How to Get Rid of Armpit Pimples, Zits, or Pimple Like Bumps

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How to Get Rid of Armpit Pimples, Zits, or Pimple Like Bumps
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Pimples, zits, and red infected bumps can affect your armpit just as much as other parts of your body. Underarm pimples can appear in your left or right armpit for a number of reasons. For example, incorrect shaving techniques, ingrown armpit hairs, clogged pores, bacteria, and sweat can all result in pimple-like bumps in your armpit.

In some cases, bumps that appear in your armpit area are the result of an allergic reaction or irritation. Some deodorants and antiperspirants, clothing, or laundry powder contain ingredients that irritate the delicate skin in your underarm. The result can be patches of red bumps that have a blister-like look.

There are many natural remedies that help to get rid of underarm pimples and zits. Some effective home treatments that have antibacterial properties include tea tree oil, witch hazel, apple cider vinegar, and baking soda. Also, a warm compress, oatmeal scrub, and aloe vera have an anti-inflammatory effect that can help to relieve armpit irritation. These natural ingredients can help to soothe redness, itching, and a burning feeling associated with underarm pimples and bumps.

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In this article, I will look at many of the reasons why pimples can appear in one or both of your armpits. I will also examine in detail many natural home remedies for armpit pimples and bumps that are backed up by medical research.

Symptoms of Underarm Pimples

Because your underarm area is usually dark and moist, it becomes a breeding ground for bacteria and germs.

Pimples or pimple-like bumps in your armpit could appear as a small rash with a collection of bumps, or you might just have one or 2 pimples. If bacteria and germs have infected the sweat glands or pores in your left or right armpit, red swollen lumps that are filled with pus could appear. These small bumps may look like acne zits and cause discomfort and may bleed when your underarm skin rubs together.

If the infection goes deeper, you may end up with an armpit boil or cyst. Dr. Melissa Conrad Stöppler on MedicineNet says that boils develop into hard, pus-filled firm red lumps that are tender to touch. These can often affect the armpit area or the groin.1

Other skin conditions can cause acne-like infections in the armpits where you may notice whiteheads or blackheads.

Causes of Pimples, Zits or Pimple Like Bumps in Armpit

Let’s look at some of the main reasons why zits and pimples can develop in your armpit.

Ingrown hairs

Ingrown underarm hairs may turn into bumps when shaved hairs grow back into the skin causing one or more pimples to appear.

Doctors from the Mayo Clinic say that an ingrown hair will cause tiny bumps, inflammation, and pain in the shaved underarm area. The underarm pimples may fill with pus and become very itchy.2

Sometimes, ingrown hairs after shaving are called razor bumps.

Inflamed hair follicles

Hair follicles can become inflamed and cause underarm pustules that are red and sore.

Expert in dermatology Dr. Amanda Oakley says that folliculitis causes tender red spots and can affect any part of the body where hair grows. Inflamed hair follicles can be caused by bacterial, fungal, or viral infections of the skin.3

Armpit abscess

An abscess in your right armpit or left one will cause a hard, red bump that is sore to touch and fills with pus.

Dr. John P. Cunha on eMedicineHealth says that abscesses often affect the underarm area. They may form a white head in the middle of the swollen lump in your armpit. If not treated correctly, the infection can go deeper and the bacteria-infected pus can get into the bloodstream.4

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Bacterial infection

According to Dr. Carol DerSarkissian on WebMD, bacterial infections of the armpits are very common and can cause a number of issues. For example, armpit rashes, boils, cysts and abscesses can all be due to underarm bacterial infections.5

Allergies

An allergic reaction on your underarm skin could result in a bumpy rash that itches and is very red.

The American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology reports that red bumps or welts on the skin are a common symptom of an allergy.6 It could be that your deodorant or item of clothing is causing the allergic bumpy rash on your underarm.

Hidradenitis suppurativa

Underarm pimple-like bumps could be caused by a condition called hidradenitis suppurativa.

The American Academy of Dermatology reports that hidradenitis suppurativa causes pimples in the armpits that can become acne-like cysts and blackheads. These underarms bumps can become painful and leak pus or even blood.7

Natural Remedies for Healing Armpit Pimples, Zits or Pimple Like Bumps

Underarm pimples are treated using various home remedies to kill off bacteria and soothe any itching and irritation in your armpit.

Here are some of the best natural remedies for getting rid of pimples, zits, and pimple-like bumps in your armpit.

