What are the Most Common Problems with Underarm Skin?

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  • Written By: Laura M. Sands
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 20 January 2020
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Some of the most common problems with underarm skin include minor rash and irritation, often due to shaving followed by the use of deodorants. Skin in this area may also be affected by ingrown hairs, pimples, cysts and pigmentation problems. Often, these problems are not severe, but can be annoying and even painful when present. More serious issues with underarm skin may include numbness following a procedure known as a lumpectomy in the treatment of breast cancer or complications following a procedure known as sympathectomy used to treat excessive underarm sweating.

Anyone at any age can experience problems in the underarm area. Women, however, are most commonly affected by such issues due to daily grooming practices. Problems with skin in the underarm area are quite common and usually subside once the use of certain products is discontinued and skin is given a chance to naturally recover.

Underarm skin is very sensitive, yet is often subjected to irritants, such as deodorants and antiperspirants, which can cause skin to become irritated and inflamed. Ingrown hairs from shaving can also cause skin irritation, as well as pimples and cysts, which may also become infected. For some people, a rash created by shaving and irritated by deodorant may turn into an unsightly dark underarm pigmentation. Minor cuts to this delicate area can also cause underarm infection. Normally, underarm skin heals when no longer exposed to irritants, but some people may notice dark underarm skin for awhile thereafter.


Some people have BOTOX injected into the underarm skin to treat excessive sweating. Side effects of BOTOX injections in this sensitive area include discoloration and bruising that usually fades within a few days. Some people treat excessive sweating with a sympathectomy, which involves the removal of sweat glands by scraping the skin in this area. This procedure is not without serious side effects, however, and is generally only performed as a last result when all other treatments for this embarrassing condition have failed.

After a lumpectomy to remove part of the breast in cancer patients, underarm skin may become painful or may produce a numbing sensation. Researchers believe that this effect may also be the result of a poor diet, obesity, cigarette smoking or a side effect of certain medicines taken prior to the procedure. During a lumpectomy, a small incision is made right next to the armpit, so it is not unusual to feel underarm skin discomfort after anesthesia has worn off.


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Post 2

I can't remember the brand of underarm deodorant I first started using as a teen, but it came in a spray can and was very pungent. Sometimes I'd feel some burning and itching in my armpits the next day and discover a break in the skin. I put some antibiotic ointment on the break and it stung a lot. My mom suggested I try a different kind of deodorant and see if it got better. Roll-on deodorants had just become popular, so I tried one of those and the irritation went away.

Post 1

The worst problem I've ever experienced with my underarm skin is blotching. I have dark red underarms compared to my regular pale white skin. It doesn't itch like a rash, but it looks really bad whenever I take off my shirt. I don't remember my underarms looking that way when I was a child, so I have to wonder if something triggered the pigmentation or blotching after puberty.

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