Itchy armpits can be quite uncomfortable and embarrassing. Dark, moist, and warm armpits are the ideal breeding grounds for fungi and bacteria that cause rashes. In most cases, the constant itching and irritation can become unbearable.
A lot of factors can lead to these rashes. In this article, we will tell you more about armpit rashes and the different ways you can treat them.
In This Article
Armpit Rashes: Types And Causes
If your armpits are itchy and appear reddish for hours, you may have a rash. It could be caused by an allergic reaction (to deodorant chemicals or others) or an underlying infection. Sometimes, even the skin surfaces around your armpits rubbing against each other can cause the rash.
Armpit rashes are of different types.
This is the rash that occurs wherever you have skin folds, including the armpits. It is caused as a result of the skin rubbing against itself. Chafing is characterized by the following signs:
- Stinging and burning sensation
- Swelling (in severe cases, skin may crack and bleed)
- The top layer of the skin appears rubbed off.
This is more common in summers or when you wear tight clothes.
2. Atopic Dermatitis (Eczema)
This is a chronic condition in which your skin is inflamed. It occurs mostly in the skin folds, including the armpits, areas behind the knees, and inner elbows (where the skin folds). The signs include:
- Bleeding (only if it is severe)
- Oozing fluid when scratched
Eczema can also cause flare-ups several times during the year, and the rashes may last for a week.
3. Allergic Contact Dermatitis
This is your skin reacting to antiperspirants or deodorants or other external allergens. The chemicals may irritate your armpits, causing redness, itchiness, small bumps, and a stinging sensation. In severe cases, you may even get blisters.
4. Seborrheic Dermatitis
This is when the excess sebum your skin produces causes patches and rashes. These usually appear oily and flaky. These rashes are more common in infants and can appear in their armpits, ears, scalp, or the face.
Candida is a skin infection that is most commonly caused by Candida albicans, a species of yeast. These breed in moist and warm parts of your body, including the armpits. The signs of candida include:
- Redness and rashes
Tight clothes, hot/humid weather, or poor skin hygiene can be the contributing factors. Certain steroid creams can also exacerbate the infection.
6. Tinea Corporis (Ringworm)
Tinea corporis is a fungal infection affecting the topmost layer of your skin, causing a red rash with raised borders.
Erythrasma is caused by bacteria called Corynebacterium minutissimum. It can affect your armpits, the groin area, and the area under your breasts. The rash looks reddish and is accompanied by wrinkles. Usually, doctors treat this rash with erythromycin.
The skin folds are the most common spots for an infection. But these are treatable with OTC medications and some effective home remedies.
Tips To Treat Armpit Rashes
When you spot a rash, visit the doctor first and understand the type of infection you have. The doctor may suggest medications and topical ointments (based on the type of rashes) like:
- Hydrocortisone creams (0.5-1.0%)
- Antihistamine medications
- OTC calamine lotions and creams
- Antifungal gels, creams, lotions, and spray
If your armpit rash is a result of a chronic condition, like eczema, the doctor may suggest certain prescription medications including:
- Steroid creams
- PDE4 inhibitors
- Topical corticosteroids
Apart from these medications, you may also try certain home remedies for relief. Do keep in mind that these remedies do not have direct scientific research backing them up. We do not have enough studies to prove their effectiveness in treating armpit rashes.
Potential Home Remedies To Treat Armpit Rashes
1. Virgin Coconut Oil
Virgin coconut oil has a soothing and moisturizing effect on the skin and is said to improve symptoms of skin disorders (1).
Massage a few drops of the oil on the affected area. Leave it on for at least 30 minutes and then wash with lukewarm water.
2. Topical Vitamin B12
Topical Vitamin B12 cream was found to help reduce the severity of atopic dermatitis (2). Though it is not known if it can have similar therapeutic effects on armpit rashes, it can be worth a try.
Remember to check with your doctor, though.
3. Ice Cubes
Placing ice cubes on the skin can have a numbing effect. You can also relieve itchy rashes by applying ice cubes to them. The resultant relief can also keep you from scratching the rashes and aggravating them.
4. Citrus Extracts
Citrus extracts or pomace (whatever remains after pressing and extracting the juice and pulp) are shown to have antibacterial and antimicrobial activities (3). You may apply citrus (orange or lemon or any citrus fruit) juice or extracts on the affected area.
