Itchy Armpits: Causes and Effective Natural Treatments

Itchy Armpits: Causes and Effective Natural Treatments
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Itchy armpits give you an irritating sensation of a constant need to scratch them to get rid of the tickling or tingling feeling. Very often the itchy underarm area can have a rash, red bumps, swelling, inflammation and the skin can be dry and flaky. You might try to get relief from the itchy armpit by scratching, but that can lead to infections, which make the armpit itch even more. But there are many effective home remedies to treat the cause of itchy underarms and get rid of the itch for good.

The medical term for itch is pruritus and this can cause itching in any part of the body, including the underarms. Although an underarm itch is often accompanied by a rash, with some conditions there is no armpit rash. For example, shaving, fungal infections, and bacterial infections often cause an itchy armpit with a rash. However, excessive sweating or allergic reactions to deodorants can cause itchy underarms with no rash.

Knowing exactly what is causing your armpits to feel itchy can help you know how to relieve the condition. This article looks at the many causes of itchy armpits and looks at natural home remedies to get relief from underarm itch.

Causes of Itchy Underarm

Usually, the causes of an itchy underarm are quite harmless. However, the armpit itch can range from a mild tickle to a severe itch that causes discomfort and embarrassment. Here are some of the most common and some, not so common, reasons for an itchy armpit.

Shaving

If you shave your underarm area with a dull razor blade or don’t soften the armpit enough, your armpits could become itchy and develop razor burns after shaving. One of the best ways to make sure that your armpits aren’t itchy after shaving is to always use a clean, sharp razor.

It’s also important to make sure that the underarm skin is well lubricated and moist. For this, it is usually easiest to shave your armpits in the shower. After your shower, massage a small amount of coconut oil or jojoba oil into the armpit to help moisturize the underarm skin and avoid itching. Always try to keep your razor clean and dry between shaves to ensure that there is no buildup of bacteria.

The bacteria on old razors can cause another condition called folliculitis which is an inflammation of the hair follicles. Dr. Kathleen Romito on WebMD says that folliculitis looks like red pimples that have a hair in the center. Folliculitis can cause intense itching and the follicles can become infected. She recommends that you don’t scratch the itchy armpit area and if you must shave your underarm, change the razor each time.

Aloe vera can help to soothe itchy armpits after shaving. All you have to do is apply a little aloe vera gel to the shaved area for relief from itching and to help the skin heal. One study into the healing properties of aloe vera showed that it is just as effective as 1% hydrocortisone cream.2 Dermatologists usually recommend hydrocortisone cream to reduce itching and swelling, however, it can cause irritation, dryness, and even folliculitis.3

Aloe vera is also one of the many natural remedies to get rid of razor burns.

Eczema

If you have an intense itch with a rash under your arms it could be a sign of eczema. With outbreaks of eczema, the skin often becomes dry and flaky. Eczema (contact dermatitis and atopic dermatitis) is often caused by an allergic reaction to something touching your skin. Eczema in the armpits can cause redness, blisters, and itchiness.

Sometimes, the material your bra or other items of clothing are made of can cause contact dermatitis. Or it could be caused by soaps, lotions, or other cosmetic products that come into contact with your underarms.

If you have an itchy red rash in your armpits, it is recommended to identify what triggers eczema outbreaks. For example, try changing your laundry detergent, or the soaps that you use.4 At the end of this article, you can read about various natural home remedies to soothe the itch from eczema.

If you suffer from eczema, stress can also cause underarm itching to get worse. A study into the effects of stress on atopic dermatitis (eczema) showed that higher anxiety levels cause more itching.5 There are many ways that you can use to reduce stress naturally which can, in turn, help you get rid of the itching caused by eczema.

Deodorant

Very often the itching and discomfort that you have in your armpit can be caused by your deodorant. Dermatologist, Dr. David Bank says about itching in the armpit that the underarm area is more prone to allergic reactions. Also, the moist and warm environment is a breeding ground for bacteria.6 Very often with allergic reactions to deodorant you get an underarm itch with no rash.

