The way we care for our armpits isn’t one-size-fits-all. Some people choose to embrace their hairs, while others never miss a laser appointment. Some prefer spraying on an antiperspirant over swiping on a natural deodorant stick. There’s also a difference in the way people approach hyperpigmentation, or darkened skin, under their arms. This natural (and very common) occurrence can leave some unbothered, while others are looking for a way to even out the skin in that area. As the saying goes: To each their own.
If you are looking to brighten the skin under your arms, you’ve likely come across a few time-lapse videos on Instagram of quick, do-it-yourself hacks, like lemon masks and sugar scrubs. But are those natural ingredients actually effective? We turned to dermatologists to answer all our armpit hyperpigmentation questions, ahead.
Why do we get dark armpits?
Darkened skin in the underarm area is very common and can happen for a number of reasons, according to dermatologist Sheel Desai Solomon, MD. “Many people develop darkened pigmentation under their armpits similar to the darker skin on the knees, elbows, groin, neck, or underbelly,” she says. Darker pigmentation under the arms can be genetic, just like many other skin changes. Dermatologist Candrice Heath, MD, also notes that those with darker skin are more likely to get darkened armpits as they are more prone to hyperpigmentation.
Your health can also play a role in skin changes. Science has found a correlation between pigmentation and diabetes, and darker armpits can sometimes be considered a warning sign for the condition. “Studies have shown that people with diabetes have a higher propensity to be affected, as insulin can interfere with pigmentation in the skin,” says Dr. Solomon. A similar insulin imbalance can cause darkened skin in people with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a disorder that affects hormones and can ultimately cause an overgrowth of the skin. In both cases, your darkened armpits might be something called acanthosis nigricans, and you should see a dermatologist for diagnosis and treatment.
On top of genetics and underlying health conditions, there are a few external factors that can cause darkening in the area. Deodorants and antiperspirants have ingredients that can irritate the skin, and any inflammation can lead to a thickening — and darkening — of the skin over time. “Many antiperspirants use aluminum as an active ingredient,” says Dr. Solomon. …read more