Deodorant for Eczema: 5 Things To Keep in Mind | MyEczemaTeam

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Deodorant for Eczema: 5 Things To Keep in Mind

Medically reviewed by Steven Devos, M.D., Ph.D.
Posted on September 13, 2023

Eczema flare-ups can leave your skin dry, itchy, and painful. When these symptoms hit a sensitive area like your underarms, they can significantly affect your quality of life and make wearing deodorant difficult.

“I’m having a bad outbreak in my underarms. It’s a really red rash, and so itchy,” said a MyEczemaTeam member. “Does anyone know of a good deodorant that has nothing bad in it? I’m desperate.”

Another member wrote, “I moved from New Jersey to South Florida, and my eczema flared severely in my armpits from sweating. Any advice on natural deodorants that won’t irritate or flare my eczema?”

Finding a deodorant that keeps you feeling fresh without making eczema symptoms worse is no simple task. However, keeping these points in mind can help.

1. Many Brands Contain Triggering Ingredients

When you have atopic dermatitis or another form of eczema, knowing your triggers (or ingredients that cause flare-ups) is essential to keeping your skin condition under control. To avoid common irritants, you can start by looking for deodorants labeled “hypoallergenic.” These products are designed to be less likely to cause allergic reactions or skin irritation. Checking the label for key terms like “dermatologist-tested” and “sensitivity-tested” can help you spot brands geared for sensitive skin.

In addition, fragrances and perfumes in deodorant are common allergy triggers. When shopping for deodorant, opt for fragrance-free or unscented formulas. Fragrances can contain allergens and chemicals that worsen eczema symptoms.

Other chemicals found in deodorants can also aggravate eczema symptoms. Some examples of potential triggers include:

  • Propylene glycol
  • Biological additives
  • Parabens
  • Lanolin
  • Vitamin
  • Essential oils

Check the label and opt for deodorants that are free from ingredients you know you’re sensitive to. Figuring out what’s best for you can take some time, but being aware of what’s in different products can help you learn.

2. Your Armpits Need the Right Moisture Balance

Eczema-prone skin needs hydration to protect its barrier function — that is, its ability to retain moisture and to keep out harmful substances and microorganisms like viruses. A deodorant with moisturizing properties prevents your skin from becoming overly dry. Ingredients like shea butter and glycerin can help keep your underarms from chafing or flaking. But remember, even a seemingly mild ingredient like aloe vera can cause skin to react with burning or itching.

Maintaining good hygiene is also crucial. Ensure you keep the underarm area clean. After showering, gently pat the area dry and apply your chosen deodorant.

Your clothing can also help you stay dry and clean. Opt for breathable, soft fabrics like cotton to avoid friction, excessive sweating, and irritation. Rough or synthetic materials can worsen eczema symptoms, especially if they’re tight under your arms.

3. Research Can Help Narrow Down Your Options

Before purchasing deodorant, read online customer reviews from people with similar skin concerns. Their experiences can offer valuable insights into how a product might affect eczema-prone skin, helping you make an informed decision.

Before applying any new deodorant to your underarms, do a patch test on a small area of skin. This step is crucial to determine whether the product triggers a reaction or worsens your eczema.

To do a patch test, you’ll apply a small amount of the product to your skin and leave it covered for 48 hours. You can choose a sensitive skin area that you can check yourself (like the arm folds), or you may go with a less sensitive, thicker skin area like the back. In the latter case, your health care provider can check your skin after 72 to 96 hours, looking for symptoms like a rash or hives.

Roll-on or cream deodorants tend to be gentler on sensitive skin compared to aerosol sprays or stick deodorants. The rolling or spreading motion minimizes friction and reduces the risk of exacerbating eczema symptoms.

If you’re not sure which deodorant to choose, consider talking to your dermatologist. They can provide personalized recommendations based on your specific type of eczema and medical history. Your dermatologist or allergist might suggest patch testing to identify which ingredients you’re allergic to.

4. You May Need To Change Deodorants Over Time

Even if you’ve found a deodorant that initially seems suitable for your eczema, it’s essential to watch your skin’s response over time. If you notice increased itching or discomfort in your underarm area, discontinue use immediately and reach out to your health care provider.

If your eczema worsens despite careful deodorant selection and use, or if you experience signs of infection like swelling or discharge, seek immediate medical attention. Eczema flare-ups can sometimes lead to secondary infections that require treatment.

Consistency is key when managing eczema-prone skin. Establish a daily skin care routine that includes applying your chosen deodorant. By sticking to a routine, you can better keep track of your skin’s reactions and address any issues promptly.

Remember, too, that sometimes products that worked well for you in the past can become problematic. If your reaction changes, you may need to switch things up.

For example, one member of MyEczemaTeam described having to switch deodorants over the years. “I have a rash now and have experienced rashes off and on for 16 years. First, I found Schmidt’s deodorant and it worked for approximately 14 years. Then I broke out again and tried numerous brands, including Lume and Hiki. I used Vanicream; it doesn’t break me out but does nothing to stop the odor.”

5. Different Products Work for Different People

For some people with eczema, keeping their underarms fresh while managing their skin condition requires careful consideration and attention to their skin’s unique needs. By choosing fragrance-free, hypoallergenic, and moisturizing deodorants, doing patch tests, and maintaining good hygiene, you can strike a good balance between managing body odor and caring for your sensitive skin.

Members of MyEczemaTeam have shared tips about their best deodorants.

“I use Aveeno body wash and Suave deodorant and shampoo. They work for me,” explained one member.

“I’ve started using Tom’s Natural. I really need an antiperspirant in the hot summer months, so I’ll have to see what happens. There’s also a deodorant you might like called Crystal which is completely fragrance-free,” suggested another member.

Other people choose to forgo deodorant altogether. “I had improvement with coconut oil under my arms,” said one member. “I don’t put anything on my skin except some cortisone and Vaseline once in a while,” shared another.

People who don’t use deodorant recommend other ways to keep odors in check. One shared: “I wash my sweat after workout or tennis and get out of sweaty clothes ASAP. I shower with oatmeal body wash.”

Consulting your dermatologist and staying vigilant about your skin’s reactions will ultimately help you find the best deodorant for your eczema-prone underarms. Remember, everyone’s skin is different, so it may take some trial and error. It helps to stay flexible and be willing to use a different product or take a break from deodorant during flare-ups.

Talk With Others Who Understand

On MyEczemaTeam — the social network for people with eczema and their loved ones — more than 49,000 members come together to ask questions, give advice, and share their stories with others who understand life with eczema.

Have you had trouble with deodorant triggering your eczema or contact dermatitis symptoms? Did you find one that works for you? Share your experience in the comments below, or start a conversation by posting on your Activities page.

Posted on September 13, 2023
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Steven Devos, M.D., Ph.D. received his medical degree and completed residency training in dermatology at the University of Ghent, Belgium. 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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