Can You Get Eczema Under Your Armpits? | MyEczemaTeam

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Can You Get Eczema Under Your Armpits?

Medically reviewed by Raj Chovatiya, MD, PhD, MSCI
Posted on May 23, 2023

Atopic dermatitis, the most common form of eczema, can occur anywhere on the body. Most adults experience eczema symptoms on their hands, insides of the elbows, or backs of the knees. However, because the underarms are another area where skin folds and rubs against other skin, it should come as no surprise that eczema can pop up there as well.

“I constantly scratch. I’m tired of scratching. It’s really bad under my armpits right now, and I can’t stand the heat. Sweat makes it worse. I have to keep it dry,” lamented one member of MyEczemaTeam.

Another member shared that sweat also seems to trigger their eczema rashes. “I had a nice day with the husband and daughter, except for the fact that I wore a sleeveless dress and started itching and having a flare-up. It was not only on my hands but in my armpits as well,” they explained.

To prevent eczema flare-ups in the armpits, take special care in choosing the right deodorant and steer clear of anything that may irritate the skin. Here are some ways to deal with armpit eczema and other possible causes of skin symptoms in this area of the body.

Armpit Eczema Triggers

As with eczema in other places, managing armpit eczema requires you to identify any triggers, avoid irritation, and discuss treatment options with your doctor. If this is a new symptom, ask yourself if anything has changed in your lifestyle.

For example, have you started a new workout routine that’s making you sweat more? Or did you buy a new sweater or sleeveless top that’s triggering eczema under your arms? Are you using a new deodorant or antiperspirant? Finally, are you experiencing more stress than usual, and has anything changed about your diet or sleep habits?

If you can connect a new eczema breakout with a specific change, you can work on finding prevention strategies. But unfortunately, sometimes eczema symptoms can pop up seemingly out of nowhere.

Finding the Right Deodorant

Members of MyEczemaTeam have expressed concerns about itchy skin in the armpit area and wearing deodorant.

“How do I remove eczema in my armpits?” asked one member. “I’m not sure what started it, but I changed deodorants, and it seemed to make it worse. When I just clean my underarms and don’t apply deodorant, they seem to get a bit better. They are itchy, burning, irritated, and red,” she explained.

Other members had suggestions, including:

  • “Use an unscented deodorant or baking soda. Clean any sweat before applying it.”
  • “Try an aluminum-free deodorant. I am sensitive to a lot of antiperspirants and find the natural deodorants don’t make me itch.”

Switching to a different type of deodorant can make a difference, especially if you’re allergic to certain ingredients. Ingredients in deodorant and antiperspirant products that can be problematic for some people include aluminum, lanolin, parabens, and propylene glycol. In addition, fragrances are a common allergy, both for people with eczema and those without. Studies show that between 0.7 percent and 2.6 percent of people in the general population have an allergic reaction to fragrances. In patch testing of more than 1,900 people with eczema, more than 14 percent tested positive for fragrance allergies.

Read the labels and experiment with different brands to find out what works for you. Unfortunately, product labels don’t always list specific fragrances, but you can opt for fragrance-free deodorants to avoid them altogether. Also, remember to be mindful of fragrances in your laundry detergent and shaving cream, which may come into contact with your underarms.

Armpit Eczema in Children

Children don’t wear deodorant, but they can still be vulnerable to eczema symptoms in the armpit area caused by skin friction, sweating, or sensitivity to certain fabrics.

One mother shared their struggles: “My baby has dry patches on his ankles, always bumpy and itchy behind his knees, in his elbow creases, and his armpits. I’ve been using hydrocortisone for a year, which is starting to discolor him (he’s biracial). We take oatmeal baths, I use vitamin E oil, Vaseline, and Jergens Ultra Healing Lotion. Nothing seems to help. I’ve used Free and Clear laundry soap since before his birth. I use Free and Clear soap for him, and I still breastfeed, so it’s not a formula reaction. … Does anyone have any suggestions?”

Maintain regular communication with your child’s pediatrician when managing eczema symptoms. If you want to try a home remedy on the affected area or experiment with advice you read online, it’s always a good idea to run it by a qualified health care provider who can offer individualized guidance and assessments.

Other Causes of Armpit Irritation

When you have eczema, it’s easy to assume that’s the cause of any type of rash or skin symptoms. However, lots of people experience itchy armpits because of health conditions or other reasons aside from eczema. Other possible causes include:

  • Razor burn
  • Tight clothing, fabrics, or rough seams
  • Heat rash
  • Hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating)
  • Ingrown hair
  • Intertrigo (skin-to-skin friction)
  • Yeast infection
  • Certain types of cancer and cancer treatments
  • Diabetes

Shaving can be tricky when you have a skin condition. Medical professionals advise shaving after a shower when your skin is still wet. Use a shaving cream or gel that’s formulated for people with sensitive skin. Always shave in the same direction that your hair follicles grow to minimize irritation. Rinse your razor frequently while shaving, and store it in a dry place to avoid bacterial growth and skin infections.

Don’t hesitate to contact your doctor if you have pain or notice a lump in your underarms. This can signify a swollen lymph node, which means your body is fighting off an infection or disease. Paying attention to this symptom and getting evaluated to determine the underlying cause is essential. Swollen lymph nodes may be a sign of a temporary infection or a more serious condition requiring medical attention.

In summary, eczema can appear under the armpits. It’s a long-lasting skin condition that can affect different parts of the body, including this sensitive area. Taking good care of the skin by using gentle products and avoiding known triggers can go a long way in managing and preventing armpit eczema. If the symptoms continue, you may want to seek help from a health care professional who can provide a customized treatment plan.

Talk With Others Who Understand

MyEczemaTeam is the social network for people with eczema and their loved ones. On MyEczemaTeam, more than 47,000 members come together to ask questions, give advice, and share their stories with others who understand life with eczema.

Have you experienced an armpit rash related to eczema? What types of over-the-counter skin care products or prescription therapies have helped? Share your experience in the comments below, or start a conversation by posting on your Activities page.

Posted on May 23, 2023
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Raj Chovatiya, MD, PhD, MSCI is an assistant professor of dermatology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, Illinois. Learn more about him here.
Anastasia Climan, RDN, CDN is a dietitian with over 10 years of experience in public health and medical writing. Learn more about her here.

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