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What is an Underarm Rash?

By Madeleine A.
Updated Feb 20, 2024
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An underarm rash is a raised or flat irritation, often red, that occurs in the armpit. The underarm rash may itch and become painful. There are many causes of an underarm rash. Most commonly, the cause is allergic in nature. Frequently, a new deodorant or soap may be to blame. Often, new laundry detergents or never worn clothing may be the source of the rash, as well. In addition to allergic reaction, underarm rash may be related to medical conditions, such as fungal infections or psoriasis. In many cases, underarm rashes resolve on their own without any treatment.

Generally, the armpits provide a perfect breeding ground for fungus to grow. For this reason, fungal infections are a common source of underarm rashes. Typically, fungal infections that occur under the arms present with redness and severe itching. Sometimes, inflammation and a burning sensation are also present. Treatment for underarm fungal infections usually include anti-fungal creams or ointments. Topical antifungals are usually effective, but a physician may also recommend oral anti-fungal medication.

Frequently, a dermatological condition called psoriasis can cause an underarm rash. Normally, psoriasis refers to a condition were the skin becomes inflamed and scaly. Patches of the skin may even take on a silvery appearance. In addition to psoriatic patches and rashes occurring under the arm, they may also appear in the folds of the arm. Generally, topical hydrocortisone ointments are effective in treating underarm rash and inflammation of psoriasis.

Underarm shaving can also cause a rash because hair follicles can become infected. Normally, shaving the underarm area can cause irritation and friction which can also lead to infected hair follicles. This common medical condition is referred to as folliculitis. Most of the time, when shaving is halted for a week or so, the rash and bumps may resolve. A hypoallergenic shaving cream may also stave off folliculitis. If this condition persists, individuals are urged to see their physicians. Antibiotics may also be recommended.

Systemic medical conditions may be the cause of an underarm skin rash, as well. Sometimes, diseases such as diabetes can causes skin manifestations that occur in the underarm area. Rashes related to diabetes are typically more difficult to treat. Rashes or infections related to diabetes may be caused by an overproduction of yeast. Although diabetes and other illnesses can be the culprit in underarm rashes, most underarm rashes are seldom ever serious, and most always respond favorably to treatment.

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Discussion Comments
By mabeT — On May 13, 2011

@Domido – Hey there! It sure sounds like you’ve got an uncomfortable situation on your hands - or armpits, as it were.

I, too, get razor burn under my arms when I shave, but it sounds like this might be a little more than that. It might be best if you pop into your doctor’s office just to get that rash in your armpits checked out.

After all, it might be that there is a simple solution to your problem. Then you could be symptom free and still have nicely shaven armpits!

By Domido — On May 12, 2011

It never fails that I get a razor burn under my arms when I shave there. It itches and it’s really painful at times.

Sometimes the rash can develop pretty large pimple like bumps with whiteheads on them. I usually pop these to get a little relief because they hurt so badly. By popping them, it seems like some of that pressure is eased.

Should I see a doctor over this, or is it just routine for some people to get this type of underarm rash? I certainly can’t quit shaving under my arms! Is there some other underarm rash treatment?

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