Rash in the underarm, or armpit rash, may be painful, itchy, unsightly and embarrassing. It can cause discomfort or a burning feeling in the armpit. These rashes affect female and male adults, children and babies.
What causes these rashes in the armpits, including those red and itchy bumps? What do they look like (see the many photos below)? How can they be treated? Will you need medical attention or can you cure them with DIY home remedies? We will answer all of these questions in this article.
What is an armpit rash?
These rashes are changes in the skin of the underarm, affecting its texture, appearance or color. If you have this type of rash, your skin may redden and become bumpy, swollen, cracked, chapped, flaky, scaly, blistered, blotchy, painful and warm or pus-filled. You may or may not experience pain with rashes.
Sometimes an armpit rash will simply not go away. They may come and go, or go away without any treatment. Other rashes need medical or home treatment in order to heal.
Adults, young adults, children, kids and babies may all suffer from armpit rash at some time. People who have sensitive skin, who work in hot or humid conditions or those who are involved in sports have a higher tendency to develop these rashes.
Armpit rashes may be mild or severe. You may experience a rash under both arms or just one. They can begin at the back of the armpits or closer to your breast. In addition, they can begin in one place and then spread to other body parts.
What are the common symptoms of armpit rash?
The signs you see depend on what is causing your rash. Some common symptoms include:
- White or red rash
- Pimple-like or bumpy appearance
- An underarm odor
- Circular rings
- Inflamed feeling
- Burning sensation
- Pus or discharge
At times, a rash in the armpit may have symptoms like swelling of the armpit, accompanied by runny nose, swelling, sore throat, sweating, chills, fever, headache, cough and stiffness and pain in your joints.
If your rash is accompanied by joint pain and stiffness, a purple-colored rash, problems breathing, wheezing, choking, swelling of the tongue, face or lip, a tightness or constriction in the throat, fever, chills or changes in consciousness or alertness, you need to get medical help right away.
Armpit rash pictures
In order that you can more easily visualize the appearance of underarm rashes, we are including some photos of rashes in the armpits. These are only samples – your rash may not look like any of them. Their appearance depends not only on the cause, but also your sensitivity level to the cause and your natural complexion.
What causes underarm rash?
Before you can treat your rash, the cause of the rash must be properly diagnosed. In this section we’ll focus on some of the causes for underarm rash. We’ll also give you some various ways to heal or treat an armpit rash. Treatments are dependent on what caused the rash.
Sweat rash and heat rash
One common cause for armpit rash is sweat and heat. The rash is usually caused by sweat ducts that have become blocked, which traps sweat beneath the skin. According to the Mayo Clinic, the symptoms can range from superficial red blisters to deeper colored red lumps.
Heat rash is very common in babies, but adults can be affected too. The photo below will give you an idea of what sweat or heat rash looks like.
Heat or sweat rashes clear up on their own, so you don’t need to treat them. However, you can ease the symptoms somewhat by soothing them with hydrocortisone cream or calamine lotion and by wearing loose, cool clothing in warm weather.
Underarm rash caused by fungus, candida or yeast
If you have a yeast or candida infection under your arm(s), this can lead to armpit rash. These rashes can affect any body part, but are more common in regions where two areas of skin rub together. This includes not only the armpits, but also other skin folds, the groin and areas between your fingers and your toes.
Candida albicans grows easily in warm, moist, sweaty environments, which are just what your armpits provide. In addition, tight-fitting clothes and poor personal hygiene can cause a candida infection to multiply and spread.
If you have a candida fungus infection, it causes pus-filled pimples, redness, soreness, cracked skin, flaking or scales, circular rings and an itchy rash. Physicians can prescribe an antifungal for treatment. Prescriptions and OTC drugs for candida rash include Nystatin, clotrimazole and ketoconazole.
Those at increased risk for candida infection include:
- Pregnant women
- People with inflammatory diseases
- People who work in damp conditions
- People with weak immunity, like those who suffer from HIV AIDS
- People on antibiotics
- People with diabetes
- People who are overweight
Armpit rash from hidradenitis suppurativa
Also called acne inversa, this health issue is a painful disease of the skin that causes scarring and abscesses, according to webmd.com. It is most likely to affect armpit areas, breast areas, groin, buttock and anus, but it can also spread to your face, legs, back or neck. The exact cause isn’t known, but it may be due to inflamed apocrine sweat glands or blocked hair follicles.
