Why do I have dark underarms or why are my armpits dark? How can I get rid of this blackness? Get insight on dark armpits or underarms including causes, best whitening creams to use, home remedies to lighten or bleach your black armpits, treatments and much more.
This is a skin discoloration problem that makes one’s underarms to appear darker one’s normal body skin tone. It affects women and men of all age sets though Hispanic and African American women have been noted to have a higher prevalence, according to Mayo Clinic.
As any lady and you will get this answer ‘I have dark armpits or my armpits are dark and I wish I could whiten or lighten them’. Truly, having mild black underarms or very dark ones can be particularly embarrassing and it might affect your confidence and how you dress as you try hard to hide your armpits. Most will want to avoid swimsuits as well as shirts that are sleeveless.
Why are my armpits dark? It is normal for anyone to wonder why his or her armpits or underarms are so dark or black and sometimes itchy. There are many reasons for not only underarm darkness but also dark inner thighs, groin, and even neck region. Some of the most common causes include
1. Dark skin under armpits after shaving
If you have darker colored armpit hair, expect this issue after shaving. The darkness is due to the appearance of your cut hair follicle which are just below your skin surface i.e. sub-surface hairs will appear dark. Sometimes, your underarms can be itchy if a sharp razor is not used.
If you have very dark ones due to shaving, consider plucking or waxing your armpit hairs. These two hair removal options will make the remaining hair less visible thereby reducing the dark appearance of your underarms.
Note: Even if you opted for waxing or plucking, just like shaving, some micro abrasion will cause small wounds which darken and thus you will still have dark colored armpits. Permanent laser hair removal might be recommended.
2. Darkness due to dead skin cells buildup
Another is the accumulation of dead skin cells on the microscopic bumps on your skin. This accumulation can also cause dark spots. To solve underarm darkening due to dead skin cells accumulation, try exfoliating with products that have lactic acid for excellent results.
3. Deodorant and antiperspirant use
Some people have reported that some antiperspirants or deodorants they are the dark armpits cause and even reported change when they stop using them. Although rare, there could be a likelihood that some ingredients could cause dark skin under armpits. Try switching your current deodorant or antiperspirant.
4. Black underarms acanthosis nigricans (diabetes)
This is a medical condition that causes this issue as well as the darkness around the “groin, neck, elbows, knees, knuckles, or skin folds. Lips, palms, and soles of the feet” [healthline.com]. Your skin will have dark patches as well as be thick with a velvety texture.
Acanthosis nigricans affects men and women and it commonly occurs in darker skinned people and the obese. Furthermore, it has been associated with “insulin production or to a glandular disorder” [thebeautybrains.com] i.e. affects people who are pre-diabetic or diabetic or those who are likely to suffer from diabetes.
This problem also affects people with “Addison disease, pituitary problems, hypothyroidism, or those undergoing growth hormone therapy, using oral contraceptives or cholesterol medications containing nicotinic acid [livestrong.com]. To deal with it, try lightening products with Retin-A, salicylic acid, alpha hydroxy acids, 20% urea, glycolic acid or lactic acid.
Going on with causes, hyperpigmentation could also be responsible for your this problem on your underarms, inner thighs, groin, and neck areas. It happens when your skin produces too much melanin but rarely affects armpits. If hyperpigmentation is what causes armpit darkness, consider the various treatments, remedies, and creams for whitening or underarm bleaching we will discuss.
6. Bacterial Infection
Still on causes, erythrasma, a bacterial infection caused by Corynebacterium minutissimum that cause “reddish-brown slightly scaly patches with sharp borders. They may itch slightly. The patches occur in moist areas such as the groin, armpit, and skin folds” [nlm.nih.gov]. The infection is common “in warm climates. You are more likely to develop this condition if you are overweight or have diabetes” [nlm.nih.gov].
Tropical erythromycin gel and antibacterial soap will help you deal with the problem. In extreme cases, you might need to take pills
7. During pregnancy
Some women suffer from this problem during pregnancy. This is due to a lot of hormonal changes that might increase melanin production especially estrogen that increase production of melanocytes, cells that produce melanin. Dark armpits while pregnancy is a periodical problem that causes not only uneven skin tone but also dark skin underarms, on your nose and on your upper lip. The discoloration normally goes away after pregnancy.
