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Armpit Pimples: What are the Common Causes and Possible Treatments?

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Pimples appear on your face, back, chest, and shoulders, but not on your armpits? Surprisingly, a lot of people are confused by the causes of armpit acne. 

Armpits, due to their warm and moist environment, are an ideal breeding ground for acne-causing bacteria. This means pimples in the armpit are more of a common occurrence than you think. 

With that, here are several reasons why you get armpit pimples and how to treat them.

What are the common causes?

Folliculitis

This may occur anywhere on your body, including your armpits. It’s a common skin condition in which there is an infection in the hair follicles.  If you have this, you may notice that your armpit has small red bumps or white-headed pimples surrounding the hair follicle. The bumps might even be filled with pus if they progress. 

Mild cases of folliculitis go away on their own in a matter of 2 weeks. It can be relieved at home through a warm compress. But if they get serious, it is best for you to consult a board certified dermatologist for proper treatment as it may be caused by a bacterial, viral, or fungal infection.

Armpit folliculitis isn’t life-threatening, but it certainly can be uncomfortable and painful due to the burning sensation. It can also cause permanent hair loss and scarring in more severe cases

Razor Burns

Razor burns are born out of frequent shaving that irritates your skin. This is a form of superficial folliculitis that appears like a rash or small red bumps.

Are you still using your old and dull razors? Maybe it’s time to put that away. If you regularly shave to remove armpit hair, chances are it increases irritation on your underarm area. Moreover, using a dull razor to unmoisturized pits causes small breaks in the skin. This can lead to bacteria entering these cuts, which can cause boils or armpit pimples.

Razon burns produce a burning, hot sensation — aside from it being itchy and painful. The best way to deal with this is by replacing your razor, making sure the skin is moisturized before shaving, and refraining from shaving the area until healed. 

Contact Dermatitis

You might be using a deodorant, lotion, or moisturizer for your armpit to keep it smooth and in its best condition. However, if you’re wondering why you suddenly get underarm pimples that hurt or rashes that itch, then you might consider looking at the products you apply to your underarm. 

This condition is an inflammatory reaction to a chemical substance characterized by redness, swelling, itching, and pain in the affected area.

The two types of contact dermatitis are — allergic contact dermatitis and irritant contact dermatitis (the most common type). As its name implies, contact dermatitis can result either from an allergic reaction to a substance (allergen) or from an immediate reaction to an irritant (chemical). Common allergens may include fragrances or preservatives in the products you are using, while irritants may include harsh deodorants or soap.

When this happens, it is best to discontinue the use of the product until you get rid of the pimples or bumps under your armpit. And if you want to feel better faster, pay a visit to a board certified dermatologist so that they can recommend the best creams to relieve the itchy rash.

Hidradenitis Suppurativa

Also known as acne inversa, Hidradenitis suppurativa is a skin condition that causes painful lumps or boils beneath the skin. These lumps usually occur on the areas of your skin where there is friction, such as armpits, groins, or buttocks. 

It normally starts as pimple-like bumps. The bumps occur due to the abnormal growth of cells whenever hair follicles or sweat glands are clogged. Without treatment, the bumps may go deeper under your skin, grow wider, and turn into inflamed lumps. When the lumps have ruptured and healed, they leave deep scar tissue.

According to JAMA Dermatology studies, hidradenitis suppurativa increases the risk of skin cancer and is associated with obesity. However, experts still aren’t sure about the exact causes of this disease.

Ingrown Hairs

How you shave, wax, or tweeze contributes to the condition of your armpits. If you take notice, razor bumps on armpits appear after a few days of shaving before they turn into ingrown hairs. These are tiny pimple-like bumps on your underarm. It is probably the most common skin problem that can happen to anyone, especially when you wax or shave regularly.

It is said that those with curly hair, especially African Americans, Asians, and people of Middle Eastern descent are more prone to ingrown hairs than others because their hair is naturally curlier. The curlier your hair is, the more likely it is to curl back and grow inwards than outwards. 

Ingrown hairs typically occur a few days after shaving. They may appear like red, small raised bumps that can be itchy and bothersome. You will also notice a black dot under the bump, which is the trapped hair.

