15 Home Remedies To Get Rid Of Dark Underarms

Medically Reviewed by Dr. Priya Gill, MBBCH, MRCP
By Swathi E, Certified Skin Care Coach

The skin in the underarm area is quite sensitive, making it vulnerable to rashes, discoloration, infection, ingrown hair, and even acne. Pigmentation or discoloration is a common complaint among both men and women and requires home remedies for dark underarms or cosmetic procedures to treat them. Of course, to know exactly how to get rid of dark armpits, you would have to pinpoint the underlying cause and then accordingly take focused steps.

For instance, hormonal imbalances, inappropriate shaving, and acanthosis nigricans (a skin ailment characterized by dark underarms and common amongst those with an underlying health condition like diabetes or obesity ) can cause darkening in the armpits. Armpit darkening can also be caused by deodorant or some drugs.

The dark color isn’t usually a reason for worry in itself. Some people, however, resent having dark underarms for cosmetic reasons and may want to pursue different ways to get rid of it, like moisturizing, using topical creams, employing natural therapies, or other interventions. In this article, we focus on and find the most effective home remedies that you can use to brighten your underarm areas.

What Causes Dark Armpits?

Dark underarms are mainly caused due to extended use of harsh chemicals (bleach, hair-removing creams, deodorants, antiperspirants, etc.). Excessive and long-term shaving can also lead to skin pigmentation and darkening of this area. Pregnancy also leads to pigmentation, although it clears up in a couple of months.

  • People with deeper skin tones are more susceptible to auxiliary darkening or underarm darkening because of the extra amounts of melanin in the body. Melanin is a protective pigment that shields the skin against UV rays.
  • Pregnancy and the hormonal imbalances caused by it can lead to pigmentation in the underarms (1)
    .
  • Another possible reason could be diabetes. Elevated insulin levels may cause a skin darkening condition called acanthosis nigricans (2).
  • Erythrasma, a chronic bacterial infection, is another little-known cause of pigmentation of the underarms (3).
  • Ingrown hair due to too much shaving can also make the underarms appear darker.

Dark underarms are often accompanied by other symptoms if it is caused by any of these underlying issues.

Symptoms Of Dark Underarms

The symptoms may change according to the underlying condition you have. The common symptoms that accompany dark underarms are:

  • Dryness
  • Soreness
  • Redness
  • Itching
  • Velvety texture

Though not a serious condition, dark underarms can make you feel self-conscious. Read on to find out how to treat them.

How To Get Rid Of Dark Underarms

Imagine there’s a wedding coming up that you must attend and that gorgeous sleeveless dress you wish to wear. But you don’t. Because of dark underarms. No more worries! Here are some home remedies for dark underarms. They are perfectly safe and have no side effects.

  1. Apple Cider Vinegar
  2. Aloe Vera
  3. Olive Oil
  4. Turmeric
  5. Castor Oil
  6. Tea Tree Oil
  7. Almond Oil
  8. Lemon Juice
  9. Cucumber
  10. Pumice Stone
  11. Sunflower Oil
  12. Multani Mitti
  13. Rosewater
  14. Potato Remedy
  15. Alum

Home Remedies For Dark Armpits

1. Apple Cider Vinegar For Dark Underarms

Image: Shutterstock

You Will Need
  • 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
What You Have To Do
  1. To the baking soda, add the vinegar and let the mix bubble.
  2. Once the bubbles have subsided, apply this mixture to the underarm area and let it dry.
  3. Rinse with cool water.
How Often You Should Do This

Repeat this thrice a week.

Why This Works

ACV contains mild acids that will remove the accumulated dead skin cells and also lighten the darkened underarm area. Additionally, it will also act as a disinfectant and kill the microbes present (4).

Caution

If you have sensitive skin, use one teaspoon ACV, one teaspoon water, and baking soda mix.

2. Aloe Vera For Dark Underarms

Image: Shutterstock

You Will Need

An aloe leaf

What You Have To Do
  1. Cut open the leaf and extract fresh aloe vera gel.
  2. Apply a layer of this gel to your underarms and let it sit for about 10-15 minutes.
  3. Rinse with water.

If you do not have an aloe plant at home, you can also use organic aloe vera gel.

How Often You Should Do This

Repeat this every alternate day.

