Itchy Underarms

While it may not be pleasant, itchy underarms are an unfortunately common condition to have. Medically, having itchy armpits is known as pruritus. When you experience itching, you may also have symptoms like swelling, scarring, soreness, redness or flaking.

Initially, you will probably want to scratch your itchy armpits, but this will only make it worse. When you itch your skin, you form scratches on the skin’s surface that can become infected. While you may feel the urge to itch your underarms, you should avoid doing so. Instead, try to find out the cause of your itchiness, get an accurate diagnosis and treat it. The best way to stop the itching is to allow your underarms to heal, so no more scratching.

What Are the Potential Causes of Itchy Underarms?

While you see infomercials and media coverage about major medical problems like heart attacks and diabetes, you probably do not see anyone discussing the underlying causes of itchy underarms. You want to know why your armpits itch, but it is not always easy to find the cause. There are many potential medical conditions or lifestyle factors that can cause this condition. By figuring out what is causing your itchy armpits, you can begin to figure out the right treatment or preventative measures to take.

1. Hygiene

Your hygiene is the most common cause of itchy armpits. Bacteria loves to live in dirt and sweat, and you normally have bacteria on your skin. If you have skipped showering or spent a lot of time exercising recently, the bacteria have had the perfect environment to flourish in. Start taking regular showers every day and shower after each workout to make sure that you do not suffer from itchy armpits.

2. Bras

If you are female, your bra could be causing your problem. Often, there are materials in bras that you could be allergic to. Try switching to natural materials to see if it helps. You could potentially be allergic to the rubber, nickel, elastic or latex in your bra.

3. Miliaria Rubra

This medical condition is a very common disease. It is colloquially known as a heat rash. A heat rash can occur if you are in a heated, humid environment for a long time. It can also happen if you are overweight or are on bed rest. Known for being particularly common in the tropics, milliaria rubra can cause the sweat glands to become blocked so that perspiration is trapped beneath your skin. As a result, you may develop red bumps, a prickling heat sensation and itchiness.

4. Shaving Problems

One of the most common reasons for itchy underarms is how you shave. If you do not use shaving cream or have a dull razor, then your armpits may become dry and irritation. To prevent the itchiness, use shaving cream when you shave and make sure to change your razor on a regular basis.

5. Laundry Detergent

A surprising number of people are allergic to certain types of laundry detergents. If your allergy is fairly mild, you may not even notice it. Try switching to a different laundry detergent to see if the change helps your itchiness.

6. Intertrigo

This common condition is essentially a rash. It happens in areas where you have skin folds like the groin, the stomach, underneath the breasts or the underarms. When you develop this condition, it can cause itchiness and redness. In severe cases, it can cause the skin to crack, ooze pus and become crusty. When the condition is left untreated, it can lead to a fungal infection or a bacterial infection. While anyone can develop this condition, it is more likely if you have diabetes, are exposed to high humidity or heat, are obese or practice poor hygiene habits.

Series Causes of Itchy Underarms

1. Axillary Lymphadenopathy

This condition occurs when the lymph nodes in the armpits are enlarged. It may be due to having to having to many lymph nodes or excessively large lymph nodes. As long as the lymph nodes do not grow in size, this medical condition is generally harmless.

2. Axillary Folliculitis

This medical condition occurs when one or more of the hair follicles in your armpit becomes infected. Often, it becomes infected by a bacteria like Staphylococcus aureus. In many cases, the hair follicle will heal by itself over time. You may notice small white pimples that itch, and severe cases may lead to scarring. In very severe cases, it can even cause boils.

3. Axillary Dermatitis

This medical condition is also known as contact dermatitis. It is extremely common and occurs when your skin comes into contact with an allergen. This causes your skin to react by making a rash. You may experience pain, itching or a sudden rash that develops over the course of about a day.

4. Psoriasis

Psoriasis is an autoimmune disorder that causes red patches to develop on the surface of the skin. Typically, the skin becomes flaky and itchy. With inverse psoriasis, smooth, red patches develop that may be swollen and itchy. This type of psoriasis commonly happens among the skin folds of obese patients.

5. Axillary Hyperhidrosis

This is a sweat gland disorder that causes excessive sweating. The excess moisture can lead to peeling, infections, irritation and itchiness.

6. Tinea Axillaris

Tinea axillaris is basically armpit fungus or ringworm. An infection is more likely to occur in environments with high moisture levels, low light and a high body temperature. It is not a particularly common condition, but can affect patients who have axillary hyperhidrosis.

7. Hidradenitis Suppurativa

Known as acne inversa, this condition affects the sweat glands in the armpits, groin and underneath the breast. It is not contagious, but can cause cysts and abscesses. The abscesses can burst sometimes, and you may also experience symptoms like pain, itchiness or tenderness.

When Should You See a Doctor?

While itchy underarms are generally not a sign of a major problem, they can occasionally indicate a life-threatening medical condition. You should go to your doctor immediately if you also experience joint stiffness; changes in alertness; sudden swelling on your lips, face or tongue; symptoms that worsen; breathing problems; fainting; or throat tightness.

For at-home treatment, you can use a hot compress to promote drainage or soothing lotions that contain vitamin E. Until the itching stops, you should stop shaving. This will also help to prevent infected or ingrown hair follicles. Practice good hygiene and make sure to avoid any allergens. In particular, you should make sure that you do not use deodorants that contain fragrances, parabens, aluminum or alcohol because these can worsen he condition. If you have to use deodorant, try making a more natural one at home using ingredients like potassium alum, baking soda or lemon juice.

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