Hyperpigmentation is very common but some may be less bothered. But what if it becomes the source of embarrassment for some? Underarm Pigmentation is no different. Just like facial pigmentation, underarm discoloration is also a reason of concern for many and may also hold them from wearing certain types of clothes.
Pigmented underarms can definitely lead to embarrassment, people also experience low-esteem or feel uncomfortable due to darker underarms.
The discoloration is a result of Acanthosis Nigricans (AN), which is a skin condition that darkens the skin in body folds & creases. It is quite common at the back of the neck, underarms, groin, knee, elbow.
Darker pigmentation can be caused due to several factors like genetics, obesity, health conditions and those with darker skin are more likely to have darker pigmentation.
What are the causes of underarm pigmentation?
Darker armpits are very common & natural but may bother some people.
Very often, dead skin cells get accumulated on these less exposed skin areas, making them darker & thicker.
Here are some of the reasons for having darker armpits-
- Friction, i.e. to wear tight & body fitted clothes
- Perspiration (excess sweating)
- Allergy of deodorants or antiperspirants
- Frequent shaving or over-exfoliation using harsh soaps
- Medical conditions like obesity or diabetes.
- Hormonal imbalance (even thyroid patient can face discoloration)
- Melasma or Eczema disorder creates darker patches on the skin
- Hyperpigmentation due to excess melanin (natural skin pigment)
- Seborrheic dermatitis (itchy rash & flaky scales)
Skin diseases like Bullous disorder can also be a reason for darker armpits. 50 skin diseases can cause pigmented underarms.
How to lighten the underarm?
To work on that, you need to address the basic causes.
Pigmentation or skin disorders are never-ending procedures. No matter how much medical treatment you undergo, there are necessary lifestyle modifications that are highly recommended.
Dermatologists suggest certain remedies like -
- Staying active & exercising regularly.
Some studies have shown that losing weight & staying fit can help in pigmentation. People suffering from obesity are likely to have darker armpits. Staying active will also help with diabetes.
- Healthy eating habits & improved lifestyle
Some food might aggravate certain hormones that lead to hyper-pigmentation. It is advisable to avoid food that has a high glycemic index like sugar, fried & junk. Also, some improvements in lifestyle like giving up smoking can reduce discoloration.
- Wear loose-fitting clothes
To avoid frequent friction due to body-fitted clothes, it is advisable to switch to loose-fitting clothes (cotton-based clothes work the best). Tight clothes sometimes block the pores and the non-exposed skin is more liable to accumulate the dead skin cells, making the area darker & thicker.
- Exfoliate 2-3 times a week
Over-exfoliation can cause rashes & inflammation onto the skin, making it thicker. Therefore, it is recommended not to exfoliate using sharp-edged particles or harsh ingredients. Also using natural remedies like curd, turmeric, lemon, aloe vera gel, rose water (patch test recommended) helps in lightening the armpits.
After exfoliation, do moisturize the area to avoid rash & inflammation.
Some popular natural remedies for lightening the underarms-
> Lemon juice & Aloe vera gel
> Curd & turmeric
> Cucumber extract & aloe vera
> Milk thistle extracts
> Sea cucumber extracts
> Potato juice
> Oils like coconut oil & tea tree oil
Lemon has acidic properties which may cause inflammation and so do some other ingredients. So apply it gently with mild ingredients and a patch test is highly advisable.
- Switch other brand deodorants or antiperspirants
Deodorants have some properties or ingredients that could be harsh on the skin or you could be allergic to the same. This is one of the major reasons for underarm pigmentation. Instead, go for natural deodorants or antiperspirants which do not have artificial fragrance.
You can also get some help from home remedies like using Apple Cider Vinegar or Baking Soda.
- Avoid shaving or hair plucking
Shaving cream or even blades can cause irritation to the skin. It is recommended to use wax or go for laser hair removal treatment instead.
- Take a shower after the workout
Don't let the sweat stay for a longer time by showering instantly after workout or gym sessions. Excess sweating produces a foul smell and also clogs the pores making the area thicker & pigmented.
Medical treatments for underarm pigmentation:
After a lot of patience and trial 7 error method, if you’re not getting satisfactory results then it's time to visit your dermatologists.
Dermatologists, depending on your skin type & pigmented condition, suggest treatments/medicines which help in lightening the underarms & that also finds the underlying possible cause.
They may prescribe some oral medicines like retinoid pills. These pills are considered the finest treatment for skin conditions like AN. Retinoid pills help in lightening the skin also in acne, psoriasis, or other skin conditions.
Dermatologists along with medicines suggest some medical creams like Vitamin-D-based or retinoid creams that treat pigmentations.
- Treatments & Procedures
1. Epidermal Exfoliation peel off the layer giving lighter skin.
2. Topical creams & lotions consisting of glycolic acid, azelaic acid, retinol, hydroquinone are quite effective.
3. Chemical Peeling deeply exfoliates the skin.
4. Laser treatments to lighten the pigment. These are quite rapid and effective.
5. Botox treatment for hyper perspiration
6. Laser hair removal treatment is also suggested to avoid frequent traditional methods for removing hair. This will also control the friction & pigmentation.
Even though darker or pigmented underarms are harmless, it is advisable to have a consultation with a dermatologist because the underlying cause could be a medical condition like obesity, diabetes, or thyroid.
Also, if you are noticing some patches in your skin or skin starts reacting too often, then you must consult a doctor. This may cause some serious diseases or skin conditions.
Every skin needs help, care & attention and so do underarms.