Rashes can occur in all parts of the body depending on their causes. When they occur in your armpits, they can get quite irritating given the beads of sweat that are often in this region.
While rashes are a common occurrence and most of them go away without the need for medical intervention, they can also be signs of something serious.
What is an armpit rash?
This is a kind of rash characterized by a group of small blister-like growths on the skin which can go away with ease. The growths can be scaly and white, or bumpy and red in color and texture. No matter the look and feel of the rash, you will need to know their actual cause before taking any step against them.
A rash can last anything from a few hours to several months on end. The treatment methods available for the rash depend on their specific causes.
Here are pictures for identification and self-diagnosis.
There are four main types of rashes that occur in the armpits namely:
1. Staph infection
Staph is a type of staphylococcus aureus that is resistant to methicillin hence MRSA (methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus). It is resistant to all types of beta-lactam antibiotics.
The two types of staph infections are:
This kind of staph infection is linked to coming into contact with contaminated items and poor hygiene.
This type is associated with intravenous catheters and surgical procedures.
The most affected areas of the body as far as this kind of infection goes are the ones with cuts, rubs or scratches and those with body hair such as the beard, back of the neck, armpits and buttocks.
The rash will have a central head with a white or yellow center. The areas infected will be filled with fluid and painful to the touch. They may turn red as well.
2. Lymphoma cancer
When you have this kind of cancer, you may experience an itchy rash in the folds of the skin including the armpits, behind the knee and other areas. This is especially true when you have other symptoms such as swollen lymph nodes and lymphedema.
3. Hidradenitis suppurativa
Also called acne inversa, this is a condition characterized by pain, scarring, and skin abscesses. It is common in the armpits, the breasts, groin, buttocks, anus, legs, back, neck and the face.
While the actual cause for this skin rash bumps is not yet known, blocked apocrine sweat glands or inflamed hair follicles are the two most likely causes.
The solutions to this condition include:
- Surgical treatments
- Laser removal
- Biologics infliximab
- Vitamin A-based medications
- Corticosteroids and others.
4. Tinea axillaris or armpit ringworm
This kind of ringworms causes a rash that is crusted and scaly with red and round patches on the skin. Other symptoms include:
- Blister-like lesions
- Loss of hair in patches
Ringworms are easy to treat once identified correctly.
5. Antiperspirants and deodorants
When the armpit rashes you have are bumpy, itchy and red in color with occasional blistering, peeling, flaking or oozing, they could be a result of the beauty products you use especially antiperspirants and deodorants.
When this occurs, it is often due to the presence of allergens in these products.
If you get to realize that your beauty product is causing any bodily reactions, change to another brand. The problem may be that you don’t know exactly what causes the allergic reaction in the product. In such a case, use hypoallergenic brands among them:
- Almay Hypo-Allergenic Fragrance-Free Roll On
- Crystal Stick Body Deodorant for Sensitive Skin
- Mitchum Roll-On Unscented (antiperspirant)
- Stiefel B-Drier
This way, you can keep the rash away.
6. Contact dermatitis
This type of dermatitis occurs when you touch an irritant or allergen. If you have it in the armpits, it could be that the allergen or irritant is found in your lotion, deodorant, detergent or clothes you wear.
The initial stages of an HIV infection have a rash that can appear on various parts of the body including the shoulders, armpits, chest, and others.
In the first two months of the infection, you may have flat rashes with reddish spots or dark purple rashes for those with a light and dark skin respectively.
The rash caused by HIV is often not itchy and goes away in about three weeks. If itchy, you can use soothing creams and gels to keep off the itch.
The best way to know if it is caused by HIV is to have a test done as soon as possible. The test should be repeated severally for assurance.
8. Heat rash and sweat rash
When you have blocked sweat ducts, sweat will be trapped under the skin rather than out of the body. The results will range from small blisters red lumps. This condition is common in babies but adults can also have the same issue no matter their age.
An increase in the temperatures, coupled with heightened humidity, chafing and friction often lead to rashes in the armpits and general discomfort.
This condition often heals on its own without medical intervention. Preventing it requires proper ventilation to the underarms with loose cloths being chosen over tight ones in the summer.
You can soothe it away using hydrocortisone cream or calamine lotion.
9. Atopic dermatitis
Atopic dermatitis is often called eczema and is characterized by patches that are itchy, red and easily form crusts.
The condition is common in the folds of the skin such as the armpits, behind the knees and inside the elbows.
The constant itching can often lead to bleeding and they may seep some clear fluid.
When you have atopic dermatitis, you may have the symptoms pronounce themselves during certain periods while they completely disappear in other times.
