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Dark Underarms: Expert Tips for Lightening and Care

CEO Tinh Phung
The skin in our underarms is delicate and often neglected, leading to issues like rashes, pimples, ingrown hair, and infections. In addition, both men and women may experience dark or hyperpigmented underarms. While it's not...

The skin in our underarms is delicate and often neglected, leading to issues like rashes, pimples, ingrown hair, and infections. In addition, both men and women may experience dark or hyperpigmented underarms. While it's not a medical problem, it can cause cosmetic concerns. Luckily, there are various medical treatments, home remedies, and self-care tips that can help achieve an even skin tone. Let's explore the causes, treatment options, and lifestyle changes to improve dark underarms.

Causes of Dark Underarms

Several factors contribute to dark underarms:

  • Use of deodorant and antiperspirants: Chemicals and alcohol in these products can irritate the underarm skin, leading to discoloration.
  • Shaving the underarms: Shaving can remove the topmost layer of skin, causing irritation and darkening.
  • Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH): Skin damage, irritation, or inflammation triggers increased melanin production, leading to darkened skin.
  • Friction from clothes: Wearing tight or rough fabric can cause rubbing, resulting in hyperpigmentation.
  • Accumulation of dead skin cells: Infrequent cleaning or scrubbing can lead to the buildup of dead skin cells, causing darkened skin.
  • Medical conditions: Hormonal imbalance, gland disorders, hereditary factors, and PCOS can contribute to dark underarms.
  • Insulin resistance: Insulin can influence skin pigmentation, and insulin resistance can cause dark underarms.
  • Obesity: Overweight individuals are prone to acanthosis nigricans, a condition that causes darkening of the underarm skin.
  • Certain medications: Niacin, corticosteroids, and birth control pills can contribute to underarm skin discoloration.
  • Smoking: Smoking can lead to hyperpigmentation, affecting different parts of the body, including the underarms.

causes behind dark underarms Image: Causes of Dark Underarms

Medical Treatments for Dark Underarms

A variety of medical treatments are available to address underarm hyperpigmentation:

1. Topical medications

Dermatologists can prescribe depigmenting creams that contain compounds like hydroquinone, kojic acid, retinoids, and azelaic acid. Chemical peels made of retinol, lactic acid, glycolic acid, or trichloroacetic acid can also help exfoliate the skin, revealing brighter, healthier skin.

2. Oral medications

Depending on the cause of hyperpigmentation, doctors may prescribe medications to treat underlying conditions like hormone imbalance, diabetes, or increased cortisol levels. Additionally, vitamin A or C tablets may aid in skin lightening.

3. Laser therapy

Laser therapy not only lightens pigmentation and evens skin tone but also eliminates the need for shaving and waxing. It reduces skin thickness, giving it a lighter appearance.

medical treatment options for dark underarms Image: Medical Treatment Options for Dark Underarms

Natural Remedies for Dark Underarms

While dark underarms are not usually a serious medical problem, you can try natural remedies at home to lighten the skin:

1. Spray tea tree oil

Tea tree oil lightens the skin, keeps it odor-free, and prevents infections due to its antimicrobial properties. Dilute 5-6 drops of tea tree oil with ½ cup of water, transfer it to a spray bottle, and spray it on your underarms daily.

2. Make a turmeric paste

Turmeric has skin-lightening, antibacterial, and anti-itch properties. Mix 1 tsp of turmeric with honey and milk to form a paste. Apply the mask to your underarms, leave it on for 15 minutes, and rinse. Repeat three times a week for best results.

3. Rub a cucumber slice

Cucumber soothes and lightens the underarm skin while preventing infections. Cut a fresh cucumber into thin slices and rub them on your underarms. Wash the area after 10 minutes. Alternatively, mix cucumber juice with fuller's earth to form a paste, apply it to your underarms, and rinse after 15 minutes.

4. Make an apple cider vinegar scrub

Apple cider vinegar (ACV) contains amino acids and lactic acid, which help remove dead skin cells and improve hyperpigmentation. Grind ½ cup of rice to form rice flour, mix it with ACV to create a paste, and apply it to your underarm skin. Gently scrub and rinse after 10 minutes. Alternatively, dab ACV on your armpits using a cotton ball and rinse. Repeat these remedies weekly.

5. Use an orange peel powder and milk scrub

Orange peel powder exfoliates the skin, while milk has whitening properties. Mix 2 tbsp of orange peel with 1 tbsp each of rose water and cold milk to create a smooth paste. Massage the paste on your underarms and rinse after 15 minutes.

6. Prepare a brown sugar and olive oil scrub

Olive oil hydrates and nourishes the skin, and brown sugar removes dead skin cells. Mix 1 tbsp of olive oil with 1 tbsp of brown sugar, scrub your armpits for 2 minutes, and rinse. Repeat weekly.

7. Apply aloe vera gel

Aloe vera gel possesses sun-blocking, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial properties. Extract the gel from a fresh aloe vera leaf and apply a thin layer to your underarms. Rinse after 10-15 minutes. Alternatively, you can use store-bought organic aloe vera gel.

8. Rub potatoes

Potatoes act as natural bleaching agents and aid in the removal of dead skin cells. Cut a potato into thin slices and rub them on your underarms. Alternatively, grind a potato, extract its juice, and apply it to your underarms using a cotton ball. Rinse after 15 minutes.

9. Massage with coconut oil

Coconut oil has skin-lightening properties. Massage your underarms with coconut oil, leave it on for 15 minutes, and rinse. Repeat daily for effective results.

tea tree oil application can help manage dark underarms Image: Tea Tree Oil Application

Lifestyle Changes to Improve Dark Underarms

Implementing certain lifestyle changes and self-care measures can help lighten dark underarms and prevent hyperpigmentation:

1. Opt for waxing or electrolysis

Frequent use of hair removal creams or razor blades can cause underarm hyperpigmentation. Opt for waxing to remove hair from the roots and diminish the need for frequent sessions. Alternatively, consider electrolysis for a more permanent hair removal option.

2. Shave properly

Moisturize and condition your armpits before shaving to prevent friction. Use a sharp razor blade and shave in the direction of hair growth to avoid pulling.

3. Avoid strong deodorants

Deodorants containing fragrances, chemicals, alcohol, or aluminum can darken the underarm skin. Opt for natural or hypoallergenic deodorants instead.

4. Wear loose, soft clothes

Avoid tight or synthetic clothes that cause friction and sweat accumulation. Opt for cotton fabrics and loose clothes instead.

5. Exfoliate your skin

Gently scrub your underarms twice a week to remove dead skin cells and prevent darkening and infection. Exfoliation reveals fresher, evenly toned skin.

6. Maintain underarm hygiene

Cleanse your underarms with soap and a loofah daily during showering. Moisturize the skin afterward and apply antifungal powders if necessary.

7. Lose weight

Obesity can contribute to skin darkening. Aim to lose weight through a controlled diet and regular exercise.

8. Quit smoking

Smoking has adverse effects on the skin, including hyperpigmentation. Seek help from a healthcare professional to quit smoking.

shave your armpits properly after moisturizing them Image: Proper Shaving Technique

Final Thoughts

While dark underarms may not pose a health risk, they can be a source of aesthetic concern. Fortunately, there are various medical treatments, home remedies, and lifestyle changes that can help improve the appearance of dark underarms. Taking care of your underarm skin, similar to other body parts, is crucial to avoid darkening. If your underarm skin suddenly darkens, consult a doctor as it may indicate an underlying health issue. Take the necessary steps to achieve even skin tone and regain your confidence.