Dark Underarms: Causes, Prevention and Treatment

Girl with dark underarms by

Many of us have sleeveless garments in our closets that we’ve always wanted to wear but never did. Especially when the hotter months come along, wearing that tank top or summer dress becomes all the more tempting. But there is something that worries many of us whenever we consider going sleeveless: dark underarms.
Darkened armpits are a common and perfectly natural occurrence. But if you feel uncomfortable wearing certain clothes because of them, then you can look into different treatments available to help you whiten your underarms for a more even complexion.
In this article, we’ll help you learn more about what causes dark armpits, how you can prevent them from darkening, and what options you can avail of to keep your underarms smooth and even.

What causes dark armpits?

Your underarms normally appear in the same shade as the rest of your body. But sometimes, they can darken over time because of a variety of reasons. For most people, dark underarms are caused by something called post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH), which is a darkening of the skin due to irritation or damage.
The underarms can be irritated by different habits that we do every day, such as:   

Improper shaving or waxing

Girl with chicken skin armpits

Perhaps the most common reason for darkened armpits, shaving too harshly or without the use of lubricant may cause small, low-grade cuts that inflame the skin on your underarms. Similarly, the aggressive pulling of hairs via waxing also irritates the armpits, leading to hyperpigmentation over time. 

Inadequate exfoliating

The armpits may not be getting as much love when taking a shower, so this can lead to the buildup of dead skin cells left between your underarms. Aside from making your skin look dull, dead skin cells also prompt the skin to produce more pigmentation, leading to darkened armpits.

Wearing tight-fitting clothes

Your armpits (as well as your groin, elbows, and knees) go through a lot of rubbing and friction throughout the day, and wearing tight clothing only worsens the problem. 

Using irritating deodorants and antiperspirants

Your daily underarm product may unwittingly be the cause of all your hyperpigmentation woes. Some deodorants and antiperspirants use certain ingredients that can irritate the skin like fragrances and alcohol, which is a big no-no for those with sensitive skin.

Aside from irritation and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, dark underarms may also be because of hormonal disorders, such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). People with obesity and diabetes are also prone to getting darkened armpits as a side effect.

How can I prevent dark underarms?

For those that want to avoid the hassle of having to treat their dark armpits, preventing hyperpigmentation can be achieved by just a few small changes in our habits.

Develop a safer shaving routine.

Shaving is such an everyday routine that we may not notice that we’ve been doing it too harshly all along. Change your shaving habits to make sure that your underarms experience the least amount of friction.
Always use a lubricant such as a shaving cream, and change your razor when it gets dull to prevent any cuts. Apply a natural balm or moisturizing lotion to the area to soothe the skin after shaving.  

Use a chemical exfoliator.

Another good habit to develop is exfoliating the underarms once a week to get rid of the dead skin buildup. Buy a mild chemical exfoliator in-store, or create your own DIY recipe with lemon juice and aloe vera.
Stay away from harsh physical exfoliators like scrubs that have coarse microparticles. These particles can cause abrasions on the skin which only further irritate the skin and lead to darker underarms.

Avoid wearing fit and rough clothing.

Keep it breezy by preferring to wear breathable clothes over tight-fitting garments. This greatly decreases the friction that your underarms experience with every movement. Plus, you’ll feel more comfortable and relaxed throughout the day.   

Choose a mild deodorant

Pay attention to the ingredients list when shopping for a deodorant. Stay away from products that have clogging elements like aluminum and irritants like alcohol. If you have sensitive skin, go for a fragrance-free, moisturizing deodorant instead.

Opt for laser hair removal

Laser Hair Removal Light Sheer Diode Laser by

If excessive shaving and waxing continue to plague your underarms, laser hair removal is a fantastic option to keep those hairs at bay for longer. Because laser hair removal removes hair from the root, it also gets rid of the dark stain which may be caused by subsurface hair.
However, make sure to go to a trusted skin clinic if you intend to go through this treatment. Not all laser clinics can accommodate different skin tones and hair types. Consult with a board-certified dermatologist who can assess and perform the right laser treatment for your underarms.

How can I treat dark underarms?

Home remedies

There are several active ingredients for underarm lightening that are readily available straight from your home. Ingredients like lemon juice, licorice extract, and folic acids are proven to help brighten the skin.
Make sure to be cautious and stay on the mild side with these ingredients to prevent further irritation and worsening the problem. Mix these active ingredients with a soothing component like aloe vera and cucumber that can hydrate and nourish the skin. 
If you’re not seeing any noticeable changes, perhaps it’s time to see a dermatologist who can recommend stronger treatments that can’t be found in your refrigerator.

Brightening creams

Obagi Nu-Derm BlendFx by

Several skincare products are on the market that are formulated with powerful active ingredients that can clarify, brighten, and even out the skin tone. A reliable option is the Obagi Nu-Derm Blend Fx, a brightening cream that is powered up with arbutin, antioxidants, and a chemical exfoliant that can transform your dark underarms to be smoother and whiter.

Obagi Nu-Derm Fx System by

If you want to maximize the benefit of the Nu-Derm technology, consider getting the complete Obagi Nu-Derm Fx System, a powerful skincare line specially designed to deliver dramatic brightening results.

Chemical peels and exfoliators

After assessing what your underarms need for brightening, your dermatologist can then recommend stronger treatments such as chemical peels and exfoliators. Boasting one of the newest designed procedures, the X3 Underarm Whitening Treatment is an innovative three-step exfoliation process that resurfaces brighter skin layers in just a few weeks.

Those with sensitive skin can still enjoy the benefits of a chemical peel with the Sensi Peel Exfoliating Axillary Treatment, a mild procedure that works well with any skin type. 


Laser treatments

Laser Hair Removal is a powerful treatment against hyperpigmentation, even for persistent dark areas like the underarms. Under the hands of a trusted and professional dermatologist, laser treatments like the  Light Sheer Diode laser  can drastically brighten your underarm area, as well as improve texture and shrink enlarged pores.

Should I consult a dermatologist for my dark underarms?        

No matter what treatment you use for dealing with your dark underarms, consulting first with a dermatologist is truly valuable if you want to see impressive and fast results. Your dermatologist can determine the underlying causes of your hyperpigmentation and use that insight to find the treatment that works best for your situation.
Meeting with your dermatologist is especially needed if you’re looking into using stronger medical treatments, such as laser therapy and peels with potent ingredients. The dermatologist can also design a program tailored to your skin concerns, combining different treatments into a powerful yet safe whitening regimen.
At HOO Dermatology, there are various treatments available for addressing the problem of dark underarms and other pigmentation issues. When you visit their clinic, you get to consult with a board-certified dermatologist to help you find the right treatments for your hyperpigmentation. With their help, you can create your very own HOO Beauty Plan, a personalized skin program tailored to your skin type and concerns so you can reach your skin goals.
The 360 Bare treatment is one of the available programs that was specially designed to smoothen and whiten dark underarms after only 12 weeks. This special program brings together the power of chemical peels, laser hair removal, and a full brightening skincare line to create a strong whitening regimen. HOO Dermatology is committed to designing programs like the 360 Bare Treatment to fit the individual needs and goals of all their clients.
Don’t let dark underarms stop you from wearing whatever you want. They are completely natural reactions of the body that are nothing out of the ordinary. But if you’ll feel more comfortable in your body if you had smoother, more even underarms, then there are different ways available to prevent or treat that hyperpigmentation.
No matter which treatment you wish to take, we recommend consulting with a dermatologist so you can find the best treatment that will bring you lasting results.