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The top 5 causes of darkened armpits

Germaine Pie Is Puzzled By Her Pits: What causes darkened armpits and what can we do to get rid of them? They’re so embarrassing!

The Right Brain Raises Her From the Pit of Despair:

armpit chimp stain It’s not surprising that so many people have this problem – there are at least FIVE different reasons your pits could be darker than they should be.

Cause #1: Shaving.

When you shave you cut the hairs off at, or just below, the surface of the skin. If your hairs are slightly darker than your skin color, they can give the appearance that your skin has a dark stain when it`s really just sub-surface hair.

What To Do About It: Stop shaving and try waxing or plucking instead so you get rid of the hair below the skin surface. Since the hairs aren’t lurking so close to the top of your skin, they won’t be as visible.

Cause #2: Buildup of dead skin cells.

According to at least one dermatolgist, dark spots under your arms are the result of dead skin cells that are trapped in microscopic “hills and valleys” on your skin.

What To Do About It: Exfoliate, preferably with a product containing lactic acid.

Cause #3: Antiperspirant and deodorant usage.

In theory, some ingredients in these products (perhaps the fragrance) could be reacting with the skin to cause discoloration. Practically speaking this seems unlikely but many people do claim that when they stop using APDs, the darkness goes away.

What To Do About It: Try switching brands or using a deodorant instead of an antiperspirant. You may stink a bit more, but hey, the Left Brain lives for experiments like that!

Cause #4: A medical condition called acanthosis nigricans.

This condition causes light-brown-to-black markings on the neck, under the arms, or in the groin. It can be related to insulin production or to a glandular disorder and it typically occurs in people who are overweight.

What To Do About It: Watch your diet to control insulin production and use Retin-A, 20% urea, alpha hydroxyacids, and salicylic acid prescriptions to lighten your armpits.

Cause #5: Hyper-pigmentation.

This condition causes your skin to produce excess melanin pigment. It doesn`t usually affect armpits, so it’s a less likely cause.

What To Do About It: Use a skin bleaching cream to destroy the excess melanin. The Beauty Brains don’t recommend this unless you consult a dermatologist first. You can also try laser treatment to destroy the pigment.

{ 52 comments… add one }

  • Candi December 4, 2013, 3:43 pm

    Informitive thank you.

  • holly December 26, 2013, 11:20 pm

    I have black stuff under my arms. i try to scrub it of but i can only remove some of it. I’m very light skin so this is embarassing for me. i was wondering what i coukd do to remove it from my skin

  • VNikol February 7, 2014, 9:16 pm

    I use lemons for deodorant which work surprisingly well (the cleaner your diet the more effective they work), but on days that I shave I swipe a layer of tea tree oil followed by a layer of lavender oil (pure essential oils) as deodorant & I noticed how great they are at evening out my skin under my arms as well. I don’t use lotion, only oils (EVOO, Jojoba, Grapeseed) so I have a carrier oil on my skin although tea tree & lavender oils are the only two essentials safe for skin use sans a carrier oil.

    • no July 25, 2015, 9:52 am

      we get it, youre organic/vegan and better than everyone. and no, essential oils shouldnt be digested like most of you ppl swear everyone should do. quit proselytizing.

      • LadyT September 3, 2015, 9:45 am

        Ooh, somebody’s touchy. This woman was just trying to give some advice to others who might need it. Just know that when you comment things like that on a harmless post you just seem bitter and uninformed. And she never said anything about ingesting the oils, just applying them topically. Get it right if you’re going to criticize.

        • Syalie Boo December 4, 2015, 8:22 am

          Lol. So true. How moronic of this person to irrelevantly deject her when all she was doing was try to help. Smh. Someone must’ve crapped on her cornflakes.

          • Chris April 27, 2016, 7:29 am

            Leave him alone, he’s just a baby.

    • Oneka March 15, 2016, 1:36 pm

      I like the idea of the lemons and oils. I have tried almost everything and it’s not working for me. And I’m not vegan but I like using oils and organic stuff. It is great for your body. Better than all those chemical filled products and foods.

    • delosi May 2, 2016, 10:01 am

      Thank you very much

  • Janice@www.unexplainedbruising.net March 18, 2014, 10:34 am

    I used to pluck my underarms to remove the hair but after a while of doing so it looked swollen and rough so I switched to shaving with a razor but then I noticed that my armpits were shades darker than before. Now I apply cream and shave using a soft scraper. I am thinking of trying waxing since I didn’t achieve the smoothness I hoped to attain with my current routine.

