Dark underarms? Here is what you need to know
Dr. Sneha Ganatra
July 15, 2020
Ideally, your underarms should be of the same colour as the rest of the body but underarm skin is very sensitive and can have multiple problems such as rashes, infection, acne or ingrown hair. The most common complaint raised by both men and women is hyperpigmentation of the area and many women suffer from embarrassment as their armpits are several shades darker and restrict them from wearing sleeveless garments. It is frustrating for many and also affects their self-confidence. The colour of the skin is determined by a pigment called ‘melanin’. When this multiplies, it leads to darker skin colouration. Underarms is an area which is mostly neglected and not taken care of well.
There can be various reasons that lead to darker underarms, let’s look at the most common ones:
- Chemical irritants: Deodorants and antiperspirants consist of chemicals that irritate the sensitive skin and cause the discolouration.
- Shaving: Frequent shaving of the area causes friction and inflammation in the area leading to increased production of the skin cells that causes darker skin colour.
- Melasma: It is characterized by hyperpigmentation of the skin as a result of hormonal changes such as in pregnancy or use of oral contraceptive drugs.
- Lack of exfoliation: Dead skin cells accumulation can also darken the skin due to lack of exfoliation.
- Acanthosis nigricans: It’s a skin pigmentation disorder, characterized by dark patches of skin with a thick, velvety texture. The affected areas of skin may also itch or have an unpleasant odour. It is commonly seen in people who are obese and have diabetes.
- Smoking: Chronic smoking causes smoking melanosis; which is a condition causing hyperpigmentation. Dark patches appear in areas such as underarms as long as smoking continues.
- Addison’s disease: It is a medical condition in which adrenal glands are damaged. Addison’s disease causes hyper-pigmentation which results in darkening of the skin that hasn’t been exposed to the sun such as underarms.
- Erythrasma: It is a bacterial infection that affects in the areas of skin folds which initially appears as pink patches and then turn into brown scales.
- Tight clothing: This can lead to frequent friction in the armpits leading to its darkening.
- Excessive Perspiration: Sweating heavily and poor ventilation in the armpits can be a culprit to dark underarms.
How to prevent and treat dark underarms?
There are some basic tips one should immediately follow to address the issue of dark underarms:
- Quit shaving and using hair removal creams should be avoided. Opt for waxing or laser hair removal instead.
- Change your deodorant/ antiperspirant: Check the label of your deodorant for any harmful chemicals, or switch to natural alternatives and quit deodorants all together.
- Wear loose-fitting clothes
- Just the way we exfoliate our facial skin, exfoliating the underarm skin is equally important. Use of exfoliating scrubs or detoxifying masks can help remove accumulated dead skin cells.
- Stop smoking
There are many natural ways that can help lighten the skin of the underarms. You can try some of these below and check out which one works for you the best. It is best to do a patch test first i.e. try it on a small area and check if doesn’t irritate the skin.
- Lemon juice: Few drops of lemon juice acts as an antibacterial and antiseptic agent, exfoliating the skin making the skin lighter due to its natural bleaching properties.
- Tomato juice: The natural bleaching properties of tomato help to reduce the discolouration which results in underarm lightening.
- Aloe Vera: Aloe vera’s antibacterial nature and the aloesin pigment in it soothes the inflamed skin and lightens discoloured armpits.
- Turmeric: Curcumin is an antioxidant found in turmeric. And all antioxidants help lighten the skin tone. Turmeric is considered as one of the most effective natural remedies for skin lightening.
- Vitamin E oil: Dryness in the underarm area can lead to pigmentation. Oils such as almond oil or coconut oil are known for its moisturizing properties and are rich in vitamin E helping the skin regain its lost moisture.
- Cucumbers: Cucumbers are filled with several vitamins and minerals, and are known to have excellent bleaching properties. They are popularly used for dark under underarms and eye circles.
- Fuller’s earth: Also known as Multani Mitti, absorbs impurities from the skin and decongests all clogged pores. It also helps in exfoliating the dead skin cells, leading to the lightening of the underarms.
- Potato: The juice extracted from a grated potato can help lighten the underarms as it acts as a natural bleach and may help itchiness as well.
There are various topical creams and ointments your dermatologist can prescribe for lightening the underarms. They mostly contain hydroquinone, tretinoin, corticosteroids or azelaic acid. One can also opt for laser treatment to get rid of hyperpigmentation. Chemical peels, dermabrasion or microdermabrasion are some of the other procedures for lightening the skin. You should discuss the best procedure along with any possible side-effects with your dermatologist before deciding.