Good hygiene

First and foremost, good underarm hygiene is essential to help get rid of armpit pimples and prevent them from recurring.

Regularly washing your armpits will help to remove old sweat, bacteria, and germs that could infect your skin’s pores. It’s also important to keep your armpits as dry as possible to prevent creating an environment where skin infections can flourish.

You should also remember that antiperspirants actually block up your pores and may lead to more itching and pimples in your pits. Did you know that you can make your own homemade deodorant using coconut oil? It will not just help to keep smelly bacteria at bay but give your armpits a pleasant smell.

Proper hair removal

To prevent ingrown hairs causing swollen red zit-like bumps in your armpits, you should shave your armpits properly.

Doctors from the Mayo Clinic recommend lubricating your armpit before shaving to get the closest shave. You should always use a sharp razor and use downward strokes to remove hair with a razor. This will help to prevent skin irritation and ingrown hairs.8

Warm compress

If you have a large boil or infected pimple in your armpit, placing a warm compress can help to soothe the pain and drain the bump.

According to Dr. Melissa Conrad Stöppler on MedicineNet, heat from the compress increases circulation to the infected area and speeds up healing. Also, warmth can help to bring the boil to a head and drain it. This results in less pain and discomfort when the pressure from the inflamed boil has been released.9

How to make a warm compress for healing underarm boils or pimples:

Here is how to make a warm compress using Epsom salt to get rid of a boil naturally.

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  1. Mix 1/4 cup Epsom salt with 3/4 cup hot water and stir until the salt is dissolved.
  2. Dip a clean washcloth in the remedy and squeeze out the excess water.
  3. Put the warm compress on your armpit and leave for 30 minutes.
  4. Dip the washcloth in the warm water every so often to keep the compress warm.
  5. Apply the warm compress 2-3 times a day and continue applying until the large pimple or boil has gone completely.

Using a warm compress will help remove a pimple that won’t pop. If the armpit boil is very large, Dr. Conrad Stöppler says that it may need to be lanced by a medical professional.

Tea tree oil

Tea tree oil can help to treat armpit pimple-like bumps because of its antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties.

A review of the medicinal properties of tea tree oil found that it is effective in treating acne pimples. A solution containing 5% tea tree oil was just as effective as benzoyl peroxide, a pharmaceutical acne treatment. The natural tea tree oil acne remedy also caused fewer side effects than benzoyl peroxide.10

How to use tea tree oil for treating armpit acne:

Tea tree oil is one of the few essential oils that can be applied directly to small areas of skin. To use tea tree oil as a spot treatment, this is what you should do:

  1. Put a drop or two of tea tree oil to the end of a clean cotton bud.
  2. Gently apply the natural remedy to the underarm pimple to kill off any bacteria on the skin and help reduce inflammation.
  3. Leave to dry.
  4. Apply 2-3 times a day until the redness around the pimple has disappeared.

If you need to use tea tree oil on a larger area of your underarm, you should mix it with a carrier oil like coconut oil (3-4 drops for 1 tablespoon of carrier oil).

Coconut oil

Virgin coconut oil is a moisturizing natural oil that can soothe irritation caused by inflamed zits or pimples in your armpit.

Coconut oil contains large amounts of lauric acid which can help combat many skin infections naturally. For example, the Journal of Investigative Dermatology reported that lauric acid has antibacterial activity. It was found that lauric acid destroys acne-causing bacteria and can reduce inflammation around pimples.11

How to use coconut oil to remove pimples on armpit:

The best way to use coconut oil for healing pimples and acne-like bumps on your armpit is to mix it with a few drops of tea tree oil. This is how to make the remedy.

  1. Take 1 tablespoon coconut oil and mix in 3-4 drops of tea tree oil.
  2. Gently massage a little of the healing remedy to your pimple and surrounding area to help reduce inflammation and kill off germs.
  3. Use the natural ointment 2 times a day until your underarm is pimple-free with no irritation.

Aloe vera gel

You can use aloe vera gel to soothe underarm irritation and help large pimples in your armpits heal quickly.

The benefits of applying aloe vera to your armpit skin are that it is a powerful anti-inflammatory agent. A review of the health benefits of aloe vera found that it can be used to treat acne.