  • Kaycee December 12, 2014, 1:39 am

    Hey well I’m young and under my arms are brown and get a bit sore it’s really embarrassing i dont like to put my arms up at all and i dont want to tell my mum what are some ways that mite help me get rid of the darkness please help me

    • Randy Schueller December 12, 2014, 6:26 am

      Hi Kaycee. If if bothers you that much you should really tell your mom about it. You didn’t do anything wrong so there’s nothing to be bothered about. Maybe you could show her this article and ask her if she’s ever heard of this. They you can tell about your problem and has her to help decide if any of the treatments we mentioned in the article might be good for you to try. Good luck and let us know what she says!

  • Kaycee December 12, 2014, 1:44 am

    Okay well under my arm has gone brown and it gets sore every now and then I’m still only young and love to play sport but lately I’ve been to imbarresed to even put my arms up to play i dont want to tell Any one about it what are something’s i can try please help me .

  • zuhra December 16, 2014, 1:43 am

    hey keycee you are like me my armpirt have dark colour and idont know what kid of diseases that i have please help me if some one know he treatment

  • Shonna February 13, 2015, 10:36 am

    I just started using a all natural deodorant and have alwayed waxed my arm pits. Now one of them is turning color, it seems to be getting darker. What should I do?

    • Randy Schueller February 13, 2015, 12:19 pm

      If you just started using a new deodorant and you noticed a change in your armpit color you could try going back to your old deodorant.

  • 22TANGO March 23, 2015, 12:40 am







    • Fran January 25, 2016, 12:21 am

      I drink lots of water, eat fruits and vegetables but fairly exercise (I do take antidepressants and anti-panic meds) and I have like developed velvety patches/bruises near my waist and the obvious darkened underarms, knees and elbows I also have really pale skin so imagine how those stand out -and not in a good way-, and like the others said it’s really embarrassing and frustrating. BTW, I haven’t gone to a GP or doctor of any sort yet because I’m terrified they would tell me I have like some sort of degenerative disease or something (yes, as stated before I have to take meds to treat anxiety and panic disorder, which makes me think now that those meds might be causing this patches/bruises, right?) TY for your answer and patience

      • Randy Schueller January 25, 2016, 7:31 am

        Unfortunately this sounds like a medical issue not a cosmetic science issue. I think you really should see a doctor. Even if there’s bad news it’s better that you find out early rather than later.

  • Jasmarie June 15, 2015, 3:55 am

    My Armpits Are Very Dark And I Am Afraid To Tell My Mom . They Are Very Dark And I Have A Dark Skin Tone So It Is Easy To Notice . I Keep Itching It So It Makes Small Scab , I Tried This Ointment Which Removed The Scar But My Armpits Are Still Very Dark . Any Suggestions?

    • Randy Schueller June 15, 2015, 6:53 am

      Jasmarie, you need to tell you mom so she can help you. Don’t be afraid to show her.

  • Skylar June 16, 2015, 3:21 pm

    I’m 14 and I have dark colour armpits I’m really pale and white so its easy to notice. Me and my mom aren’t close and she never sat me down and talked about shaving so I did it secretly so I don’t want to talk to my mom about it I’ve tried using different razors, tried exfoliating but it just doesn’t work I haven’t wore tank tops for this reason in many years and I just don’t know what to try.. Any advice would help greatly!!!

  • Sammy June 19, 2015, 8:50 pm

    I have dark underarms and I switched deodorants but it hasn’t switched back to my skin color. It hasn’t changed at all and now I am afraid to put on deoderant and now I smell.

    • elen marie November 20, 2015, 1:37 pm

      Try to use bioderm oitment as a deodorant after shower and tiny bit before going to bed. Its not expensive and harmless. It helps whitening the skin and it will not give you smell.You will see the result after few times of using it. Also rubbing fresh lemon while shower also helps so keep this as a habbit.

  • Kiara June 25, 2015, 12:18 am

    Ok i have these black spots under my arms nd my mother is known about it so she told me to stop using deordant for a while nd just wash under my arms but the spots are still here nd they itch alot nd burn when i sweat help!!!! I want to start back wearing deorderant but i just need help

    • Randy Schueller June 25, 2015, 6:46 am

      @Kiara: I don’t know what those spots are. Maybe you should see a dermatologist to make sure it’s nothing serious.

  • Grace June 27, 2015, 5:26 am

    I don’t know if it will be the same as your guys problem but I also have brown spots on my armpit but not just there in between my boobs also have the brown spot what can I do
    I’m a little over weight but started a diet a week ago
    Please help

  • Amy mcdonald July 16, 2015, 8:15 pm

    I am a mother and just took my 14 year old daughter to the dermatologist for darkening of her armpits. They have been Luke that for two years, I honestly thought she just wasnt scrubbing well enough. We changed deoderants among other things. For her it is a rare condition that is hard to cure but easy to treat called confluent and reticulated papillomatosis or carp for short. Don’t be embarrassed to tell your parents, it can’t be anymore embarrassing than what you are already going through. Good luck to all of you maybe it isn’t what my daughter has but don’t hesitate to have it checked out.

