Dark Underarms

A dark underarm is a skin condition that is caused due to a number of reasons. This dark pigmentation of the underarms can be very embarrassing and prevents people from wearing sleeveless or revealing clothes. Dark underarms are also known as Acanthosis Nigricans and can be attributed to factors such as various lifestyle choices and health factors. The best way to treat dark underarms is to determine the underlying cause first.

Symptoms of Dark Underarms

Naturally, the main symptom of dark underarms is the presence of darkened skin in the armpit area. This discoloration can vary up to several shades darker than your normal skin tone and can thus be very prominent and for many people embarrassing as well. In addition to the pigmentation of the region, other symptoms include itchiness, excessive perspiration, and bad body odor. Due to the itchiness, there can also be redness, sensitive skin, and further discoloration due to excessive scratching.

Causes of Dark Underarms

There are several health and lifestyle factors that can cause dark underarms. These include:

  • Shaving your underarms regularly can cause the skin to darken. This happens as shaving merely cuts off the hair at the surface of the skin and the area tends to look darker than the normal skin tone due to the dark hair just below the skin surface.
  • If you do not maintain proper levels of hygiene, there is a tendency for dead skin and cells to accumulate in the underarms. This can cause dark spots and bumps on the skin when the dead cells then get trapped under the skin. Regular exfoliation is required to prevent this from happening.
  • Some ingredients in commercially available deodorants and perfumes could cause pigmentation of the skin. Shaving gels and soaps could also cause a skin irritation in the area and lead to darkening of the underarms.
  • A medical condition known as acanthosis nigricans could be responsible for dark underarms. This condition leads to dark marks forming on the body. Most of the pigmentation is found around the underarms, the groin and inner thigh and the neck. Acanthosis nigricans is associated with people who are obese, having a problem with their glandular functioning, and who suffer from type 2 diabetes. A high level of insulin can cause an overproduction of skin cells that can result in pigmentation. Acanthosis nigricans may be inherited or develop because of medications such as certain oral contraceptives. A hormonal imbalance or disorders of the endocrine system can also lead to this condition.
  • Friction caused by tight clothes, rough and synthetic fabrics. These cause constant chaffing and discoloration of the sensitive skin in the underarm area.
  • Excessive sweating can cause bacteria to be trapped in the skin of the underarms and result in pigmentation of the area.
  • A bacterium called Corynebacterium is responsible for excessive sweating and bad odor. Some experts suggest that this bacterium may be responsible for development of dark underarms as well.

Remedies for Dark Underarms

Darkening of the underarms is not a serious medical condition and unless it occurs as a symptom or as the fallout from some other health condition, it does not warrant medical treatment. As dark underarms pose no health risk, it may be a good idea to experiment with some home remedies first. Keep in mind that most home remedies are not the subject of scientific research, so their results could vary greatly:

  • Experts suggest that the best treatment for darkened armpits is lemon. Simply rub a slice or piece of fresh lemon on the pigmented area for an easy and safe way to lighten the skin.
  • Vitamin E oil applied to the dark skin is another effective black underarm treatment. Vitamin E oil also improves the softness and smoothness of the skin making it healthier looking and less rough.
  • Try baking soda or alum directly applied to the underarms instead of deodorants or anti-perspirants. It absorbs extra moisture and prevents the area from developing a foul odor.
  • Another armpit whitening home remedy is coconut oil. Simply rub a small amount of coconut oil daily on the darkened skin. You will see a change in the skin tone over time.
  • Pure sandalwood powder mixed with rose water and applied to the underarms in the form of a paste helps prevent body odor and is an excellent underarm whitening remedy.
  • You can also try making a paste out of lime juice and cucumber juice mixed together with a pinch of turmeric powder. This is a traditional ayurvedic black underarms remedy and has been used down the ages to treat this embarrassing problem. The acidic properties of the lime juice absorbs extra moisture and sweat in the underarm area and gets rid of any build up of dead cells an skin that can cause darkening. The cucumber juice on the other hand works as a cooling agent to reduce itching and skin irritations while the turmeric powder prevents discoloration.
  • Many people want to know how to make underarms fair. An easy and economical way to do so is to use potato juice on the darkened areas of the skin. Potatoes are a natural bleaching agent and are very effective in lightening the skin tone without any harmful side effects. Similarly, raw tomato slices rubbed onto darkened skin can lighten the pigmentation naturally as well.
  • Home remedies for dark underarms include making your own skin cream to treat the darkening and itching. For a simple recipe, mix a little water with three drops each of olive oil, jojoba oil, wheat germ oil, and any citrus oil of your choice. Shake well before applying the mixture to the affected areas of the skin. The vitamins and fatty acids in these oils act as natural moisturizers to keep the skin healthy and smooth. The citrus oils help bleach the skin to a lighter shade without being too harsh on the delicate skin of the underarms. Use this oil mix every day for the best results.
  • An herbal black underarms remedy involves the use of licorice root extract mixed with aspen extract and raspberry extract to lighten the skin and heal the area. The medicinal properties of these herbal extracts stimulate the production of a compound called pheomelanin in the skin. This helps lighten the darkened skin of the underarms without any harmful side effects.
  • Herbal supplements such as cinnamon capsules or fenugreek should be had every day to treat darkened underarms.
  • If regular shaving is causing the dark skin, apply a mixture of lemon juice and granulated sugar to the underarms and leave it on to dry for about fifteen to twenty minutes. Then scrub the underarms with some more sugar. This works as an excellent exfoliator for the skin and lightens the skin tone as well.
  • There are also several skin lightening beauty products available in the market today. These products range from creams, lotions and skin bleaches and most contain ingredients that lighten skin and strip off the outer dead layer of skin cells. Prices vary from moderate to expensive and results are not guaranteed.
  • A cosmetic surgeon can help with darkened underarm skin if you are not finding success with any other natural or home remedies. Laser treatments can lighten skin tone and get rid of scars and freckles but past results have been inconsistent. This option is also very expensive so should be considered only if nothing else has worked. Shop around before choosing your cosmetic surgeon and always look for one who has training and adequate experience in the field.

