Almost every person experiences an itchy armpit at some point in their lives. You must have tried every other way to get relief from tickling your armpit to scratching it.
While the reason could be any, it can be serious if ignored for a prolonged time.
Read on to learn more about itchy armpits, their causes and how you can prevent them.
An itchy armpit indicates the itchy sensation one experiences in the underarm region. It can occur due to various reasons such as skin irritation, infections, allergic reactions, or underlying skin conditions.
The underarm is very prone to itching and rashes and the intensity ranges from mild to severe. Although it can be temporary, it is better not to ignore it.
Causes of itchy armpits
Heat and sweat
The hot and humid climate makes you shed more sweat than usual and a moist environment is perfect for bacteria and fungi to grow and multiply. Armpit itching because of sweat is very common. Candida or Candidiasis, a type of fungal infection, occurs frequently in the armpit due to its moist environment.
Any type of dermatitis can lead to an itchy armpit.
It is a form of eczema and is characterised by dry skin, itching, eczematous lesions, etc.1
It is a chronic inflammatory disorder that occurs mainly in the scalp, face and body folds. It occurs due to the presence of unsaturated fatty acids on the skin surface.2
Contact dermatitis can occur when the skin surface comes into contact with a certain substance like deodorants, soaps, personal care products, etc. that triggers an allergic reaction leading to itchiness.
This is a bacterial infection caused by Staphylococcus aureus leading to pus-filled red bumps or pustules in the armpit. Irritation from shaving and waxing can cause discomfort and itchiness.3
Inadequate cleaning of the axillary region (armpit) can lead to the accumulation of sweat, dirt, etc. causing irritation and itching.
Signs and symptoms of itchy armpits
- Uncomfortable sensation with itching
- Persistent scratching can lead to a rash or small bumps
Management and treatment for itchy armpits
Medical treatment- when the itching persists for a prolonged time and the symptoms are aggravating, you may need to consult a healthcare professional for proper diagnosis and treatment.
Antihistamines are prescribed to treat allergic reactions, and Fluticasone skin cream to treat skin conditions like eczema, contact dermatitis, psoriasis, etc.4
Mupirocin treats skin conditions caused by bacterial infections, but this drug comes with warnings. All the mentioned medicines should be taken after proper consultation with your doctor.
Apart from medical treatment, you can manage an itchy armpit by practising good hygiene, avoiding skin irritants that trigger an allergic reaction, and regularly drying and moisturising the skin.
How can I prevent itchy armpits?
You need to identify and avoid those agents that irritate your skin and cause discomfort. Certain substances include deodorants, cologne, fabrics, lotions, etc. Try the patch test labelled on the product before using it.
Maintain good hygiene
Regularly clean your armpits with mild soap and water to remove sweat, bacteria, and dirt. Gently pat dry the area afterwards.
Picking gentle products
Picking products that are suitable for sensitive skin or the type of skin you have.
Keeping the skin well-moisturised helps to keep dryness at bay.
Wear breathable fabrics
Switch to loose-fitting clothes made of breathable fabrics that are gentle on the skin. This helps better ventilation to the armpit.
Waxing and shaving
Always shave in the direction of the hair growth and if you are sensitive to waxing, try avoiding that.
Keeping your armpit dry
Dry your armpits thoroughly. Wetness after showering or too much sweat can promote bacterial growth.
Stress is directly proportional to sweat production. Cutting down stress helps to manage sweat and thereby prevent itchiness and rashes.5
Prevention is better than cure. But when you find out that your skin condition is worsening, you must seek medical advice.
How common are itchy armpits?
Itchy armpits are very common and almost everyone experiences an itchy armpit.
Who is at risk of itchy armpits?
Itchy armpits are not limited to any age and gender. It can affect anyone. People who are at risk of developing an itchy armpit are:
- People with sensitive skin or those with a history of allergies are more prone to developing itchy armpits
- Individuals with pre-existing skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis, or dermatitis may be at a higher risk of experiencing itchy armpits
- People live in hot and humid climates since sweating creates favourable conditions for bacterial and fungal growth
What can I expect if I have itchy armpits?
- Itching sensation - It is one of the primary symptoms and the intensity of itching may vary from mild to severe
- Redness and swelling - The skin may appear irritated and regular scratching of the armpit region may lead to redness and swelling
- Skin rash or bumps - Small, red bumps may develop in the armpit region
- Pain and skin change - You may feel pain or discomfort because of swelling and you may also notice changes in the skin texture
When should I see a doctor?
It is important to note that the experiences may vary from person to person. When your symptoms aggravate and cause a difference in your daily activities, it is advisable to consult a doctor for proper evaluation and diagnosis.
Itchy armpits can be caused by a variety of reasons, ranging from minor skin irritations to serious skin infections. It is important to pay attention to any skin changes and contact a doctor if itchiness persists. Self-care or taking preventive measures such as regular showering, keeping your armpits dry, avoiding irritating fabrics, and wearing loose fabric clothes are a few of the preventive lists that you can opt for.
- Kolb L, Ferrer-Bruker SJ. Atopic dermatitis. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 [cited 2023 Jul 3]. Available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK448071/
- Tucker D, Masood S. Seborrheic dermatitis. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 [cited 2023 Jul 3]. Available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK551707/
- Top 4 causes of armpit redness | buoy health [Internet]. 2019 [cited 2023 Jul 3]. Available from: https://www.buoyhealth.com/learn/armpit-redness
- nhs.uk [Internet]. 2023 [cited 2023 Jul 3]. About fluticasone skin creams. Available from: https://www.nhs.uk/medicines/fluticasone-skin-creams/about-fluticasone-skin-creams/
- Schote AB, Dietrich K, Linden AE, Dzionsko I, Molano Moreno LDLA, Winnikes U, et al. Real sweating in a virtual stress environment: Investigation of the stress reactivity in people with primary focal hyperhidrosis. PLoS One [Internet]. 2022 Aug 2 [cited 2023 Jul 3];17(8):e0272247. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9345359/