  • tori vega July 30, 2015, 10:00 am

    can any one tell me how to make our armpits white simply in home without the lemon does any body have another idea??????

    • Nic February 26, 2016, 1:13 am

      Hi you can use coconut oil, baking soda, cucumber, and potato.

      • Jessie April 1, 2016, 5:32 pm

        I just started using coconut oil as a body wash and for my gray armpits. I also try not to shave too much. I don’t know if it is helping yet, but it’s worth a shot.

  • Ninnie August 7, 2015, 1:08 am

    I am using a cream from walmart called Nadinola it’s around 5 bucks u apply it twice daily and after a week I’ve noticed results 🙂 also lemon and baking soda help if u want to try natural fixes.

  • Angie August 12, 2015, 12:52 pm

    I have used a natural deodorant for about 2 months with simple ingredients (shea butter, baking soda, arrowroot powder, cocoa seed butter, bergamot and lime essential oils, vitamin E, and hop extract). I began seeing a large dark purple rash under my left arm and started reducing the amount of deodorant I was using and skipping days sometimes (I really loved the way it was working, so I was hoping I could manage the rash). Within that week I woke up in the middle of the night with severe spasms in my arm and had to go to the ER. I was told I have what is called “cording” and it is generally only seen in mastectomy patients (that have had a lymph node removed in the armpit). It appears that maybe my lymph node in my left arm was impaired and both my doc and OT believe that a reaction to one of these ingredients is likely the cause. It’s been almost a month and I still don’t have a fully functioning arm (unable to straighten completely due to cording, tenderness and spasm pain). Has anyone else had anything similar or are there any ingredients that I listed about that would have a higher probability of possibly causing a lymph reaction like this? Any info would be great!

  • Meg August 19, 2015, 9:09 pm

    Hi, I’ve been reading that using bergamot and being exposed to sunlight rays can be severely harmful to the skin. I would IMMEDIATELY switch deodorants, as I’m guessing you go into the sun most every day.
    Try this article for more info.


  • Meg August 19, 2015, 9:36 pm

    While Arrowroot powder, baking soda, lime essential oils, hop extract, and vitamin E are most likely not the cause, Shea butter and cocoa seed butter have both been known to cause skin irritations and allergic reactions. But, if you have previously used Shea and cocoa seed butter before, the deodorant company may have overdosed on bergamot, and used lime extract to try to relax the muscles that the bergamot tightened. Either way, discontinue use, and I hope I have been a help to you. Be sure to check the back of bottles for bergamot oil, and if you’re new to the butters, ask you’re doctor if there’s any chance you’re allergic to them, because believe me, many people are, as I get a reaction when I use it. As a new deodorant, I would use Tom’s as it works for me and is all natural. I would also reccomend using a wetter deodorant (don’t buy dry) as it may stick and irritate your underarms while they heal. For now, though, discontinue use of any deodorant and wash your underarms lightly with Lukewarm water unless your doctor tells you otherwise or if your arms do not allow you to move this way. Discontinue shaving or waxing of any sort until your arm heals fully, and even for a bit afterwords to put less stress on your arms. As for the odor, spray perfume on your shoulders and over the sleeves on your shirt. You may smell a bit, so make sure you have a stronger perfume. I know it may be embarrassing, but your arm ABSOLUTELY doesn’t need any more irritation. Try to take daily showers in the morning if your arm allows you and use all natural soap for kids, and you will not smell as much or be irritated as much. In the shower, don’t scrub harshly, just lather your arm with soap and clean away with a soft, squishy, hot sponge. Remember to listen to your doctor if he says to avoid any of these things, though, as I am not actually looking at your arm. I hope I have been a help, and please keep me updated. Remember, there was a time before deodorant was invented.(: Hope you get better soon.

  • Jan August 20, 2015, 10:19 am

    I’ve read the issues and replies, looking for help myself. I noticed a darkening just a few days ago. I’m going to try the various suggestions each two weeks at a time and will give feedback.
    However, I must make some comments from my background and experience. First, I am a Massage Therapist and do have an extensive education and experience on the human body. Additionally, I have been a mother and caregiver for over 40 years. That being said, the very first thing is to stop rubbing and scrubbing with anything. The underarm skin is very sensitive and just below the surface is blood vessels that can rupture, and lymph nodes that can be damaged. Second, stop using traditional deodorant/antiperspirants and try Epsom salt. You can get it in a stick form to wet and roll on, or dissolve the salts in water & dab on the solution, and let it dry before dressing. Third, and final for now, give it at least two weeks for your body to start the regeneration of this area.
    These methods have worked for me in the past, but now that I’m older, I’m preparing for other influences like the effects of menopause. The first on my list is brisk walking, because it will provide the movement of my arms to do a natural massage and sweating to allow my body to release anything that is trapped in those tissues. We spend too much time at our computers with only movement of our hands and fingers, it stands to reason that idle parts are hampered in circulation.
    Good Luck, and let everyone know how each of you do.

