Skin Care

Can Your Deodorant Cause Dark Underarms?

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By Apollo 24|7, Published on- 28 April 2022, Updated on - 22 July 2023

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As the summer sets in, it’s time for those sleeveless outfits to leave the comfort of the wardrobe and make you shine like a fashionista. But dark underarms may make you more conscious and ultimately steal the fun of wearing those cool and comfy sleeveless outfits. While pigmented underarms are not something to worry too much about, they can be a matter of concern for many of us. The article explores the various causes of underarm darkening and treatment methods in detail below.

What causes dark underarms? 

Pigmented or dark underarms are a problem that can be caused by multiple factors such as: 

  • Deodorants and antiperspirants: These products contain different kinds of chemicals such as paraben, alcohol, fragrances, etc. that can inflame your skin. Over time, the inflammation causes the thickening and darkening of your skin.
  • Shaving: Dark underarms may occur when melanocytes (pigment cells) in your skin multiply at an unusually rapid rate. Excess production of melanocytes can result from irritation caused by repeated shaving of the underarms. 


  • Hyperpigmentation: It is a skin condition characterized by the excess production of melanin (skin pigment) by melanocytes. You may experience hyperpigmentation due to increased levels of a hormone that plays a key role in melanin production. 
  • Melasma: It is a condition that causes the formation of dark patches on your skin. Melasma mostly affects people with darker complexion. Hormonal issues, stress, and thyroid disease are known to increase the risk of the condition. 
  • Acanthosis nigricans: It is a pigmentation disorder that occurs when cells on the outermost layer of the skin start reproducing rapidly. Acanthosis nigricans is mostly caused by high levels of insulin in the blood. It can also be caused by obesity, medications and other medical conditions. 
  • Erythrasma: It is a skin infection caused by a bacteria called Corynebacterium minutissimum. Erythrasma usually appears in the folds of the skin such as the underarms and elbow folds. The risk of this infection is high for people who live in warm and humid regions and those with medical conditions such as obesity or diabetes. 
  • Addison’s disease: It is a hormonal disorder that occurs when your adrenal glands (located on top of the kidneys) are unable to produce enough cortisol and aldosterone hormones. The darkening of the skin is one of the primary symptoms of the disease.

Smoking, frequent exfoliation, and wearing tight clothes are some of the other factors that may make your underarms darker. 

How to prevent it?

In most cases, it is possible to prevent further pigmentation of the underarm skin. Some of the measures that can help are: 

  • Change your deodorant: Replace your chemical-based deodorant with a herbal or natural alternative. You can also switch to baking soda or apple cider vinegar to help prevent body odour. Patch test the product before using it on the underarm. 
  • Stop shaving your underarms: If you wish to get rid of underarm hair, then opt for waxing or laser hair removal treatment instead. 
  • Exfoliate: Use a gentle scrub to exfoliate your underarm skin. Limit exfoliation to not more than 3 times a week. 


  • Wear loose-fitting clothes: Tight-fitting clothes, especially those made with synthetic fabrics, can cause excessive friction. This friction can facilitate the accumulation of sweat and cause pigmentation of your underarms. 
  • Quit smoking (if you do): According to research, smoking increases the concentration of melanin pigmentation in the skin and leads to hyperpigmentation. This causes further darkening of the underarm skin.

Dr Srabani Ghosh Zoha, a dermatologist associated with Apollo 24|7, states that “Initially the doctor examines if the darkness is just pigmentation or contains textural changes. Sometimes people can also have infections, inflammations, or allergies such as atopic dermatitis or allergic contact dermatitis that can leave pigmentation on the skin. However, if the darkening of the underarms is accompanied by excessive weight gain, it is believed to be due to the activity of the Insulin-like growth factor hormone that is associated with obesity. Depending on the cause, the doctor would recommend some creams, oral medications, chemical peels, or laser treatment to reduce pigmentation efficiently."

Medical Treatment For Dark Underarms

If the underarm pigmentation is a result of a skin condition, then your physician may prescribe one or more of the following treatments: 

  • Recommend use of skin care products with ingredients, like:
    • hydroquinone
    • corticosteroids
    • retinoic acid
    • kojic acid
    • azelaic acid
  • Skin exfoliation with chemical peels with alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) and beta hydroxy acids (BHAs)
  • Skin cleansing with dermabrasion or microdermabrasion
  • Pigmentation removal with laser therapy


If the underarm pigmentation is a result of a serious medical condition such as diabetes, Acanthosis nigricans, Erythrasma, or Addison’s disease, then treatment would focus on resolving the underlying condition. 

Pigmented underarms can be embarrassing for many, however, it is possible to prevent and treat the condition efficiently. If making the aforementioned changes does not help you deal with pigmented underarms, you may consult an expert dermatologist near you who can help you overcome the problem.

For more information,

Consult Dr Srabani Ghosh Zoha Now


Medically reviewed by Dr Sonia Bhatt.

Skin Care

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