Many of the ingredients in deodorants, such as aluminum, alcohol, and fragrances can cause allergic reactions on your skin.

You can switch to natural coconut oil deodorant which is less likely to cause irritation to your skin and keep you smelling fresh throughout the day. You can also make your own natural lavender deodorant.

Fungal infection

Many people who have an intense itch in their armpits along with a rash and scaling suffer from a fungal infection caused by Candida. Because candidiasis occurs in moist, warm areas of the body, it is important to keep those areas as dry as possible.

Dermatologist, Dr. Denise M. Aaron says that candidiasis commonly affects the mouth, groin, the armpits and between skin folds of the breasts and stomach. People who have a weakened immune system or who take antibiotics are more susceptible to developing a yeast infection.7

Antifungal treatments can help to get rid of the underarm itch caused by candida and you can find some natural antifungal remedies for itchy skin at the end of the article.

Bacterial infection

Occasionally, a bacterial infection can be the reason that you have an itchy armpit. As with fungal infections, the warm moist underarm area is the perfect place for bacteria to grow. Good hygiene can help to prevent a buildup of bacteria. Therefore, it’s important to wash the armpits at least once a day to keep them clear of sweat and dirt.

It’s not uncommon for bacterial infections to cause an abscess in the armpit. An armpit abscess can cause itching at the early stages and when it’s healing. It’s important not to scratch the abscess so that it doesn’t get worse. Dr. Melinda Ratini on WebMD recommends applying a warm compress to an abscess for 30 minutes 4 times a day.8

Intertrigo

A common reason for itching in the armpits is intertrigo. Intertrigo is another name for a rash that occurs between folds of skin and it causes intense itching in the underarm area. The rash can be red or reddish-brown and very often the skin can become cracked and emit a foul odor.9

To prevent an itchy underarm rash, it’s important to have a good routine of personal hygiene and keep the armpits as dry as possible.

Inverse Psoriasis

An itchy red patch in the armpits that looks shiny is possibly a symptom of inverse psoriasis. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to treat inverse psoriasis because the underarm areas are prone to irritation and sweating.

As with all forms of psoriasis, the Mayo Clinic recommends trying to avoid triggers that can make the itching and other symptoms worse.10

Heat Rash in Armpits (Miliaria Rubra)

If you have small itchy red bumps in your armpit or upper torso after you have been working out or doing intense exercise you could have a heat rash. This happens when the sweat ducts become blocked and cause small red spots that itch or cause a prickling sensation. Heat rash is also one of the causes of rash on inner thigh.

To avoid the itching that comes with heat rash the Mayo Clinic recommends not wearing tight-fitting clothing and trying to keep yourself as cool as possible.11

Hidradenitis suppurativa

Hidradenitis suppurativa is a condition which shows up as small itchy red bumps in the armpit along with blackheads. It is thought that this condition occurs because of a blockage in the sweat and oil glands.

To help treat and prevent a reoccurrence of the condition, doctors recommend keeping the area clean and dry but to avoid irritating the skin. A warm compress can also help to soothe itchy underarms and it can also relieve armpit pain.

Do you suffer from itchy armpits when breastfeeding?

It may be surprising, but many women suffer from armpit rash when pregnant or breastfeeding. Apart from the causes already mentioned here in the article, many women experience itching while breastfeeding their baby.

Many nursing mothers say that their armpits really itch when their milk let’s down. However, there seems to be little research into the exact causes of why some mothers have an itchy armpit while breastfeeding.

Is armpit itching a sign of breast cancer?

The charity Cancer Research UK says that a rash and itching is more likely to be eczema or another skin condition rather than cancer. In very rare cases itchy breasts and armpits can be a sign of cancer, for example, inflammatory breast cancer, but it is usually accompanied by other symptoms.13

If you notice any unusual changes in your breasts, it is always best to speak to a healthcare professional to rule out any serious condition.

If you are concerned about breast cancer, then please read my article on the 5 unconventional signs of breast cancer.

Natural Treatments for Itchy Armpits

There are many effective home remedies that can be used to treat itchy armpits naturally.