  • Meg August 20, 2015, 3:59 pm

    Also, could I have the name?

  • Catherine August 26, 2015, 6:27 am

    I’m 38 yrs old. my armpits is very dark and it started 2 yrs ago. pls help this is embarrassing.

  • Crystal September 27, 2015, 10:23 pm

    This is so embarrassing to me and I do to have this problem. I’m starting the bleaching cream with myself just because I have a two tones coloration all over my body. But my underarms is not cute , Iam going to try the pluck and see what..but I have the itching problem too any suggestions

  • Maria Loca October 8, 2015, 11:06 am

    Sometimes also if you’re pregnant it tends to darken a bit, mostly subsides post partum. I wax my armpits and it seemed to have lightened them up a bit. Also if you wear clothing that covers the armpit area it likely traps the moisture from sweat and the hairs (we all have little ones) causing a reaction. So keep them ventilated when possible. Hope you find something that works. Good luck! ☺

  • Faye November 16, 2015, 7:50 am

    My mom and I are not close. I have white underarm before and I always tweeze but nothing happens It doesn’t affect it at all. then one day I watched on youtube things like waxing and I tried it once and then my underarm became so dark and now I can’t use my favorite shirt and dresses. Please help. I don’t know why this happens.

  • Sonia November 22, 2015, 8:38 pm


    I wax my underarms by a professional but each time I do it they get really sore and unable to use anything for days when they heal I have really dark skin witch takes ages to fade please help!!!

  • Maggie Smith December 8, 2015, 1:40 pm

    I’ve heard it is detoxing – impurities coming out of the skin . Deodorant can be a barrier so when you stop using it, the toxins start coming out and can actually burn, discolor and irritate. Losing weight, cleansing the body can be the only answer. That’s difficult so take a healthy product like Raw meal (slowly as it cleanses, too) It’s natural with no harmful ingredients. Using bentonite clay to help remove the impurities can also help. You can use it externally, wipe on and wash off – very soothing. Some take it internally but you should check with a doctor knowledgeable about natural healing.

    • Randy Schueller December 8, 2015, 3:31 pm

      Maggie: “Detoxing” is most certainly NOT the cause of darkened armpits. I’m afraid you’ve been misinformed.

  • Dee December 9, 2015, 7:23 pm

    This answered all my questions. Ty.

  • Jesse Mara January 11, 2016, 10:44 pm

    Is it normal to find a black seed-like kinda thing growing in your armpit? I woke up this morning and found this thing the size of a papaya seed under my armpit and when I pulled it and it came off easily with no pain, leaving a small circular sore. I’m freaking out!

    • Randy Schueller January 12, 2016, 8:29 am

      That doesn’t sound normal but I have no idea what it is. I would check with a doctor if I were you.

  • Tiara March 7, 2016, 11:13 pm

    Thank you
    Very helpful and informative piece of article.

  • Natalie March 12, 2016, 6:45 pm

    I have had this a few times which always results in me needing to treat it with a canesten cream. Yep, my GP diagnosed thrush. Apparently if you’re skin sensitive to certain deodorants and just carry on using them it can irratate enough to cause a fungul infection somehow. Honestly, as crazy as that sounds, I changed my deodorant and used the cream I needed to and within a few days I was fine. I recently changed my deodorant again and what do you know it happened again, back to normal again now from using the same treatment again. It’s worth buying a tube just in case.

  • JT March 13, 2016, 5:32 pm

    So I just got back from vacationing in the tropics. Near the 3rd week I noticed the skim darkening under my armpits. When it started peeling I thought possibly sunburn? I didn’t think to use sunscreen there. I have used diy deodorant for the past year without any problems so no changes on that front. Since being back my skin is close to normal…

  • Grace M March 29, 2016, 5:49 pm

    I need help, I have dark armpits, neck and dark spots on my arms. I’ve been to doctors, had a biopsy and did not find anything. They said it’s a skin inflammation of the skin and pigment discoloring. I had blood work done and everything came back good. I am 49 and in good health, my only health issue is a vitamin D deficiency and I take 50,000mg once a week. Do my age have anything to do with it. NEED HELP…What can I do.

    • Randy Schueller March 30, 2016, 11:01 am

      I wish we could help Grace but it sounds like you have a medical condition and we can only help with cosmetic problems. I hope you find a solution!

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