What causes dark armpits—and what you can do about it

What causes dark armpits—and what you can do about it

How can you prevent dark underarms? What causes them, and how can you prevent them? We've listed everything you need to know about dark underarms, plus how to treat them if you've already got them.

Why Do You Have Dark Underarms?

In the interest of being formal for a moment, we should first clarify that that discoloration is hyperpigmentation, a generally harmless condition that causes different parts of skin to become darker than those around them. Hyperpigmentation itself isn't dangerous, and it's more common in people with darker skin since they have more melanin.

Let's talk about the dark underarms specifically. In most cases, hyperpigmentation under the arms is caused by irritation, such as shaving or using a harsh deodorant. You can irritate your underarm skin by shaving, rubbing, and scratching, which can cause hyperpigmentation. Your skin is completely unique; some deodorant formulas could cause hyperpigmentation for some people, especially if they are genetically prone to skin darkening.

Dark underarms can occur as a symptom of acanthosis nigricans, a skin condition in which skin darkens and thickens in folds of your body (such as your underarms, groin, neck, and other places). It's more likely to be caused by irritation if the darkening is limited to your underarms. In any case, if the darkening is apparent on the whole body, you should consult a dermatologist.


What Can You Do To Eliminate The Darkness Under Your Arms?

Over-exfoliating is the biggest DIY mistake both professionals see. You shouldn't scrub excessively with raw sugar, as it will only irritate the area, which can result in more thickening. It is recommended that you avoid harsh, in-store scrubs with sharp edges, as these could cause micro-abrasions.


Why Do Deodorants Cause Dark Underarms?

Several of the ingredients in deodorants, such as parabens, alcohol, and fragrances, can irritate the skin and cause inflammation, which leads to thickening and darkening over time. 

Aluminum is also an active ingredient in many antiperspirants, which clogs sweat ducts and causes dryness and pigmentation. Considering the skin is the body's largest organ, it tends to absorb everything applied to it leading to allergies, rashes, and contact dermatitis, especially in sensitive areas like the underarms.

Alternatives to Traditional Deodorants

Deodorants/Antiperspirants are frequently used to combat body odor, and aluminum salts, found in many antiperspirants, dry out the sweat but also clog up the pores, resulting in a darkening of the underarms. How do you get rid of sweat without the odor and pigmentation? We suggest using natural deodorants like Play Pits rather than using deodorants with chemicals that can be harmful and irritating - like aluminum. Deodorants with natural ingredients may not help reduce sweating, but by eliminating bacteria they can reduce body odor.


Armpits darken as a result of a number of factors. Whether or not you want to brighten the area, remember that every part of your body needs to be treated with care, including your armpits.

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