Why This Works

Aloesin found in aloe vera gel is a tyrosinase inhibitor, an enzyme that is responsible for skin pigmentation. By hindering the activity of this enzyme, aloe vera can lighten discolored armpits (5).

3. Olive Oil For Dark Underarms

Image: Shutterstock

You Will Need
  • 2 tablespoons virgin olive oil
  • 2-3 tablespoons brown sugar
What You Have To Do
  1. Add the brown sugar to the oil and mix it gently.
  2. Dampen the underarm skin and apply the mixture.
  3. Scrub for a minute or two and leave it on for five minutes.
  4. Rinse with lukewarm water.
How Often You Should Do This

Do this twice a week until you get the desired results.

Why This Works

Olive oil is very hydrating and nourishing for the skin. It is also rich in antioxidants (6). The brown sugar acts as an exfoliant and will remove the dead skin cells that have accumulated and make your underarm skin darker.

4. Turmeric For Dark Underarms

Image: Shutterstock

You Will Need
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1 teaspoon honey (optional)
What You Have To Do
  1. Mix all the ingredients and apply the paste to the underarms.
  2. Let it dry for 10-12 minutes and then rinse.
How Often You Should Do This

Repeat this twice a week.

Why This Works

Turmeric is commonly used in face masks to lighten and brighten up the skin tone and also fade away spots. Regular application on the underarms will definitely lighten the dark skin (7), (8). Milk contains lactic acid, which aids in lightening the underarm skin (9).

Caution

Do not use this remedy if you are allergic to milk and milk products.

5. Castor Oil For Dark Underarms

Image: Shutterstock

You Will Need

1-2 teaspoons castor oil

What You Have To Do
  1. Rub the underarm area gently with castor oil for about five minutes.
  2. Shower as usual.
How Often You Should Do This

Use castor oil every day to lighten underarms.

Why This Works

Castor oil absorbs all the impurities present on your skin and even cleans out your pores. All the dirt, excess oil, and dead cells are removed to reveal lighter skin in your underarms (10). It is also an excellent skin conditioner (11).

6. Tea Tree Oil For Dark Underarms

Image: Shutterstock

You Will Need
  • 4-5 drops of tea tree oil
  • A cup of water
  • A small spray bottle
What You Have To Do
  1. Pour the water into the bottle, add the tea tree oil and shake it well.
  2. Spray this mixture on the underarms and let it dry naturally.
How Often You Should Do This

Use this daily.

Why This Works

Tea tree oil not only lightens the underarm skin but also keeps the area odor-free. The antioxidants present in this essential oil will keep your skin healthy. Its antimicrobial properties will kill the microbes present and deodorize the area (12).

Caution

Since tea tree oil is an essential oil, it is highly concentrated and can cause reactions in a few people. Do a patch test before you use it.

7. Almond Oil For Dark Underarms

Image: Shutterstock

You Will Need

A few drops of almond oil

What You Have To Do

Massage the underarm area with almond oil for 5-10 minutes.

How Often You Should Do This

Repeat this every day.

Why This Works

Almonds contain potent phytochemicals that may lighten the dark underarm skin. Eating almonds daily has also been found to lighten your skin naturally (13).

8. Lemon Juice For Dark Underarms

Image: Shutterstock

You Will Need

A lemon

What You Have To Do
  1. Cut the lemon into thick slices and scrub the underarms area with them for 2-3 minutes.
  2. Let the lemon juice stay on there for about 10 minutes before rinsing it off.
How Often You Should Do This

Use this remedy regularly 3-4 times a week.

Why This Works

Lemon juice has a high concentration of citric acid, which is a natural exfoliant and bleaching agent (14). It works as an excellent underarm bleaching agent.

[ Read: Smooth Under Arms and Hair Removal Techniques ]

9. Cucumber For Dark Underarms

Image: Shutterstock

You Will Need

2 cucumber slices

What You Have To Do
  1. Rub the cucumber slices on the dark armpits for a minute or two.
  2. Let the juice that has oozed out from the slice onto your skin stay there for another 10 minutes.
  3. Rinse with water.
How Often You Should Do This

Repeat this daily for best results.

Why This Works

Cucumber slices are often used to soothe eye bags and also to lighten under-eye dark circles. Though cucumber extract is said to have skin-lightening properties, there is not enough scientific evidence to prove the same. However, it does have a soothing and detoxifying effect on the skin (15).