However, to some people, the hyperpigmentation due to pregnancy persists. On how to whiten them during this time including darkness on, upper lip or nose due to pregnancy, try the various home remedies, treatments and creams we are going to discuss afterward.
8. Tight clothing, too much rubbing and friction
If our underarms are always rubbing against something, hyperkeratosis or skin thickening might occur as a means of body prevention against the rubbing irritation i.e. post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. This often comes with hyperpigmentation. Wear loose and smooth clothing to reduce contact, rubbing and stains on clothes.
To avoid changes in bacterial growth, go for absorbent clothing avoiding synthetic ones since they will not absorb sweat. Your armpits are supposed to be dry. Try lotions with tretinoin (found in Retin-A) as well as “oral medications, such as isotretinoin, and dermabrasion, which may help to reduce the thickness of the affected skin” [health.howstuffworks.com].
9. Other reasons
- Armpits scratching – After shaving, waxing or plucking your underarms, your underarm skin might be itchy and encourage pleasurable scratching which might discolor your armpits.
- Overweight – as already mentioned, obese or overweight people tend to suffer from this problem due to acanthosis nigricans, bacterial Infection or even underarm friction.
- Fungal infections especially when your armpits darkening occurs with some mild itch
- Some medications have been found to cause skin color changes including contraceptive
- Excessive exposure to UV light encourages melanocytes cells to produce the melanin that will make your skin dark colored.
- Trauma, scarring, and injuries on underarm
- Genetic factors
These are the main cause. The question “why are my underarms dark” should by now be fully and comprehensively answered. It is time to look at how to deal with this problem. Before trying any of the underarm skin whitening remedies, treatment or cream, ensure you know the cause. Otherwise, you might be treating a wrong cause where you are likely to fail.
How to reduce, get rid, cure, treat, fix, eliminate, clear, lighten or whiten them mean the same thing; solutions, attempts and ways to try to minimize or diminish the dark skin appearance in your armpits. We are going to discuss the various ways to get rid of dark underarms in three broad approaches which will be the use of underarm whitening creams, natural or home remedies as well as other cures and treatments options available.
To clarify, most the ways can also be used to get rid of dark knees, groin area, neck area, inner thighs or as well as other body parts. Similarly, men and women can use these methods since they do not gender specific. The specific treatment you chose might be dependent on what causes black underarms.
With bleaching cream
Understating the philosophy behind creams for skin whitening and for this case underarm bleaching cream is paramount in ensuring successful usage and obtaining desired results. Any good armpit whitening cream should not only eliminate darkness but also prevent it from happening by controlling melanin production i.e. “skin pigment is ultimately produced based upon the actions of the enzyme tyrosinase which catalyzes the chemical production of melanin. Shut down tyrosinase activity and you prevent further discoloration from forming” [dermadoctor.com].
Do they work or what to look for
There both prescription strength creams as well as over the counter whitening creams which can be used to lighten, whiten or bleach them.
To tell if a certain cream will be effective, look at its active ingredients. Some of the active ingredients should include hydroquinone, steroids, retinol (common in Retin A), tretinoin (helps in exfoliation process, gets rid of already formed pigment in epidermis), hauronoside (found in mitracarpus scaber extract and prevents tyrosinase action), and arbutin (found in bearberry extract or uva ursi leaf extract and it inhibits tyrosinase activity). Arbutin and hauronoside are the two sister molecules of hydroquinone that works similarly.
As of now, “FDA only recognizes hydroquinone as a "bleaching agent". That means that many other ingredients incorporated into products must be referred to as lighteners, brighteners or whiteners” [dermadoctor.com]. Other ingredients that might be helpful include
- Alpha hydroxy acids (especially lactic acid-glycolic acid that help in cellular exfoliation),
- sutilains - betters penetration of ingredients that reduce melanin),
- Melatonin - lightens hair follicles
- Kojic acid - inhibits tyrosinase activity and “melanocytes treated with kojic acid additionally lose their dendrites which reduces the ability of these cells from passing on any residual pigment onto the keratinocytes” [dermadoctor.com.
