigmentation. It occurs when there is excess melanin production in the armpits, causing them to turn several shades darker than the rest of your skin.
While mainly a cosmetic concern, darkened underarms can make people self-conscious about wearing certain clothes.
The good news is that with proper care and treatment, it is possible to lighten and get rid of dark underarms. In this article, we will discuss the causes, symptoms, care, risk factors, and precautions related to treating dark underarms.
What Are Darkened Armpits? Causes Of Darkened Underarms
Darkened armpits refer to darker skin in the underarm area as compared to the rest of the body. Some of the common causes include:
✔ Shaving – Frequent shaving irritates and inflames the delicate underarm skin causing darkness
✔ Friction – Skin rubbing from tight clothes can trigger irritation and pigmentation
✔ Sweat – Excess sweating leads to the accumulation of dirt and bacteria that causes darkened skin
✔ Dead skin cells – Accumulation of dead skin cells can block pores and cause discoloration
✔ Hormonal changes – Fluctuating hormones during puberty, pregnancy or menopause leads to increased melanin
✔ Weight gain – Skin stretching from weight gain or weight loss can also cause underarm darkening
✔ Deodorants and antiperspirants – Harsh chemicals and synthetic fragrances can irritate and darken the armpits
✔ Medical conditions – Diabetes, obesity, or other hormonal disorders can trigger excessive pigmentation
Symptoms Of Darkened Underarms
The main symptom is darker-colored patches on the underarm skin as compared to surrounding areas. Other associated symptoms and signs include:
✔ Velvety texture – skin feels extra smooth and velvety
✔ Sweat and odor – Excessive sweating and body odor
✔ Itching – mild itching sensation in the darkened areas
✔ Dryness – Dehydrated, flaky skin in underarms
✔ Irritation – irritation, redness, and inflammation of the skin
How To Take Care Of Darkened Underarms?
Here are some effective ways to lighten, treat and care for darkened armpits:
✔ Exfoliate regularly – Use a gentle scrub 2-3 times a week to remove dead cells and improve pigmentation
✔ Avoid shaving – Switch to hair removal creams or laser hair removal to prevent further irritation
✔ Use an antiperspirant – Look for an aluminum-free clinical strength antiperspirant to reduce excessive sweating
✔ Apply a lightening cream – Creams with kojic acid, vitamin C, or hydroquinone can help lighten skin over time
✔ Use natural remedies – Lemon juice, raw potato, and cucumber slices can temporarily lighten dark underarms
✔ Wear loose clothes – Tight-fitting and synthetic clothes rub against the armpits causing friction and darkness
✔ Maintain hygiene – Wash with mild antibacterial soap and keep underarms clean and dry
✔ Protect from the sun – Use sunscreen under the arms when going out to avoid further tanning
✔ Get adequate sleep – Adequate rest is essential for cell turnover and natural exfoliation
✔ Stay hydrated – Drink plenty of water to keep the skin well-hydrated and healthy
Risk Factors For Darkened Underarms
There are certain factors that can increase your risk of developing darkened armpits:
✔ Genetics – Having naturally darker skin means more melanin production which can lead to underarm pigmentation
✔ Obesity – Excess weight and skin friction lead to discoloration in folds like armpits and inner thighs
✔ Hormonal imbalance – Fluctuating hormones during pregnancy, PCOS, and menopause increase pigmentation risks
✔ Chronic diseases – Long-term diabetes or other conditions impact melanin production
✔ Skin irritation – Shaving, antiperspirants, and sweat rash can irritate and inflame underarms
✔ Sun exposure – Tanning from sun exposure causes more melanin formation
✔ Age – As we age, skin renewal slows down increasing dead cell buildup and pigmentation
✔ Ethnicity – Those with African-American or Hispanic skin tones are more prone to hyperpigmentation
✔ Medications – Certain drugs like chemotherapy or antimalarial pills may cause skin discoloration
Tips & Precautions to Prevent Darkened Underarms
Here are some useful precautions and tips for preventing dark underarms:
✔ Always use a sharp, sterilized razor and shave in the direction of hair growth
✔ Avoid over-shaving and allow 2-3 days between each shave session
✔ Use an aluminum-free, gentle antiperspirant deodorant suitable for sensitive skin
✔ Apply sunscreen with SPF 30+ before heading out to prevent tanning
✔ Exfoliate regularly using a gentle scrub containing AHAs or BHAs 2-3 times per week
✔ Wear loose breathable fabrics like cotton to minimize friction and irritation
✔ Keep the underarm area clean and dry to prevent the buildup of sweat, bacteria, and dead cells
✔ Include antioxidant-rich foods like berries, tomatoes, and spinach in your diet
✔ Apply soothing natural remedies like cucumber, yogurt, and lemon juice on the underarms
✔ See a dermatologist if you have severe or worsening dark armpits for proper treatment
Dark underarms can knock anyone’s confidence but with the right skin care regimen and treatments, you can safely lighten the area. Using gentler hair removal methods, reducing friction, applying lightening creams, and protecting from sun exposure helps tackle the problem.
While darkened armpits are purely a cosmetic issue, do get it evaluated by a doctor to rule out any underlying conditions. With diligent care and precautions, you can flaunt your beautiful underarms confidently again.
1. Can shaving cause dark underarms?
Yes, frequent shaving can irritate and inflame the underarms, leading to darkened skin over time. It’s best to limit shaving and opt for gentler methods.
2. How can I lighten my dark underarms fast?
Using lightening creams with ingredients like kojic acid, vitamin C, and alpha arbutin can help lighten dark underarms faster when applied daily.
3. Is lemon juice effective for lightening dark underarms?
Lemon juice can provide temporary lightening of underarms due to its citric acid content. However, its photosensitizing effect means it can potentially darken skin further with sun exposure.
4. Should I exfoliate my underarms if I have dark armpits?
Yes, regular exfoliation using a gentle scrub removes dead skin cells and speeds up cell turnover to reduce darkness. However, do not scrub too harshly.
5. Can deodorants or antiperspirants cause armpit darkening?
Yes, certain chemicals, perfumes, or aluminum in deodorants can potentially irritate and inflame the delicate underarm skin leading to pigmentation over time.