The Indian Journal of Dermatology reported that aloe vera contains skin-enriching enzymes that have a healing effect on damaged skin. Some of these enzymes are anti-inflammatory compounds. It was also reported that aloe vera has an anti-pimple effect.12

Also, the Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology said that aloe vera is an effective natural moisturizer for acne-prone skin.13

How to use aloe vera for treating armpit pimples:

Aloe vera gel is applied directly to a pimple in the underarm area to help get rid of them quickly. This is the treatment method:

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  1. Use good quality aloe vera gel and apply a little to the armpit pimples.
  2. Gently massage the aloe vera remedy until it is all absorbed into the skin.
  3. Use 3 times a day to get rid of underarm skin irritation and pimple-like bumps.

Oatmeal scrub

Oatmeal makes a great gentle scrub to remove dead skin cells from your armpits and reduce armpit pimple inflammation.

Regarding the use of oatmeal in dermatology, a review of its beneficial properties found that oatmeal is a gentle skin-healing agent. For example, clinical trials have shown that oatmeal is anti-inflammatory and can combat outbreaks of pimples and infected skin bumps. It also soothes itchy patches of skin that are caused by allergic reactions.14

How to exfoliate your underarm with oatmeal to heal underarm bumps:

An oatmeal scrub is an excellent way to prevent hair follicles in your armpit becoming blocked with dead skin cells and germs. This scrub will also help to prevent ingrown hairs turning into pimple-like underarm bumps.

This is what you should do:

  1. Take 1 tablespoon of ground oatmeal and mix with some water to make a thick paste.
  2. Gently rub the oatmeal remedy to your underarm area using circular motions.
  3. Leave for 10 minutes to help reduce any inflammation and rinse with warm water.

Because oatmeal also has moisturizing properties, your skin should feel clean and silky-smooth after.

Witch hazel

You can quickly remove irritation and redness from an armpit pimple by applying witch hazel to the red bump.

Witch hazel can help to reduce the size and irritation of an armpit pimple because of its anti-inflammatory activity. For example, the Journal of Inflammation reported that witch hazel can treat many skin disorders. Witch hazel acts as an antiseptic to destroy germs in the armpit and also an astringent to tighten skin pores.15

How to use witch hazel as a remedy for armpit pimples:

It couldn’t be easier to use witch hazel to get rid of underarm pimples fast. This is what you should do:

  • Dip a cotton wool ball in some witch hazel.
  • Gently apply the solution to your armpit to cleanse the area of germs and bacteria.
  • Hold the witch hazel cotton wool ball on the pimple for 5-10 minutes to help soothe irritation and reduce the pimple redness
  • Apply 2 times a day and continue using until your underarm is free from pimples.

Apple cider vinegar

You can use raw unprocessed diluted apple cider vinegar to treat a pimple in your armpit.

One of the ways that apple cider vinegar is effective for treating armpit pimples naturally is that it is antibacterial in nature. For example, the journal Advances in Wound Care reported that acetic acid (apple cider vinegar contains high levels of acetic acid) is an antimicrobial agent. It can help destroy many strains of bacteria, including those that are resistant to antibiotics.16

How to apply apple cider vinegar to zits in armpit:

Because apple cider vinegar can irritate the skin, it should always be diluted first of all. It is also wise to do a small skin test to see how your skin reacts. This is how to make your own apple cider vinegar remedy:

  1. Dilute raw apple cider vinegar with an equal amount of water.
  2. Soak a cotton ball in the solution and apply to the inflamed pimple or boil in your armpit.
  3. Hold for few minutes to reduce the size and irritation of the pimple.
  4. Remove the cotton ball and allow to dry.
  5. Rinse your armpit with clean water.

Baking soda

A baking soda paste is another excellent natural remedy for armpit pimples that can also be used to exfoliate your skin and dry up excess oil.

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According to a study on the healing properties of baking soda, it contains levels of antibacterial properties. These can help to kill off some strains of bacteria.

Also, the grainy texture of baking soda means you can use it as a gentle scrub to prevent ingrown hairs and unclog armpit pores from dirt and germs.

How to use baking soda on armpit pimples:

This is what you should do to clear up pimples from your armpit using baking soda:

  1. Mix some water with a tablespoon baking soda to form a thick paste.
  2. Dampen your armpit with some warm water.
  3. Massage the baking soda paste to your armpit to help unblock your pores and lift any ingrown hairs.
  4. Leave the baking soda paste for 10 minutes to help treat pimple like bumps.
  5. Rinse with warm water and apply a little coconut oil to moisturize your skin.

Honey

A dab of honey on your armpit pimple can do wonders to help heal the infection and soothe redness around the inflamed bump.