- Paper mulberry -inhibits tyrosinase activity
- Azelaic Acid - acts only on the highly active melanocytes
- Vitamin C - reduces melanin formation as well as work as antioxidants
- Gluconic Acid – as a chelating agent, it binds with copper molecules that would instead be used to activate tyrosinase enzyme
- Licorice extract – has glabridin that stops activation of tyrosinase
- Beta Carotene - found in carrot oil and blocks tyrosinase receptor
- Dithiaoctanediol – prevents tyrosine activation being sugar-free whereas sugar molecule is required for tyrosinase enzyme activation.
When using skin bleaching creams or underarm bleaching cream, apply them on the area with darkness only and not nearby areas that might have lighter tones since they will be lighter and discontinued ones you have achieved the effect you wanted. Most underarm bleaching creams require longer usage, typically up to 6 months for results to be seen.
Best or most effective underarm whitening cream
One way of identifying the best underarm whitening cream is looking at ingredients present. We went into details to explain to you what some of the common ingredients in armpit lightening cream will achieve.
Before opting for any of the below best armpit whitening creams, ensure you read as many reviews, customer feed and rating to ensure it works. Patient history including the cause of dark skin armpits will also be important. Some of the best underarm whitening creams to go for include:
- Belo underarm whitening cream
- Dove True Tone underarm dark mark eraser (dove underarm whitening cream)
- Nivea Whitening Smooth Skin Roll On
- Ponds underarm whitening cream – They have a wide range of whitening products such as Pond's Flawless White Visible Lightening Day Cream
- Mayfair 1 Week Whitening Armpit Cream
- Yoko Whitening Cream with Papaya Extract
- Plato's Medicinals Dark Scar Corrector
- Melarase AM and Melarase PM system
- 1 weeks Whitening Armpit Cream & Dark Shadow Cream
- Pink Privates
These are not the only best creams. This is only a representation of some of the good and effective brands available. We would like to know which good underarms whitening cream you are using to include it on your list.
Where to buy these creams
If you are looking for places to buy one of the above very effective underarm whitening creams, you can buy them online or at the local drugstore. Some of the common places where you will find them include target.com, CVS, Boots, Walmart, Walgreens, among others. Whether you are in Australia, India, Korea, UK, Philippines, Singapore, US or anywhere else, you cannot miss some of these creams locally or online.
Natural and homemade whitening cream
If you would like to try your own homemade cream to remove the darkness at home, it’s all about getting ingredients that have bleaching ability either by working on melanin or reducing its formation. If you use natural ingredients, you will have a natural armpit whitening product or cream.
Note: Hydroquinone has been associated with skin irritation, increased darkening on treatment site (ochronosis), affects fetal growth, etc. and thus not products containing it are available in Europe and South Africa. However, FDA is still behind the product.
If you opt for the DIY, natural or home remedies to get rid of this hyperpigmentation, there so many options. Just like other dark armpits solution, they can be used to lighten or whiten dark skin not just on your armpits but also on your inner thighs, knees, knuckles, elbow, neck area or any other place that has darker skin. However, ensure you go for the proven effective options that will give you quick results.
We are going to discuss a few of the best home remedies for quick results and mention many others whose information you can find online. So what are some of the good home remedies for black underarm?
Baking soda is often mentioned to be among the most popular remedies for dark underarms. It works as a scrub to exfoliate your armpits getting rid of any dead skin cells that could be making them appear dart. Baking soda can be used alone or with other products such as rosewater,
To get rid of dark underarms with baking soda, mix it with water to make a thick past and apply it on your underarms and scrub gently. Wash it off. This should be repeated a few times a week. You can also white your underarms with a solution of water and baking soda.
Another good home remedy to remove dark underarms you should give a try is lemon. This home remedies for black underarm works as not only as a bleaching agent but also as an antiseptic and antibacterial agent. After using it, a moisturizer will be recommended since it can dry your skin.
To lighten underarms with lemon, rub a wedge-shaped lemon piece on your underarm for a few minutes. Leave it there for about 10 minutes before rinsing it off. This will both whiten your underarms as well as remove dead skin cells. Sprinkling some sugar on the lemon piece will give better results. Do this twice to thrice a week.