To use citrus extract, extract the pulp or juice of any citrus fruit and mix it with water. Apply to the affected area. You may rub the leftover pulp on the affected area. Leave it on for a few minutes and then wash with plain water.
5. Apple Cider Vinegar
People usually use apple cider vinegar on the skin for its pore-tightening and skin-soothing effects. You may use it to soothe itchy and irritating armpit rashes as well.
Dilute a tablespoon of ACV in half a cup of water. Use a cotton ball to apply the mixture to the rash. Leave it on for at least 30 minutes and then wash with plain water.
6. Sunflower Oil
According to the National Eczema Association, sunflower oil can help treat eczema by improving the skin barrier and reducing inflammation (4). You may try using sunflower oil for soothing and calming your armpit rash.
Take a few drops of the oil and gently massage on the affected area. Leave it on for 15-30 minutes and then wash with plain water.
7. Shea Butter
Shea butter is known for its moisturizing ability. It soothes flakiness and itchiness and calms your skin. You may apply shea butter to on the affected area for relief.
Massage a little of the butter on the affected area. You can leave it on for 30 minutes and then wash with plain water.
8. Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil has antimicrobial and antiseptic properties (5). It can help soothe your rash and reduce irritation.
Mix 10 drops of tea tree oil with two tablespoons of coconut oil. Massage the mixture gently on the affected area. Leave it on for 15-30 minutes and then wash with plain water.
9. Chamomile Tea Bag
Chamomile tea bags feel soothing on the skin. They can help minimize itching and irritation.
Boil the tea bags in water for a few minutes. Leave them to cool down a bit. Apply the cold tea bags to the affected area as a compress.
You don’t have to take all this trouble if you know how to prevent armpit rashes in the first place. Let’s now take a look at the preventive measures.
Preventing Armpit Rashes
1. Practice Good Hygiene
Take a bath regularly using a mild shower gel. After bathing, dry yourself thoroughly. Even if you are using a towel, try to air dry the body folds before you dress up.
2. Know What Irritates Your Skin
It can be a particular deodorant or a roll-on antiperspirant or any other personal care product. If you notice that a specific product or ingredient (such as products containing alcohol) is giving you rashes, stop using it right away.
3. Avoid Tight Clothes
Wearing tight clothes made of synthetic fabric may often cause armpit rashes. Such clothes cannot allow sweat to escape, making it accumulate in the armpits. Wear soft fabrics made of cotton. They let your skin and armpits breathe.
4. Use Anti-Chafing Powder
The rashes you develop in your armpits are more often just heat rashes. They occur when the weather is hot and humid. Applying anti-chafing powder to your armpits keeps your skin from rubbing against itself. You can also try staying in a cool, air-conditioned place more often.
Proper care can keep rashes from worsening and also prevent them. If not, they may develop into a chronic rash. Please visit your doctor if you experience the following:
- Rashes accompanied by high fever
- Blisters on the affected area
- Rashes spreading to other parts of the body
- Swelling and pain in the affected area
- Rashes that ooze pus, blood, and fluid
- Rashes that do not respond to home remedies and OTC medicines
- Rashes that are tender, swollen, and red
- Rashes accompanied by vomiting, nausea, and dizziness
Do not neglect the signs your body gives you. Take good care of your skin, and you will not have to suffer.
Did you ever experience armpit rashes before? What care did you take? Do share your thoughts with us by leaving a comment in the box below. You can also post your questions, and we will get back to you.
- “In vitro anti-inflammatory and skin protective properties of Virgin coconut oil” Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine, ScienceDirect.
- “Topical vitamin B12–a new therapeutic approach in atopic dermatitis-evaluation of efficacy and tolerability in a randomized placebo-controlled multicentre clinical trial” The British Journal of Dermatology, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- “Antimicrobial and Antibiofilm Activities of Citrus Water-Extracts Obtained by Microwave-Assisted and Conventional Methods” Biomedicines, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- “Natural and Alternative Treatments for Eczema, What Works, What Doesn’t”
National Eczema Association.
- “Melaleuca alternifolia (Tea Tree) Oil: a Review of Antimicrobial and Other Medicinal Properties” Clinical Microbiology Reviews, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.