This skin condition may be treated with ciclosporin, infliximab, adalimumab, retinoid medications or corticosteroids. It can be cured with these medications or surgical or laser treatments.
Underarm shaving rash
When you shave your underarms with a razor, especially if the blade is dull, it can break or irritate the skin, causing ingrown hair, red bumps or razor burn. It may even allow infections to affect the sensitive, delicate skin of your underarms.
Some people also have a rash after plucking hair or using epilating products. Try shaving creams, laser hair removal or waxing to avoid armpit rash.
HIV-related armpit rash
In the early or initial stages, the HIV virus may manifest itself through rashes on various body parts, including your shoulders, chest or armpits. Within about two months of becoming infected, you will develop rashes that are flat or lightly raised. They may also show small, red spots or dots in people who have light colored skin.
Usually, HIV related underarm rash isn’t itchy, and it disappears within about three weeks. If it does happen to be itchy, you can use Benadryl or hydrocortisone cream to reduce the itching. You should avoid hot baths, hot showers and direct sunlight.
Armpit rashes or contact dermatitis from allergic reactions
If you have an allergic reaction to products like detergents, fragrances, cosmetics, body lotions, shaving cream or soap, this can cause itchy, red rashes. These may develop under your arms, wherever the products contact the skin of your underarms.
Armpit rash from antiperspirants and deodorants
If you often have rashes in your armpits, it may be due to your antiperspirant or deodorant. You may be allergic to some ingredients. These rashes are usually bumpy, red and itchy, and they may ooze, flake, blister and peel.
To avoid further incidents, change your antiperspirant or deodorant. Choose a hypoallergenic brand like:
- Crystal Stick Body Deodorant for Sensitive Skin
- Stiefel B-Drier
- Almay Hypo-Allergenic Fragrance Free Roll On
- Mitchum Roll-On Unscented
Ringworm will usually cause a crusted, scaly rash that can look like red, round patches on skin, including skin of your underarms. You may also experience lesions, itching, scaling and patchy loss of hair.
Staph bacteria is a type of methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus (also called MRSA). It is resistant to many antibiotics. The first type, CA-MRSA, is brought on by touching contaminated objects or poor personal hygiene. HA-MRSA is usually associated with intravenous catheters or surgical procedures.
CA-MRSA usually affects rubbed, scratched or cut skin areas, along with those that have more hair, like the armpits, buttocks, beard and the back of your neck. The bumps have a white or yellow center and a head also in the center, according to healthline.com. The areas infected will become fluid-filled and swollen. They will be red, and cause pain if you happen to touch them.
CA-MRSA is usually treated by draining or use of targeted antibiotics. Keeping up with your personal hygiene and avoiding sharing your shavers, towels, etc. will help in preventing this form of CA-MRSA. So will washing your hands regularly, sanitizing linens and showering after sports.
According to healthline.com, lymphoma may cause skin-fold located itchy rashes. The areas affected include the armpits. It is often accompanied by swollen lymph nodes or lymphedema, particularly in the area of the underarms.
Other causes of armpit rash
In addition to those listed above, rashes of the armpits may be caused by:
- Pregnancy – Women are more vulnerable to yeast infections when pregnant.
- Diabetes – This disease makes people more likely to develop fungal infections.
- Shingles – This medical issue causes red, patchy blisters that are filled with fluids. They are itchy and break easily.
- Disseminated granuloma annulare
- Poor personal hygiene
- Excessive sweating
- Stings and bites
- Lyme disease
- Kawasaki disease
- Pityriasis rosea
Children’s armpit rash
If your young child has rashes in the underarms, common causes include eczema, heat rash, yeast or fungal infections, rubella, dermatitis, acanthosis Nigricans, erythrasma, ringworm, psoriasis and other causes.
Itchy armpit rash
We’ve gone through most causes of general armpit rash. Now we’ll look into underarm rashes that are especially itchy. Causes of itchy rashes in the armpits include folliculitis, yeast or fungal infections, HIV rash, deodorant rash, contact dermatitis, ringworm, lymphoma (cancer in lymph nodes), eczema, psoriasis and shingles, among others.