10. Underarm shaving rash
You may have an armpit shaving rash if you use a razor that is dull or old. Shaving machines handled poorly also do the same to the skin.
With a shaving rash, the tool you use to shave may cause infections, ingrown hair, raised red bumps, razor burns, breakages and irritations to the skin. Even simply plucking or epilating hair can lead to the rashes.
If shaving causes rashes on any part of the body, you can choose the other hair removal methods such as shaving gels and creams, waxing, laser, and others.
11. Seborrheic dermatitis
When the skin becomes irritated due to the overproduction of the skin oil called sebum, the condition is called seborrheic dermatitis. The skin will thus have oily and scaly patches that are white owing to the excess oil.
When this condition occurs in small kids, it is called cradle cap and it will show up on the scalp, face, armpits and the ears.
12. Candida (yeast infection)
Also called candidiasis, Candida is basically a yeast infection caused by a group of fungus of the Candida family. This kind of yeast infection is common in the moist areas of the skin such as the underarms.
It is characterized by red rashes, scaling, itching and occasional swelling of the underarms.
Poor personal hygiene, having tight undergarments and hot and humid weather are among the factors that will worsen the situation as far as this rash is concerned.
Besides the list above, you may have the armpit rash due to various reason among them:
- Excessive sweating
- Bites and many others.
What to do
Once you notice this kind of rash, here are the steps and remedies you can put to use:
- First, identify the cause of the rash. If it a temporary case of too much heat, for example, it will go away on its own. On the timer hand, if it caused by an irritant or allergen, you need to identify the substance and stop using it immediately.
- You can then take a warm bath with colloidal oatmeal.
- Ensure you use unscented moisturizers as they have no irritants.
- Make use of anti-itch medication bought over the counter.
- A cool compress over the affected area can help in soothing away any discomfort occasioned by the rash.
- Avoid scratching the place as it only makes it easy to get an infection over a simple itch. Scratching opens up the skin leading to the easy entry of microorganisms into the body. This will cause infections thus further escalating the issue.
- Try to relax as much as you can. When you relax, you can easily fight off the urge to scratch yourself. Also, keeping off stress helps in keeping dermatitis in check given that some forms of dermatitis are worsened by stress.
These tips will be your first line of action each time you notice a rash anywhere on the skin.
Complications with underarm rash
Evens when most rashes on the body are cases you can ignore, your actions determine what next after the rash has appeared. If, for example, you scratch the area and do not practice good hygiene, you could have the area infected with fungi or bacteria causing more problems than you initially had.
Besides that, some causes of the rash such as the different types of dermatitis can be made worse with other prevailing conditions leading to further complications.
All in all, you should know the cause of the rash to know what to do and what not to do.
The first step to take in keeping away an armpit rash is to have proper hygiene. That entails bathing on a regular basis and drying yourself out properly. Rather than using a towel which may only make the situation worse, you can air dry.
If you’ve had the rash before, try to identify the actual cause of this issue. This may be tedious work but it contributes immensely to the solution you will be seeking. It could be a soap, a deodorant, a type of clothing material, a chemical in the water you use, a drug, or any other substance. It could even be the weather.
Avoid clothing materials that are synthetic since they tend to trap sweat and lead to skin reactions. Even if you have no allergic reaction to the actual materials, you may need to switch that with cotton as it allows for the proper circulation of air. Even with cotton clothing, avoid the very tight ones. This is especially true for undergarments which cover sensitive areas of the skin.
Keep your skin ventilated at all times. This entails using baby powder in the armpits if you are in suspicion of a developing rash. You should also keep your environment free of allergens such as pollen and others. This may require the use of an air conditioner fitted with the capability to remove dust and pollen (and other allergens and irritants) from the air that enters the home.
Treatment and home remedies
Unless the rash is really painful or accompanied by serious symptoms, you can treat it on your own at home or use over the counter medications. At home, you can do the following:
- Reduce the urge to itch by placing ice cubes on the affected area.
- Focus on eating a lot of fruits and vegetables as they contain large amounts of vitamin C. This vitamin helps in fighting the symptoms of skin infections besides helping you grow healthy skin.
- Every once in a while, use a fresh lemon as a natural deodorant in your armpits. This juice kills the bacteria found there thus fighting off rashes and other skin blemishes.
- You can fight off most fungal infections, irritations and itching using natural remedies such as coconut, lavender and tea tree oil.
- Over the counter remedies such as calamine lotion and hydrocortisone cream can be used to quell the inflammation and irritation.
- Most anti-fungal and antibacterial medications can be used to prevent infections from these microorganisms.
- Anti-chafing powders can also be used in preventing irritations and chafing.
Keep in mind that using the right home remedy will go a long way in solving the issue with the rash.