A mixture of turmeric powder, natural yogurt, and lemon juice can also be applied on your black armpits and let to stay for 10 minutes before washing it off. Do this three times a week.
Potatoes are mildly acidic and they work well as natural armpit bleaching agent with minimal skin irritation. To use this rub a potato slice on your underarm or extract juice and apply it. Rinse after 20 minutes with warm water. Do this twice a day.
Another way is the use of turmeric. Turmeric is effective in skin irritation, blemishes and pigmentation because of its anti-inflammatory properties [doctorasky.com]. Mix rice and turmeric powder in equal ratios and add tomato juice and milk to make a past. Apply the past on underarm and leave it there for 30-60 minutes. Rinse it off with lukewarm water. Do this twice a week.
Natural bleaching properties that can whiten dark skin. Rub slice or use juice. A mixture of lemon and turmeric works well too.
Exfoliates and lightens the skin beneath your arms. Dried, ground peels are mixed with rosewater and milk to form a thick paste that is rubbed on armpits. Rinse after about 15 minutes with cold water, 2-3 times a week. This is how you can use orange pills to lighten dark armpits.
Can milk help
Softens and lightens skin tone. 1 tablespoon of full-fat milk + 1 tablespoon of flour+ 1 tablespoon of plain yogurt. Apply the paste on your armpits and leave it there for 15 minutes before washing off with cold water.
Kills germs and lightens underarms. Mix it with rice flour to form a thick paste. Apply it on your armpits immediately after a hot shower, give it time to dry before washing off with warm water. Do this a few times a week.
Helps to whiten underarms and removes odor. Mix 2 tablespoons of sandalwood powder to rosewater to a thick paste, apply it on your armpits, let it dry and wash off with cold water. Do this daily for quick results i.e. in a few days.
Gram floor whitening pack
Mixed with lemon juice and yogurt or turmeric powder to make a whitening pack. Put the past in your underarm for 30 minutes before rinsing off, daily for two weeks followed but using it thrice a week.
Other home remedies
Others include pumice stone (scrubbed to remove dead skin cells), massage with coconut oil (has vitamin E that can lighten skin), olive oil (antioxidant), vitamin E oil, saffron, mashed apple scrub, rubbing calamansi slice twice a day, etc.
For fast results at home
Obviously, you want to know which among be above remedies will whiten armpits fast at home. Most of the dark underarms home remedies that bleach your skin will take a longer time to show results. However, those that exfoliate dead skin from underarm might give quicker results. However, faster results can be obtained if a remedy is used consistently.
Another rather more expensive option on how to lighten underarms is going for the various treatment options available. Most of the underarm whitening treatment procedures will be recommended to people whose armpits are so dark. Little darkness due to friction and rubbing can be handled with the various home remedies or whitening creams. Most of these treatments require advice from a dermatologist before considering them. Some of the dark underarms treatments you should consider include:
a). Laser skin resurfacing
Laser treatments are not only for wrinkles, acne scars, tattoo removal, sun spots, age spots, freckles, birthmarks, hair removal, dermal lesions removal etc. but can also be used in the whitening dark skin including the one on your armpits. It is one of the fastest and most effective underarm whitening treatment.Opt for laser after knowing the cause, trying home remedies and the various underarm whitening products and creams.
Laser skin lightening “procedure that works by directing concentrated beams of light energy on the dark spots to help remove the skin layer by layer” [illuminatural6i.com]. There are various laser skin whitening techniques used that can make your hyper-pigmented and discolored armpit skin tone lighter and even. Some of the common laser types used include Erbium Laser, Pulsed-dye Laser or PD, Nd: Yag Laser and Intense Pulse Light or IP.
Some of the benefits of laser include providing quicker results i.e. instant armpit lightening and enhancing your skin. It might have a few side effects such as swelling, itching, tightness, scarring, bruising, skin texture changes, burning sensation among others.
What is its price?
Laser skin whitening procedures are costly. Expect to spend between $150 and $350 for whitening your underarms per sessions. You will need up to 5 underarm whitening treatment sessions for great results.