10. Pumice Stone For Dark Underarms

Image: Shutterstock

You Will Need

Pumice stone

What You Have To Do

Wet the pumice stone and gently scrub the underarms for a few minutes before taking a shower.

How Often You Should Do This

Do this twice or thrice a week.

Why This Works

This naturally occurring stone has been used as an exfoliant for centuries. It will help in removing the darkened layer of the skin.

Caution

Don’t be too zealous while scrubbing as it might cause further abrasions, and you certainly don’t want to walk around like a scarecrow for the next few days.

11. Sunflower Oil For Dark Underarms

Image: Shutterstock

You Will Need

A few drops of sunflower oil

What You Have To Do
  1. Massage the armpits with sunflower oil for a minute or two.
  2. Leave the oil for 15-20 minutes and then rinse with warm water.
How Often You Should Do This

Repeat this twice a day for best results.

Why This Works

This oil has a high vitamin E content which helps in keeping the skin fresh and radiant. It also hydrates the skin and improves the skin barrier (16).

12. Multani Mitti For Dark Underarms

Image: Shutterstock

You Will Need
  • 2 tablespoons multani mitti (Fuller’s Earth)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • Water
What You Have To Do
  1. Add the lemon juice and enough water to the multani mitti powder to get a smooth paste.
  2. Apply this to the underarms and rinse after 10 minutes.
How Often You Should Do This

Apply a multani mitti pack twice a week.

Why This Works

Multani mitti is a natural clay that 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.

Caution

Fuller’s earth mask may not suit sensitive skin.

13. Rosewater For Dark Underarms

Image: Shutterstock

You Will Need
  • Rosewater
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda
What You Have To Do
  1. Make a thick paste with the ingredients and apply it to the underarms.
  2. Leave it on for about 5-7 minutes and then rinse with cool water.
How Often You Should Do This

Repeat this twice a week.

Why This Works

Rosewater possesses multiple skin benefits such as skin brightening, soothing, moisturizing, balancing the skin’s pH, and fighting inflammation (17). Baking soda acts as an exfoliant in this remedy.

14. Potato Remedy For Dark Underarms

Image: Shutterstock

You Will Need

A small potato

What You Have To Do
  1. Peel the potato and grate it.
  2. Squeeze out the juice from this and apply it directly to the armpits.
  3. Rinse the juice off after 10-15 minutes.
How Often You Should Do This

You can repeat this twice a day as well until desired results are obtained.

Why This Works

Potato is your savior for dark armpits as it is a natural bleach and anti-irritant. It will also provide instant relief from patchiness and itchiness that may develop due to pigmentation. However, there is not enough scientific evidence to prove the same.

15. Alum For Dark Underarms

Image: Shutterstock

You Will Need
  • 1-2 teaspoons alum powder
  • Water
What You Have To Do
  1. Make alum paste and apply it to the underarms for 10-15 minutes before taking a shower.
  2. Shower as usual.
How Often You Should Do This

Use this remedy once or twice a week.

Why This Works

Alum disinfects the skin and also balances the skin’s pH. All the harmful microbes that are responsible for itchiness and sweating (which cause dark armpits) are eliminated. Additionally, alum can detoxify the skin and relieve itching (18).

Caution

Alum may not suit everybody. Do a patch test before using it on the underarms.

These home remedies can be used by themselves or in combinations to get optimum results in a short period. If you are unsure about any of the ingredients, do a patch test or consult your physician before using them.

Since dark underarms can also be a symptom for underlying medical conditions, you may have to consult a doctor for other treatment options.

Other Medication Treatments For Dark Underarms

The medical treatments available to lighten dark underarms include:

  • Retinoid creams
  • Retinoid pills
  • Chemical peels
  • Vitamin D-based creams
  • Topical antibiotics and creams

Laser therapy and microdermabrasion can also help reduce the darkness of the underarms. Also, if the dark underarms are due to any underlying issues, you must get diagnosed and start the treatment accordingly.

When Should You Consult A Doctor?

Dark underarms are not a cause for concern. But since they can be caused due to conditions like diabetes, it is best to consult a doctor if the issue persists. Also, if you notice a sudden change in your skin color or fresh dark patches on your skin, consult a doctor immediately as it may be a sign of other medical issues.