Normally, ingrown hairs resolve on their own. But, you still need to watch out for secondary infections that might form abscesses. Just like with razor burns, the best way to prevent this is to make sure you are applying the right shaving techniques. You can also consider looking for hair removal procedures that could address and lessen ingrown hairs.

What are the possible treatments?

No specific treatment can be the cure for all cases of armpit pimples. Treatment would highly depend on the cause of your pimples. It can be a combination of treatments such as topical or oral antibiotics.

In mild cases, home remedies or proper self-hygiene will aid in managing armpit pimples. Here’s a list of possible treatments to ensure the health of your armpits.

Exfoliate and Cleanse Regularly

Armpit pimples are mostly caused by bacteria buildup or clogged sweat glands which leads to skin infection. Exfoliating can help in removing build-up and unclogging your pores. When choosing a cleanser, always remember to go for pH-balanced and free from harsh chemical products. 

Regular exfoliation removes dead skin cells and helps in lifting ingrown hairs. Be mindful to not overdo exfoliation, doing so will result in skin damage. 

Due to the folds in your armpit area, it is likely to be moist which can harbor bacteria. Make it a habit to wash your armpits daily with a gentle soap  — even if you just stayed indoors and didn’t engage in activities.

Keep it Dry

If you experience excessive sweating, you may need to wash your underarms more often and use an antiperspirant. Sweat greatly contributes to armpit pimples. The bacteria multiply rapidly when they feed on sweat. If the sweat remains on the skin, your armpits are at risk for pimples and irritation. 

However, note that some antiperspirants could worsen your underarm concerns. The best way to deal with this is to choose a product that is hypoallergenic. Also, avoid antiperspirants with fragrances or irritants as they may contribute to certain reactions if you have sensitive skin.

Moisturize Frequently

Before shaving or waxing, moisturize your armpit as it helps in softening the skin that could prevent skin breaks and cuts. Moisturizer helps in hydrating your pits and is an effective way to minimize irritation — either caused by razor burn, ingrown hair, or itchiness. 

Shave Gently

Most of us, shave our armpits. While this is the case, it is best to know the right way of doing it to avoid razor burn, ingrown hair, and skin irritation that might lead to boils or armpit sores. 

First, make sure that you are using a razor with a sharp blade. This allows the razor to glide smoothly. Second, wet or moisturize your skin to soften the hair. Third, do not obsess about going over a certain area multiple times to prevent nicks. Fourth, moisturize after shaving.

Make it a habit to change your razor blades after a few uses. Again, using an old razor might lead to infection, skin cuts, and lumps in the armpit after shaving. And if you constantly struggle with shaving the right way, try looking for the best hair removal alternatives. Some of these can be laser or waxing.

Consult A Board Certified Dermatologist

Some cases usually resolve on their own or can be treated at home. However, some severe cases require medical attention, especially if the pimples appear to be filled with pus or an abscess. That said, medication or further treatment may need to be administered. 

Final Thoughts!

Just like any of your body parts, your underarms deserve the TLC it needs. Armpit pimples, more than being unsightly, are irritating and painful. Although they are common, they can be an indication of an underlying skin condition.

So, if your armpit pimples aren’t resolving or worsening, consult a healthcare expert immediately.

Related Questions:

Why do I get pus-filled bumps in my armpit?

Pus-filled bumps in the armpit are commonly caused by a bacterial infection of the hair follicles.  This infection creates a hollow space around the hair follicle and fills it with pus. 

Can I pop my armpit pimple?

It might be tempting to do, especially if it’s itchy and irritating. But, it is best not to do so as there is a greater risk for infection. Instead, you may apply a warm compress to alleviate the discomfort.

How do I get rid of ingrown hair in my armpit?

Gentle scrubbing and exfoliating help in softening and lifting the trapped hair, allowing you to tweeze it out. Remember, leave it alone if you are having a hard time getting it out on the first or second try. Repeated tries might cause inflammation on your skin.

Can deodorant cause armpit bumps?

These armpit bumps may be a skin reaction. Usually, it happens when your skin gets exposed to a product ingredient or chemical your skin is allergic to. 

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