Where to find laser skin whitening
Are you looking for specialists in dark underarm treatment? They are anywhere be it in Philippines, NYC, Australia, Singapore, UK, Dubai, etc. Just google! In fact, underarm whitening Singapore and underarm whitening Philippines are trending and booming and thus you are likely to get treatments if you are in these areas.
b). Chemical peels
Another way to them is going for chemical peels which uses “acid solution is used to remove the damaged outer layers of the skin” [docshop.com]. Normally, alpha hydroxy acids (AHA), phenol, retinoic acid, Beta-hydroxy acid (BHA), among others or trichloroacetic acid (TCA) is used to exfoliate dead cells and outer skin layers. This reveals newer, even toned and textured skin. Chemical peels will make your armpit skin smoother and remove any skin pigmentations that are uneven.
There is an option of deep chemical peels that take longer to recover (several months) and it may require sedation. It uses stronger chemical peels such as phenol that actually bleach underarm skin. It is ideal for very dark or black ones. Furthermore, people with wrinkles, precancerous growths, age, and sun exposure blotches will benefit from the procedure. Some of the best chemical peels to go for include
- Diamond Infused Facial Peel - Forever Flawless
- Brighten 70% AHA Vitamin C Skin Peel Kit
- Infinite Skin Professional Skin Lightening Peel
- Skin Obsession 25% TCA Chemical Peel for Home Use
- Agera Rx Peels
- CosMedix™ Chirally Correct Peels
- Jessner’s acid peels (salicylic acid, lactic acid, and resorcinol)
- ZO controlled depth peels
Others are Green Peel, Innovation Concept Peel, Jan Marini Peels, Obagi Blue Peel, Compositum Peels, LA peels, Neostrata ® Peels, Mene & Moy ® Peels, among many others.
This is a non-chemical abrasive technique to treat hyperpigmentation that removes any skin flaws i.e. this treatment is designed for “hard-to-treat problems on the underarms, hands, calves, chest, back and legs like blemishes, scars, dark spots and chicken pox marks” [bioskin.sg]. It removes dead skin, make any areas that are dull whiter, rejuvenates your skin as well as improve skin texture.
Before opting for any of the above cures, ensure you get as much information as possible including how the treatments work, expected results i.e. how effective are the various cures what they actually do to your skin, before and after armpit whitening treatment, any risks, precautions as well as underarm whitening treatment price or costs you will incur.
d). Other Treatments
Botox treatments – help reducing sweating and odor. Excessive sweating can cause darkening underarms
Deodorant for black armpits
There are some deodorants that can help reduce this darkness. Some of the best deodorant for dark underarms lightening include
- Dove whitening deodorant
- Rexona Skin Light Underarm Whitening Deodorant Roll-On
- Extra Whitening Roll On - Nivea
If dark spots
If you have underarm patches or dark spots, most of the treatments, home remedies, and creams will be of much help in clearing or removal of these skin blemishes.
For quick, instantly, overnight results
If you are looking for means to lighten or whiten underarms fast, instantly, quickly, overnight, or in a week, you should consider the various treatments since they will give you quicker results. Home remedies will take a little longer. Some home remedies are claimed to give results in a week or two weeks.
Best ways and products
Which is the best underarm whitening approach and what are some of the best underarm whitening product? It depends on the cause of darkness, how quickly you want it removed, the costs you might incur and safety concerns you have. Treatments such as laser might give quick results but they are expensive, some creams might give permanent results but they take longer while home remedies will be ideal for mild darkness cases.
Prevention is better than cure, how do you avoid this problem? Try the below tips for tips to help:
- Scrub your armpits at least twice or once a week
- Control diabetes, exercise regularly and eat healthy foods that help control diabetes
- Wear lose absorbent clothes made from natural fibers
- Eat a healthy diet with less of sugary, starchy, refined and fried foods they increase toxins build up in the body while taking more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
- Stop electrolysis hair removal
- Avoid hair removal creams
- Shower daily
References and sources
- The Beauty Brains: http://thebeautybrains.com/2006/12/the-top-5-causes-of-darkened-armpits/
- Healthline: http://www.healthline.com/health/acanthosis-nigricans#Definition1