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Itchy Armpits

Last reviewed by Dr. Raj MD on January 12th, 2022.


At some stage in their lives everyone will have suffered at least once with the discomfort and annoyance of itching armpits. This unpleasant medical condition is sometimes difficult to treat because it has many different causes. Once you understand the most common causes of itchy armpits it can be the key to helping your relieve the condition and to avoid what is causing the itching in the future.

Causes of Itchy Armpits

As stated, there are many different reasons why a person would have itchy armpits which can include:

  • Toiletries – this is the most common cause and includes soaps, body washes, and deodorants. Sometimes these items have an ingredient or fragrance which your skin is allergic too. It could also be that the formulations of the products are too harsh for your skin, especially if you have sensitive skin. If this is the culprit you may have redness along with intense itching.
  • Laundry detergent – if this is the cause the itching is not usually confined to the armpit area but will appear on whatever part of your skin that the clothes touch.
  • Using the wrong shaving technique – this includes not using shaving cream or using a dull razor. In addition to having itchy armpits you may also have skin that is irritated and dry.
  • Bras – in some women their bra can cause you to have itchy armpits because the bras can contain materials they are allergic too like rubber, elastic, nickel, and latex.
  • Exposure to allergens – this can include poison ivy, poison oak, insect bites, etc. The itchy armpits can result from coming into direct contact with the allergen or wearing something that has been exposed to the allergen.

Treatment for Itchy Armpits

  • Toiletries – In order to know if any of these are the reason for itchy armpits is to stop using the products one at a time for several days to see if the itchy quits. If you start to use a new toiletry product and you start itching then it is easy to know what is causing it. If this is the cause then you should discard the offending one and try another product that is formulated especially for sensitive skin.
  • Laundry detergent – you should stop using the laundry detergent and try another brand. It may take several tries before you find one that will not cause itching.
  • Using the wrong shaving treatment – make sure that you use shaving cream and lather up your underarms really well. Make sure that you change razors often and after shaving wait awhile before you apply antiperspirant or deodorant.
  • Bras – you should switch to a bra that is made from natural materials.
  • Exposure to allergens – if you know that you are allergic to poison ivy or poison oak know what the plant looks like and avoid getting around it. You can also make sure that when you are out hiking you are wearing long sleeves. Make sure that you wash thoroughly the clothes that you wear outdoors to make sure that there are no traces of the allergen are left on the clothes.

To help with the itching you can use one percent hydrocortisone cream or anti-itch cream and apply it to the area two to three times a day. If the itching does not go away or you are not sure just what is causing it you should see your physician or dermatologist to find out the cause and what they recommend for treatment. They may give you a prescription for a stronger anti-itch cream or ointment to use. Make sure that you do not use any deodorants or shave under your arms until the itching goes away. If you shave or use deodorant they can increase the itching and may cause the itch to last longer.

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