To get rid of an itchy armpit rash, you must first treat the main underlying cause. You can use home remedies (we will discuss some below) to help in soothing an itchy rash. You might also apply oatmeal, clay, aloe Vera, apple cider vinegar, peppermint leaves, fresh basil leaves or pastes made from fruit peels.
Don’t give in to the temptation to scratch your underarm rash, even if it burns or itches. Instead, use creams with hydrocortisone, benzocaine, diphenhydramine, pramoxine, phenol camphor. Antihistamines, anti-inflammatory medicines, cold baths and cold compresses may help, too.
Red rash in armpit
In addition to feeling itchy, a rash can also be brownish red or dark red. It may burn, be sore or painful, but there are some rashes that are not painful. Rashes that cause itchiness can affect females or males, babies, toddlers, children and adults.
They may ooze a yellow or clear discharge, or affect groin or buttock areas, in addition to armpits. The precise symptoms you experience depend on the cause. Some typical causes of itchy armpit rash include eczema, shingles, tinea axillaris, lymphoma, disseminated granuloma annulare, dermatitis, some types of deodorants, HIV, folliculitis, yeast or candida fungal infection or shaving irritation.
Painful rash in armpit
Rashes in the armpits may be painful and tender, causing a burning sensation. The pain may be sharp, dull or severe. The area can also be bumpy, itchy and red. Some common causes of painful armpit rash include allergic reactions, folliculitis, eczema, hives, cellulitis, shingles (especially painful), ringworm, staph infection and hidradenitis suppurativa.
To get relief from a painful rash in the armpit, you can use home remedies. Topical creams can help to reduce pain. You may also consult with your physician to get a prescription for a medication for your painful armpit rash.
Healing, curing or getting rid of underarm rash
Armpit rash is uncomfortable and may cause burning, pain or itchiness. It’s important to treat it properly. The way to treat rashes in the underarm depends on the cause.
Generally, underarm rashes brought about by viruses are best treated with anti-viral medications. Bacterial infections need antibiotic treatment. Yeast or fungal rashes require an anti-fungal medication.
Armpit rash home remedy treatments
Some home or natural remedies are useful in treating rashes under your arms. They can relieve the symptoms like pain, tenderness, redness, itchiness or inflammation. Types of treatments in this category include:
- Tea tree oil, vitamin E oil or aloe Vera – Apply these oils for reducing inflammation and soothing pain or itching.
- Ice packs – Using ice packs, or cubed ice wrapped in a towel, can be helpful in reducing itchiness and pain.
- Lemons – Swiping a lemon slice in your armpit kills bacteria and acts as an all-natural deodorant. Don’t try it right after you shave, though, to avoid a burning sensation.
- Vitamin C – Increasing your intake can reduce your skin infections.
- Baking soda – If you add a half teaspoon or so to your bath water or dust some in your armpit, it can help it to feel drier.
- Diluted tea tree oil – This reduces itchiness and kills fungus.
Other DIY remedies for armpit rash include:
- Neem leaf paste – This has antibacterial and antiseptic properties.
- Crushed strawberries with heavy cream – This reduces the visibility of the rash and soothes any irritation.
- Coconut and lavender oil mixtures – They get rid of irritation from the rash.
Armpit rash cream
The treatment method you use for underarm rash depends on the cause. Similarly, the creams, ointments, lotions or gels you can use must also address the underlying problem. We are not listing any specific brands of creams, but we will advise you that antibiotic creams work best for bacterial infections, and anti-fungal creams work best when the cause was fungus or yeast infection.
Regardless of the cause, some creams can help relieve the symptoms of pain or itching. They include calamine lotion, Benadryl and hydrocortisone creams.
General tips – Getting rid of your armpit rash
In addition to DIY treatments and creams, we offer here some general tips that help to get rid of rashes and prevent them in the future:
- Use powders with anti-chafing properties.
- Wear clothing that is crafted with natural material and that fits loosely.
- Clean the affected area twice a day or more with a mild soap.
- Place white cloth under your arms, to keep the skin from sticking together.
- Dry the rash out by applying a layer of corn starch.
- Make sure your room is cool, especially if you have heat rash.
For fastest recovery, discontinue your use of body lotions, fragrances, antiperspirants and deodorants until the rash has cleared, except for products recommended by your physician or dermatologist.