There are many reasons for someone to experience itchy underarms, and oftentimes itchy armpits occur with no sign of a rash. Overall, itchy armpits aren’t a serious condition, but being in a crowd of people with a strong desire to start scratching your underarms can be annoying – embarrassing much? So let us help you rid yourself from the itchy sensation and help you understand the causes, symptoms, treatments, and home remedies for itchy underarms.
Generally, the armpit is not the first area of study when it comes to learning about the human body. It is a hallow area of skin that grows hair – this much we know for sure. The armpit is located directly below the shoulder joints and contains several blood vessels and lymph nodes along with hair follicles and sweat glands.
The most you think about your armpits is when you put deodorant on in the morning or when you bathe yourself, but we’re here to shed some light on a real armpit concern – itchy armpits.
There are at least 19 different reasons as to why your underarm may itch – many of them harmless, but some do require medical attention.
Lack of hygiene: Because your underarms sweat, without proper hygiene the growing bacteria can cause irritation and itchiness. Washing under your arms, especially after excessive sweating, can help reduce armpit itching.
Laundry detergent: If you are sensitive to the ingredients in laundry detergent, you may find your armpits itch as a result. You may have to switch laundry detergents for one with fewer chemicals.
Improper shaving: Using a dull razor, dry-shaving, or shaving too often can result in itchy bumps under the armpit. Always use a shaving cream and ensure your razor is sharp enough so you are not going over the area numerous times.
Intertrigo: Intertrigo is a rash that occurs anywhere where there are skin folds. The armpit becomes red and itchy, and the skin may become cracked and even ooze out a foul-smelling odor. If left untreated, intertrigo can develop into a bacterial or fungal infection. Poor hygiene, diabetes, and obesity can contribute to intertrigo.
Miliaria rubra: This is a common condition caused by a heat rash and is commonly seen in individuals on bed rest or those exposed to hot and humid climate. This condition is commonly caused by blocked sweat glands with trapped-in sweat.
Axillary dermatitis: This is caused by allergens coming into contact with the skin, causing a reaction or rash.
Axillary folliculitis: This occurs when a hair follicle in the underarm becomes infected by bacteria. In most cases, this condition can heal on its own, but in some cases, medical intervention may be required.
Axillary hyperhidrosis: This is a sweat gland disorder that prompts the armpits to produce too much sweat. It is not fully understood what causes axillary hyperhidrosis, but it may be associated with the body’s fight-or-flight response.
Axillary lymphadenopathy: The lymph nodes located in the armpits become enlarged, which may result from a benign disease.
Hidradenitis suppurativa: This condition affects the sweat glands and consists of a cluster of cysts and abscesses. When an abscess bursts, it may not heal or take a long time to heal, causing irritation and itchiness.
Tinea axillaris: This is ringworm of the armpit, which is a fungal infection. It is most common in individuals with axillary hyperhidrosis due to excess sweating.
Candida yeast infection: An overgrowth of yeast in a moist area can cause candida yeast infection in the armpit.
Deodorants and antiperspirants: Even though deodorants and antiperspirants are intended to keep us fresh, they can lead to itchy armpits, too. These products clog the sweat glands, leading to blackheads and abscesses.
Pregnancy: Not common but still a possibility – some pregnant women will experience itchy armpits, which can be attributed to changes in hormones. Skin conditions during pregnancy can result in itchy armpits, too.
Cancer: Some cancers, like breast cancer, can cause a symptom of itchy armpits, but this is very rare.
Keratosis pilaris: This is due to excess keratin, which causes pimple-like bumps in the underarm along with other areas of the body. Generally, keratosis pilaris doesn’t require treatment, and home remedies are enough to fix it.
Fox-Fordyce disease: Small itchy bumps clog the sweat glands. The condition is treated similarly to hidradenitis suppurativa.
Dry itchy armpits or xerosis: Dry skin can cause itchy armpits, along with flaky skin, peeling, and scaling.
The primary symptom of itchy armpit is, well, itchiness, of course! But alternative symptoms can also arise, depending on the cause of your itchy underarms. Some of those other symptoms that can be experienced with itchy armpits are cough, fever, or chills, tenderness or pain, joint stiffness and pain, runny nose, sore throat, and sweating.
Symptoms that coexist with itchy armpits that could signal a more life-threatening condition are changes in the levels of consciousness or alertness, like passing out or unresponsiveness, fever and chills, joint pain and stiffness, respiratory or breathing problems (such as shortness of breath, difficulty breathing or inability to breathe, labored breathing, wheezing, or choking), sudden swelling of the face, lips, or tongue, tightness or constriction in the throat, and worsening of symptoms despite treatment.
By paying close attention to your accompanying symptoms, you can help your doctor narrow in on what’s really going on.
In many cases, itchy underarms are accompanied by a rash, but there are also many times when your armpits itch and there is no rash in sight. Common triggers of itchy armpits without a rash include excessive sweating, fever, weight loss, fatigue, dry skin, and swollen lymph nodes.
Treatment for itchy armpits with no rash depends on the underlying causes. Possible treatments include taking antihistamines or cortisone ointments for itchy armpits caused by allergy, applying topical creams with or without steroids, avoiding deodorant or antiperspirants, using medicated soap, avoiding scented or fragranced soaps, and wearing loose-fitting, breathing clothes to allow the armpits to breathe.
For some individuals, they can go all day with no urge to itch, but then the feeling strikes them at night. This can be a real nuisance as it can take away from your sleeping hours. Women experience itchy armpits at night more so than men, and some causes could be infrequent showering, warm temperatures, and even a reaction to the fabrics of your sheets, pyjamas, or to the laundry detergent.
There are numerous reasons for itchy armpits, so the treatment is specific to the underlying cause. For example, if itchy armpits result from poor hygiene, improving your routine will improve itchy armpits. The same goes for the allergy to laundry detergent – try a different product.
Some other treatment methods include antifungal medications for fungal causes, topical creams, and antihistamines, avoiding allergens, changing deodorants or antiperspirants, wearing loose-fitting and breathable clothing, relaxing and reducing stress, avoiding itching the area, not shaving for a few days and using proper shaving techniques, and using cold and hot compresses. Speak to your doctor in case you need a prescription treatment.
The goal is to uncover the trigger that is causing your itchy underarms. This ways you can find the most suitable treatment method to offer you quick and easy relief.