Why Do I Get Pimples On My Armpit


Have you ever experienced a bump in the armpit area and you cannot tell whether it is a pimple, ingrown hair, or infection?

The armpit area is relatively sensitive with multiple sweat glands and hair follicles. Sometimes, the hair follicle might get blocked or infected, resulting in the development of a pimple. Armpit pimples are generally harmless and disappear on their own. However, pimples can be painful, itchy, or sore, leading to scarring if not properly managed.

What are armpit pimples?

Pimples are tiny, inflamed spots with a white centre. It typically appears on the skin's surface when the blocked hair follicle becomes infected with bacteria and inflamed.1 Pimples are more likely to develop in the armpit since the area is warm and moist, leading to bacterial infections. Generally, pimples are harmless and can heal by themselves. However, they can be itchy, painful, and frustrating. If the pimple persists, it is recommended to consult a dermatologist for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Causes of armpit pimples

Pimples on the armpit can be caused by a variety of factors. These include:


Folliculitis is an infection of the hair follicle that leads to inflammation around the hair strand. It appears as a red or white bump around the hair follicle, filled with pus or blood. Folliculitis is mostly caused by bacterial, fungal, or parasitic infections.

Hidradenitis suppurativa

Hidradenitis suppurativa is a chronic skin condition that affects sweat glands. It is characterised by the development of painful, pus-filled lumps or nodules that can be recurrent and may eventually lead to the formation of tunnels under the skin, which are deep wounds that go through more than one skin layer. These tunnels can cause scarring and skin damage.2

Ingrown hairs

Ingrown hair is a condition in which a hair strand that has grown out from the hair follicle gets twisted and trapped inside a bump due to the blockage of the hair follicle by the dead skin. It is more likely to happen when hair is improperly shaved, waxed, or removed from the armpit area.3

Razor burns

Frequent shaving of the underarm area with a razor increases friction, roughness, and irritation to the delicate skin, resulting in pimple formation. Shaving usually creates tiny nicks or cuts in the skin. Using a dull or old razor is more likely to introduce bacteria into these cuts, leading to a skin infection.4


The armpit area is exposed to a lot of friction when the arms swing back and forth, which leads to irritation, skin inflammation, and the development of armpit pimples. In addition, wearing tight clothing increases friction in the armpit area, which can exacerbate the problem, especially if the clothing is made of non-breathable materials that trap sweat against the skin.

Contact dermatitis

Contact dermatitis is a skin condition that occurs when your underarm skin comes into contact with an allergen (a substance that causes an allergic reaction, such as deodorant, fragrance, or detergent). The symptoms of contact dermatitis can vary depending on the severity of the reaction. These symptoms include redness, itching, swelling, and a bumpy rash or blisters in the armpit. The skin may also become dry, cracked, or scaly. In some cases, contact dermatitis may lead to oozing or crusting of the skin.5

Excessive sweating

When you sweat, the moisture mixes with bacteria and oils on the skin, which can clog pores and lead to the formation of pimples.

Other causes of armpit pimples

Hormonal changes can also be a reason for the formation of pimples in the armpit area. Fluctuations in hormones during puberty, menstruation, and pregnancy can result in the formation of pimples.6 In addition, a weak immune system, sudden weight gain, and certain medications are other causes of armpit pimples.

Management and treatment for armpit pimples

There are a number of treatments currently available to help get rid of armpit pimples. These include: 

  • Oral antibiotics — antibiotics work by killing the bacteria responsible for the infection and reducing inflammation. Commonly prescribed antibiotics for armpit pimples include doxycycline, cephalexin, and erythromycin7
  • Topical antibiotics — along with oral medication, doctors may also prescribe topical antibacterial gel or lotions. Apply the topical antibiotic to the affected skin until the pimples are healed completely. Clindamycin and Erythromycin are known to be effective in treating bacteria-caused infections such as folliculitis8
  • Antibacterial washes — antibacterial washes containing benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, and chlorhexidine can kill the bacteria and reduce inflammation and irritation9
  • Steroid creams — topical steroids reduce inflammation and redness, thus relieving symptoms such as itching and pain. Hydrocortisone cream is the most commonly used type of steroid cream for armpit pimples5
  • Home remedies — green tea has antioxidant properties that help to soothe inflamed pimples and balance the production of sebum (an oily substance produced from glands in hair follicles).10 Apple cider vinegar is also good for getting rid of pimples as it has antibacterial properties and can help balance the skin's pH level.11 Lastly, aloe vera has anti-inflammatory properties and can help soothe the skin10 

How can I prevent pimples from forming on my armpit?

It is important to keep your armpit clean to prevent pimples from forming by exfoliating the area regularly to remove dead skin cells and help unclog pores.