Aloe Vera and Coconut Oil for Razor burns

To treat razor burns after shaving you can use a mixture of aloe vera and coconut oil. This mixture helps to soothe the skin and prevent infections from developing. Many studies have shown that coconut oil can help to heal and also prevent skin infections.14

To make a soothing aloe vera and coconut oil lotion to prevent an itchy underarm rash, please refer to my article on how to make DIY aloe vera & coconut oil mixture. Then apply to the armpit after shaving to prevent underarm itching and a rash.

Apple Cider Vinegar for Eczema

Raw unprocessed apple cider vinegar (ACV) is one of the 11 natural cures for eczema that you can use to soothe itchy rashes in your armpit. You can either use the ACV topically for instant relief from itching or add some to a bath.

To use apple cider vinegar for treating an itchy armpit, you can do the following:

  • Mix together equal amounts of raw apple cider vinegar and water.
  • Dip a cotton ball in the liquid and apply to the affected underarm skin to relieve the itching.

For a soothing bath to relieve itchy skin you can add 2 cups of ACV to a warm bath and soak for at least 30 minutes.

Coconut oil hydrates, nourishes and soothes the skin so it is an excellent home remedy to soothe dry and flaky skin caused by eczema. It is a very simple home remedy to moisturize your skin. All you have to do is gently massage a small amount of coconut oil into the itchy skin in your armpit.

Tea Tree Oil and Coconut Oil for Fungal infections (Candida)

A combination of tea tree oil and coconut oil makes a great antifungal treatment for itchy underarms. Both coconut oil and tea tree oil have proven results in killing off Candida infections. 15, 16

If you have an itchy armpit because of a fungal infection you can mix 2-3 drops of tea tree oil with a tbsp. of extra virgin coconut oil. Apply 2 – 3 times a day to the affected area to stop the armpit itching. The tea tree oil also helps to kill off bacteria that causes underarm odor.

If your armpit itch is caused by Intertrigo or a heat rash, you can also use the coconut oil and tea tree oil remedy to stop the itching. I also have more ideas on how to treat intertrigo in my article on how to get rid of a rash under breasts.

Oatmeal for Psoriasis

To get relief from the itchiness in your underarm which is caused by psoriasis, you can use the treatments for dermatitis and eczema. Another effective method that has proven results in helping to soothe itchy skin caused by psoriasis is an oatmeal treatment.

Oatmeal has many properties that can help you to get rid of rashes and scaling skin.17 Dermatologist, Dr. Debra Jaliman recommends soaking in an oatmeal bath if you have psoriasis.18 You should add about 2 cups of finely ground oatmeal to a warm bath and soak for at least 20 minutes to get a relief from any type of itchy skin.

After your bath, you can use some pure virgin coconut oil to moisturize your underarm skin.

For other ideas, read my article on how to naturally treat psoriasis.

Warm Compress for Folliculitis

If inflamed hair follicles cause your underarm itch then Dr. Kathleen Romito recommends using a warm compress with salt water to soothe the itchy skin.19

All you have to do is dissolve a few spoonfuls of salt in two cups of warm water. Soak a cotton ball or small hand towel in the water and wring out the excess water. Then place the compress on the affected skin. Repeat this morning and night. This can help to draw out the infection and stop the itch.

Read these related articles:
1. Armpit Pain – Causes and Effective Natural Treatments
2. How to Get Rid of Armpit Rash: The Best Natural Remedies
3. The Best Natural Home Remedies to Get Rid of Underarm Odor
4. Itchy Skin After Shower – Causes and Treatments

Resources:
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2 Responses to Itchy Armpits: Causes and Effective Natural Treatments

  1. Kristy Vasquez says:

    Hi how many times daily do I apply the coconut oil and alo vera under my armpits? And what kind of coconut oil do I use? Please reply as soon as you can thank you 😊

    • Jenny Hills says:

      Hi Kirsty, you can apply it to the armpit after shaving or whenever you feel the itch. Coconut oil and aloe vera are gentle on the skin and can be applied 2-3 times a day or as needed. The type of coconut oil you need to use is virgin (often called “unrefined”) coconut oil.

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