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Armpit Rash

Armpit rash refers to the occurrence of a rash in the armpits. Even though an armpit rash causes some discomfort and can be caused due to several reasons, it generally isn’t a cause for concern. The armpit is a moist, dark region and a great place for bacteria and other pathogens to thrive. The growth of certain types of bacteria can result in emission of odors and hence most humans use deodorants to alleviate smelly armpits. However, on occasions the germs and deodorant can react and result in an armpit rash

Poor personal hygiene is not the only cause of an armpit rash. It can also develop due to the use of chemical products to reduce the odor and stay clean. Drying soaps, deodorants and perfumes, all can lead to an allergic reaction. Shaving of the underarm hair is another cause of an armpit rash

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An armpit rash may occur in all sizes and shapes. Some may grow as reddish, itchy pimples or bumps, while others may occur as elevated patches of abnormal, dry skin. Some rashes may elicit intense itchiness and cause pain, while others may be painless and non-itchy. However, since the underarm is a sensitive region and vulnerable to infections, patients generally opt for clearing even pain-free cases of an armpit rash

Armpit Rash Causes

An armpit rash may be caused due to several different factors. Three of the most common causes of an armpit rash include friction, elevated heat and exposure to allergens.

  • The underarm skin is quite sensitive and can be easily irritated via friction. It may be noted that the armpit is one part of the body which is prone to constant friction or rubbing against clothes or adjacent skin. When friction occurs along with increased moistness and heat, then the epidermis can break down and result in inflammation. Such injured skin then becomes vulnerable to infection by bacteria, fungi and other pathogens and result in an armpit rash. Candidiasis is a kind of yeast infection that forms in the above discussed manner and causes an armpit rash
  • Heat rash is a condition caused due to elevated perspiration which results in the blockage of the sweat ducts occurring beneath the skin. The sweat trapped under the skin then causes the formation of a bumpy armpit rash, which can occasionally be painful. The reasons for clogging of the sweat ducts are not always understood, but a few factors such as ill-fitting apparels, some types of fabrics, drugs and bacteria can act as contributory factors.
  • Contact dermatitis is a widespread cause of irritation of the skin, including the armpit skin. Contact dermatitis is generally the result of an adverse reaction of the skin to irritants and allergens. It can result in an armpit rash when the underarms skin gets irritated by the chemicals present in an antiperspirant or a deodorant. However, when an armpit rash features blisters and bumps, then it may be caused due to an allergic reaction of the skin.


  • Most cases of an armpit rash tend to resolve on its own within a few weeks. However, patients of an itchy and painful armpit rash may not be able to endure it for a few weeks. Hence, they need to visit a doctor for remedial measures
  • The skin irritation can be alleviated with calamine lotion, hydrocortisone cream, or via an oral or topical antihistamine.
  • The itchiness may also be reduced by soaking oneself in an oatmeal bath. One also needs to keep the underarms dry and cool by wearing loose apparels and use of absorbent power in the armpits
  • Pain and inflammation accompanying an armpit rash can be eased with pain killer drugs.
  • Severe cases of inflamed armpit rash may be treated with topical steroids prescribed by a doctor. Secondary infections of an armpit rash may require treatment with antifungal drugs or antibiotics.

One may prevent the development of an armpit rash by following the below listed precautionary measures:

  • Contact dermatitis can be avoided by identifying the irritant causing the condition and then discontinuing its use. In most cases, an armpit rash is generally caused due to a specific brand of deodorant. If that is not the case, then one can discontinue the use of a particular shampoo, detergent used for laundry, lotions, etc. one and one and identify the culprit.
  • Heat rash can be avoided by not being outdoors in hot weather conditions. If one needs to go out, then wear loose clothes made of cotton or other porous fabrics. Also, avoid the use of creams, powders, etc. on the skin as it can choke the pores and prevent the evaporation of sweat.
  • Friction can also be avoided by wearing loose apparels and preventing excessive perspiration of the armpits.
  • If an armpit rash tends to persist despite following the preventive steps, then it may be caused due to some sort of skin allergy. In such cases, patients need to consult a dermatologist to test for allergies.
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