The Bottom Line

Hormonal imbalances, improper shaving, and acanthosis nigricans (a skin condition) are some of the causes of dark underarms. Using strong chemicals over an extended period may also result in dark underarms. The skin in this area is delicate and prone to discoloration, rashes, ingrown hairs, infection, and acne. To get rid of dark armpits, try the home remedies mentioned in this article. These home remedies are safe and have minimum side effects. You may try these home treatments alone or with other remedies to achieve optimum results.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are dark armpits normal?

No. Dark armpits are not normal, as the underarm area should be the same tone as the rest of the skin. However, dark armpits are common and may be caused due to various factors such as lack of exfoliation, hyperpigmentation or underlying medical issues.

Does toothpaste remove dark underarms?

Anecdotal evidence suggests that certain white toothpaste may be able to bleach and hence, remove dark underarms. However, there is a lack of scientific research on the efficacy of toothpaste in reducing dark underarms.

How long does it take to lighten underarms with baking soda?

It may take upto a few months to lighten underarms with baking soda, if the dark underarms aren’t caused due to underlying health issues.

Key Takeaways

  • Harsh chemicals, long-term shaving, pregnancy, excess melanin in the body, bacterial infection, diabetes, and ingrown hair can cause dark underarms.
  • Home remedies like aloe vera, castor oil, tea tree oil, potato, and Fuller’s earth can help lighten dark underarms.
  • There are also medical treatments like retinoid creams, chemical peels, and laser therapies available to get rid of dark underarms.
  • However, consult a dermatologist if you notice a change in skin color in other parts of the body.

Sources

Articles on StyleCraze are backed by verified information from peer-reviewed and academic research papers, reputed organizations, research institutions, and medical associations to ensure accuracy and relevance. Read our editorial policy to learn more.

  1. Extensive hyperpigmentation during pregnancy: a case report
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3183040/
  2. Acanthosis Nigricans
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK431057/
  3. Erythrasma
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK513352/
  4. Vinegar: Medicinal Uses and Antiglycemic Effect
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1785201/
  5. Mechanisms Regulating Skin Pigmentation: The Rise and Fall of Complexion Coloration
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2769151/
  6. Anti-Inflammatory and Skin Barrier Repair Effects of Topical Application of Some Plant Oils
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5796020/
  7. Turmeric, the Golden Spice
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK92752/
  8. Beneficial role of curcumin in skin diseases
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17569219/
  9. Milk Proteins—Their Biological Activities and Use in Cosmetics and Dermatology
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8197926/
  10. Dirt-binding particles consisting of hydrogenated castor oil beads constitute a nonirritating alternative for abrasive cleaning of recalcitrant oily skin contamination in a three-step programme of occupational skin protection
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19995365/
  11. Final report on the safety assessment of Ricinus Communis (Castor) Seed Oil, Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Glyceryl Ricinoleate, Glyceryl Ricinoleate SE, Ricinoleic Acid, Potassium Ricinoleate, Sodium Ricinoleate, Zinc Ricinoleate, Cetyl Ricinoleate, Ethyl Ricinoleate, Glycol Ricinoleate, Isopropyl Ricinoleate, Methyl Ricinoleate, and Octyldodecyl Ricinoleate https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18080873/
  12. Melaleuca alternifolia (Tea Tree) Oil: a Review of Antimicrobial and Other Medicinal Properties
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1360273/
  13. Prospective Randomized Controlled Trial on the Effects of Almonds on Facial Wrinkles and Pigmentation
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33673587/
  14. The Hunt for Natural Skin Whitening Agents
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2801997/
  15. Phytochemical and therapeutic potential of cucumber
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23098877/
  16. Effect of olive and sunflower seed oil on the adult skin barrier: implications for neonatal skin care
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22995032/
  17. Skin anti‐inflammatory activity of rose petal extract (Rosa gallica) through reduction of MAPK signaling pathway
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6261181/
  18. An Experimental Study of the Anti-oxidant and the Anti-inflammatory Effects of Alum and Burnt Alum
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4331937/
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Swathi has a postgraduate degree in English literature from The English And Foreign Languages University, Hyderabad, and a diploma in... more

Dr. Priya Gill

(MBBCH, MRCP)
Dr. Priya Gill is a consultant dermatologist in Klang, Malaysia. She specializes in the management of all medical and surgical... more

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