You can also take the following steps to prevent pimples from forming:

  • Shower regularly, especially after exercising or other activities that cause sweating, to keep the underarm area clean
  • Avoid tight clothing that causes friction and irritation in the armpit area. Instead, wear cotton clothing, which can help to absorb sweat and prevent it from accumulating on the skin
  • Use a sharp and clean razor blade when shaving the armpit area to avoid skin irritation. Use shaving cream or gel to lubricate the skin, and shave in the direction of hair growth to avoid ingrown hairs
  • If you are allergic to certain deodorants or detergents, avoid using them

Top tip: do not touch, squeeze, or pick at pimples, as this spreads bacteria and causes further irritation and inflammation. Instead, use topical treatments to help reduce the size and redness of pimples.


Armpit pimples are common and there is no reason to be embarrassed by them. Usually, the pimples go away within one or two weeks. However, it is important to keep your underarms clean and dry, avoid tight clothing, use a sharp razor, and avoid harsh chemicals to prevent armpit pimples.


  1. Sajwan A, Belwal A, Sharma N, Joshi Y. A concise review on skin disorders. Saudi J Med Pharm Sci [Internet]. 2022 May 20 [cited 2023 Mar 14];8(5):252–6. Available from: https://saudijournals.com/media/articles/SJMPS_85_252-256.pdf
  2. Sabat R, Jemec GBE, Matusiak Ł, Kimball AB, Prens E, Wolk K. Hidradenitis suppurativa. Nat Rev Dis Primers [Internet]. 2020 Mar 12 [cited 2023 Mar 14];6(1):1–20. Available from: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41572-020-0149-1
  3. Nair PA, Pariath K, Patel D, Bhut A. Clinical and dermoscopic image of hairs trapped in the acne scar: is it ingrown or circle hairs? Int J Trichology [Internet]. 2022 [cited 2023 Mar 14];14(2):73–4. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9069906/
  4. Sukakul T, Bunyaratavej S, Chaweekulrat P, Trakanwittayarak S, Varothai S. Facial hair shaving behavior and skin problems of shaved areas of males. J Dermatol [Internet]. 2021 Sep [cited 2023 Mar 14];48(9):1409–13. Available from: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1346-8138.16034
  5. Li Y, Li L. Contact dermatitis: classifications and management. Clinic Rev Allerg Immunol [Internet]. 2021 Dec 1 [cited 2023 Mar 14];61(3):245–81. Available from: https://doi.org/10.1007/s12016-021-08875-0
  6. Bienenfeld A, Azarchi S, Lo Sicco K, Marchbein S, Shapiro J, Nagler AR. Androgens in women: Androgen-mediated skin disease and patient evaluation. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology [Internet]. 2019 Jun 1 [cited 2023 Mar 14];80(6):1497–506. Available from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0190962218326744
  7. Eichenfield DZ, Sprague J, Eichenfield LF. Management of acne vulgaris: a review. JAMA. 2021 Nov 23;326(20):2055–67.
  8. Condrò G, Guerini M, Castello M, Perugini P. Acne vulgaris, atopic dermatitis and rosacea: the role of the skin microbiota—a review. Biomedicines [Internet]. 2022 Oct [cited 2023 Mar 14];10(10):2523. Available from: https://www.mdpi.com/2227-9059/10/10/2523
  9. Stringer T, Nagler A, Orlow SJ, Oza VS. Clinical evidence for washing and cleansers in acne vulgaris: a systematic review. Journal of Dermatological Treatment [Internet]. 2018 Oct 3 [cited 2023 Mar 14];29(7):688–93. Available from: https://doi.org/10.1080/09546634.2018.1442552
  10. Dini I, Laneri S. The new challenge of green cosmetics: natural food ingredients for cosmetic formulations. Molecules [Internet]. 2021 Jan [cited 2023 Mar 14];26(13):3921. Available from: https://www.mdpi.com/1420-3049/26/13/3921
  11. Townsend J. Vinegar: a guide to the many types and their use around the home. Arcturus Publishing; 2023. 265 p.
This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

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Mayasah Al-Nema

PhD Pharmaceutical Sciences – MSc Pharmaceutical Chemistry – BSc Pharmacy, UCSI University, Malaysia

Mayasah is a skilled and experienced scientific researcher and writer with over seven years of experience in writing scientific articles and books. In addition to her expertise in research, she has three years of experience as a teaching assistant at UCSI University, providing her with valuable insights into effective teaching practices. Mayasah has participated in numerous international conferences, where she has presented her research findings to peers and colleagues. She is also a respected peer-reviewer for three prominent scientific journals, providing expert analysis and feedback on articles submitted for publication.

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