Ever feel embarrassed to raise your arms while wearing a tank top because it looks like a dark cloud has been cast over your armpits? It turns out that suffering from underarm darkening and discoloration is not that uncommon. So what causes underarm darkening?
1) One explanation for underarm darkening is that your skin is irritated from shaving and using deodorants. Shaving with a razor blade and/or using deodorants that contain ingredients like alcohol or fragrance can be extremely irritating to your skin.
2) Hormonal changes related to pregnancy and Addison’s disease can increase melanin production that can lead to underarm darkening.
3) Underarm darkening, or axillary darkening might also be a sign of early diabetes or insulin resistance. Too much insulin can overstimulate skin cells. This leads to thickening and darkening of the skin in certain areas, including under the arms. In severe cases, the skin can take on a thick, velvety appearance. Dermatologists refer to this condition as acanthosis nigricans, and they see it most often in people of African descent.
So how can you treat it?
1) Opt for laser hair removal instead of waxing, plucking, or shaving.
2) Make an appointment to discuss more powerful in-office treatments, like microneedling with kojic acid or chemical peels.
3) Choose deodorants or antiperspirants that don’t contain ingredients like alcohol, fragrance or aluminum chloride. These ingredients may cause irritation, which can lead to discoloration.