When using honey as a natural remedy for curing pimples, the best kind to use is Manuka honey. According to dermatologist Dr. Stephanie Gardner, Manuka honey has antibacterial and wound-healing properties. Active compounds in honey help to destroy free radicals and help the skin heal quicker. Dr. Gardner reports that many who use honey to heal pimples highly recommend its use.17

How to use honey for armpit pimples:

Here is my Manuka honey remedy for getting rid of pimples in delicate areas. This all you have to do:

  1. Use a clean teaspoon to remove a little Manuka honey from the jar.
  2. Apply the honey with clean fingers to the armpit pimple.
  3. Cover with a warm damp washcloth and leave for 20-30 minutes.
  4. Rinse off the honey with warm water.

Green tea

Green tea is another effective homemade remedy you can use to get rid of pimples in your armpit for good.

Green tea is full of antioxidants and can boost the health of your skin. Green is also antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory which makes it great for cleansing skin that is prone to pimples and zits.

According to the journal Antioxidants, green tea can control the skin’s sebum production and thus reduce outbreaks of acne. Green tea is also helpful in killing off strains of bacteria that cause acne flare-ups. 19

How to use green tea to cleanse your armpits:

To use green tea to help remove bacteria from your underarm area, this is what you should do:

  1. Place a green tea bag in a cup of boiling water and cover for 10 minutes.
  2. Dip a cotton ball in the green tea and squeeze the excess liquid.
  3. Cleanse your armpit with the green tea liquid to remove germs and old sweat.
  4. Hold the green tea compress for 10 minutes on the enlarged armpit pimple to help reduce inflammation and accelerate healing.

You can also use the green tea bag as a warm compress to help drain the armpit zit.

Should You Pop an Armpit Pimple?

If you have a large, pus-filled pimple in your armpit, it could be very tempting to pop the pimple. However, there are some reasons why it’s never a good idea to pop an underarm pimple.

Expert in dermatology Dr. Zakiya Rice says that the pus in a pimple or boil contains bacteria that is infectious. Popping a zit can cause the bacteria to spread to other pores and cause you to have an outbreak of unsightly pimples. Also, squeezing too hard could force the infection deeper into your skin and cause an even larger pimple or boil.18

However, if you are determined to get rid of an armpit pimple by popping it, dermatologist Dr. Cynthia Bailey recommends the following:

  1. Wait until there is a firm head on the pimple. Never attempt to pop a pimple that only has a red top and no sign of pus.
  2. Wash your hands.
  3. Sterilize a needle putting it through a flame and let it cool. Clean the needle with an alcohol swab.
  4. Clean the zit and surrounding area with an alcohol swab.
  5. Carefully put the needle through the top of the pimple and gently squeeze.
  6. The pus should drain easily. If you have to squeeze too hard, the zit isn’t ready to be drained.
  7. Wipe the pimple with an alcohol swab.

Armpit Pimples – When to See a Doctor

In the majority of cases, you can quickly and safely treat an armpit pimple at home with natural remedies. However, sometimes you need to see a doctor if you have a large boil or a severe outbreak of pimples in your underarm area.

For example, Dr. Melissa Conrad Stöppler on MedicineNet says that boils should only be lanced and drained by healthcare professionals. This is to prevent the bacteria infecting the bloodstream and causing complications.9

Read my other related articles:

Medical Sources

  1. MedicineNet. Boils.
  2. MayoClinic. Ingrown hairs.
  3. DermNetNZ. Folliculitis.
  4. eMedicineHealth. Abscess.
  5. WebMD. Picture of the armpit.
  6. ACAAI. Skin allergies.
  7. AAD. Hidradenitis suppurativa.
  8. MayoClinic. Adult health.
  9. MedicineNet. Boils.
  10. Clin Microbiol Rev. 2006 Jan; 19(1): 50–62.
  11. J Invest Dermatol.2009 Oct;129(10):2480-8.
  12. Indian J Dermatol. 2008; 53(4): 163–166.
  13. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2014 May; 7(5): 36–44.
  14. IJDVL. 2012;78(2): 142-145.
  15. J Inflamm (Lond). 2011; 8: 27.
  16. Adv Wound Care (New Rochelle). 2015 Jul 1; 4(7): 363–372.
  17. WebMD. Alternative treatments for acne.
  18. WebMD. Before you pop a pimple.
  19. . 2017 Mar; 6(1): 2.
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