Diet for Dark Underarms

Your diet has little bearing on the development of darkened skin on the underarms, and it is unlikely to affect the outcome of any treatment. This said, it wouldn’t hurt to follow a healthy balanced diet, as this would help to improve the health of your skin and also boost immunity.

Suggestion for Dark Underarms

Following are some steps you can take to prevent dark underarms from developing:

  • Instead of store-bought deodorants or anti-perspirants, use talcum powder or anti-fungal powder.
  • Wax underarms rather than shaving. This softens the skin by removing the layer of dead cells as well. If you are unable to wax, shave closely with a new blade every time and apply an antiseptic and anti-microbial cream to the area after shaving. This prevents ingrown hairs and skin rashes and further skin discoloration.
  • Exfoliate the area regularly and keep the skin dry and clean at all times. Shower often especially when the weather is hot as it is the build up of bacteria that causes pigmentation and bad body odor and not just sweat.
  • Hair removal creams should be avoided at all costs as they contain harsh chemicals that can cause an adverse skin reaction in many people. When used over long periods of time, these products can cause permanent damage to the sensitive skin of the underarms.

Dark Underarms - Frequently asked questions
6 Dark Underarms remedies suggested by our users
suggested by Sonia on Thursday, March 20, 2008

I had dark underarms for such a long time, at first I thought I was the only one with this problem, I even went to a dermatologist and was told that I had no problem at all (needless to say I never been back to the dermatologist). I know how embarrassing it is to have dark underarms, never mind the fact that you can not wear anything short sleeve or sleeveless. After so much researching I went to Sephora to purchase a skin exfoliator, a Sephora salesperson told me that   has a product called Dermadoctor Total nonscents ultra-gentle brightening antiperspirant. I have been using it less than a month and what a difference!!! I exfoliate to get rid of any dead skin and then I apply the deodorant, my armpits went from black to light brown in such a short time. Once you reach the desire skin tone, Sephora has a deodorant that you could switch to; it is very mild, antifungal, antibacterial, antiperspirant. Just wanted to share this information with everyone, if it doesn't work for you Sephora will take back any of their products no questions asked, so you can't go wrong. Good luck. Jersey girl.

dark armpit
suggested by Lorna on Tuesday, September 11, 2007

I used to have a dark armpit and hated to wear sleeveless tops, but I discovered a cream called Chin Chun Su and after using it for 2 wks I saw the changes and I recommend it to anyone with the same problem. It is only bought at oriental stores and I can get it for you for $5.00, try it!

Acanthosis Nigricans Causes Dark Underarms
suggested by Laury on Thursday, May 3, 2007

Acanthosis Nigricans is a disorder that may begin at any age. It causes velvety, light-brown-to-black, markings usually on the neck, under the arms or in the groin. Acanthosis nigricans is most often associated with obesity. Eating too much of the wrong foods, especially starches and sugars, can cause insulin resistance. This will result in elevated insulin levels. Most patients with acanthosis nigricans have a higher insulin level than those of the same weight without acanthosis nigricans. Elevated levels of insulin in most cases probably cause acanthosis nigricans. The elevated insulin levels in the body activates insulin receptors in the skin, forcing it to grow abnormally. Reducing the circulating insulin by dieting or medication can lead to improvement of the skin problem. When acanthosis nigricans develops in people who are not overweight, a medical work-up should be done. Rarely acanthosis nigricans is associated with a tumor, most commonly of the stomach or gut. In these cases acanthosis can bee seen in extra places, such as the lips or hands and is unusually severe. Occasionally acanthosis nigricans is congenital or due to an endocrine (glandular) disorder. Treatment to just improve the appearance includes Retin-A, 20% urea, alpha hydroxyacids, and lactic or salicylic acid prescriptions.

Dark stainings under your arms
suggested by lisa on Sunday, April 22, 2007

If you have dark staining under your arms and around the base of your neck, please go get your blood sugar checked. These skin discolorations can be symptoms of type II diabetes...which millions of people don't know they have.

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