The anatomy of the armpit is such that it is filled with a large number of blood vessels, lymph nodes, hair follicles and sweat glands. As a result, the area is always warm and damp. This can as a result cause irritation as well as fuel other causes of itchy armpits.
Although the underarms are quite vulnerable to itching, in most cases when itchy armpits occur, the condition is mild and temporary. There however are some diseases and conditions that can make the itch severe and chronic.
Some of these require medical attention but there are those that can be treated with home remedies. We get into the details of itchy armpits with or with no rash causes while pregnant, breastfeeding and the relationship between itchy underarms and breast cancer.
What Causes Itchy Armpits?
There are various causes of itchy armpits. These range from simple things such as reaction to cosmetic products to things as serious as breast cancer. Below we explore these causes of itchy armpits and other accompanying symptoms where applicable.
Itchy Armpits Rash (Intertrigo)
Armpit rash is also given the medical term Intertrigo. It is a common cause of itchiness on the underarms and mostly affects the folds in the armpits. The condition will manifest itself in the form of an itch, some redness and lumps on the skin.
In severe cases, the area could become cracked. Further scratching will lead to crusty lumps as it exudes some fluid. When it gets to this level and is left unattended, some bacterial or fungal infection may manifest. Risk factors that fuel rashes include heat and humidity. Avoid them to lower the itch.
Prickly Heat (Miliaria Rubra)
People who are on bed rest and exposed to hot and humid atmospheres over an extended period of time tend to suffer miliara rubra which is also known as prickly heat. The condition exhibits symptoms such as itchy underarms and red bumps. Is occurrence is triggered by blocked sweat glands which lead to perspiration being trapped under the skin.
There are different forms of dermatitis. Contact dermatitis is the most common and occurs when the skin is exposed to an irritant. This includes allergens that cause a rash or reaction. With time, allergic dermatitis tends to get worse. To avoid this kind of armpit itch, it is necessary to know what the triggers for the reaction is. Once certain, avoid them to prevent further itch.
Folliculitis involves an infection of the hair follicles. The itch will originate from the hair follicles present in the underarm. Armpit folliculitis tends to be superficial and can with time heal itself. However, there are a few serious cases that may see the area develop boils and even get scarred. One of the causes for this could be bathing in hot tubs with water that is chemically imbalanced.
Excessive Sweating (Axillary Hyperhidrosis)
This is a disorder affecting the sweat glands leading to excessive sweating. It can occur simultaneously and although it does not immediately cause excessive itching, with time the accumulated moisture will. The accompanying scratching may lead to peeling and eventually infections and irritations. To get rid of excessively itchy armpits, it is important to have hyperhidrosis treated.
This tends to be an autoimmune disease that causes red plaques on the skin. This leads to the flaking and itching of the skin. When the condition affects the armpits, an individual is likely to experience reverse psoriasis. This is where the red patches appear but the skin does not flake. Instead, the skin only appears itchy and swollen with smooth red spots. This is most common in people suffering obesity.
Armpit Fungus (Tinea Axillaris)
Also known as armpit ringworms, Tinea Axillaris occurs as a result of the high moisture, low light and appropriate temperatures found in the under arms. These conditions give the fungus an appropriate atmosphere to thrive. The condition is likely to affect people suffering excessive sweating discussed above.
Acne Inversa (Hidradenitis Suppurativa)
Acne inversa is a condition affecting sweat glands underneath the breasts, around the groin and in the armpits. Its symptoms include formation of clusters of cysts and abscesses.
When these bust, they are slow to heal resulting in tenderness, pain and itching. The condition has no cure but there are treatments aimed at reducing the symptoms. The disease is also not common.
When excess keratin is formed on the skin, it results in formation of rough bumps on the skin. These patches which give a sandpaper appearance can form in the armpit area and the condition is referred to as keratosis pilaris.
The bumps are normally accompanied by irritation and an itchy armpits. Other symptoms include skin dryness and inflammation. Although the condition resolves itself with time, the use of over the counter medication and home remedies can be used to clear the condition fast.
Yeast infection or candidiasis is a common occurrence and can cause itchy armpits. The condition is mostly as a result of a weak immune system and affects people with blood disorders, cancer, diabetes or HIV. It is also common in people going through chemotherapy and corticosteroid therapy.
Candida infection manifests in an itchy red rash that could get swollen with time. Treatment can be done using over the counter antifungal creams. Wearing loose breathable clothes can also help in easing the condition to help eliminate itchy armpits.
There is always bacteria on our skin but which exists in harmless amounts. The armpit though can serve as a breeding ground for bacteria when there is adequate moisture and warmth from the sweating. This is accelerated when proper hygiene and bodily grooming is not observed. To avoid excessively itchy underarms, ensure you take a shower regularly.
When shaving is done wrongly and with a dull razor, issues can result. The failure to use shaving cream may result in dry skin. An old razor could see your skin getting irritated. These factors could see you with itchy armpits coupled with razor bumps.
At times, itchy underarms may be caused due to laundry detergents as well as the clothes we wear. For women, the latex, rubber elastic or nickel in bras could cause itching. To avoid this, try using clothes made up of natural fabric. Also watch out if your itchy armpits could be as a result of the laundry detergent you are using.
Other Itchy Armpit Causes
In addition to the above causes, any other disorder known to cause itching can you see suffering itchy underarms. These include liver and kidney diseases, reactions to medication and heat. Internal parasites as well as insect bites could also see you suffering from itch.
Itchy Armpits No Rash
In most cases, armpit itch will be accompanied by a rash. In other cases, the rash may be so minute that it is not visible. Other times there may be no rash. There are a number of causes for itchy armpits no rash. These could include excessive sweating, fever, weight loss, fatigue, dry skin and swollen nymph nodes. Other causes for a mild itch with no rash include allergic reactions.
Treatment for any itchy armpits no rash depend on what the trigger is.
- For allergic reactions, cortisone creams and antihistamines can help.
- Topical creams such as Sudocrem and Desitin can also help. Dermacort is also a mild steroid that can help.
- Antihistamine drugs such as Claritin and Benadryl can be used to ease an itchy armpit with no rash.
- Abstain from using deodorants for some time and see if the itch will subside.
- Use mild medicated soaps to bathe that are free from fragrances.
- Always put on loose fitting cotton clothes to keep your under arms well aerated.
Itchy Armpit Rash
Armpit rash affects the appearance of the skin around your under arms giving them a different appearance and texture. When suffering an itchy armpit rash, you are likely to experience some bumps. These may appear like protrusions caused by pimples. When the skin is dry, it is also likely to be flaky, scaly, cracked and chapped. Prolonged itching and scratching will with time cause production of discharge.
Among things that can cause a rash include armpit shaving, allergic reaction to grooming products such as soaps and deodorants as well as fabrics. Various skin conditions such as dermatitis and folliculitis could also cause an itchy armpit rash.
The type of rash one gets may differ in color and shape. Some will be painless while others will be painful. Whichever the case, itchy armpit rash is uncomfortable and requires attention for elimination.
Where they are caused by infections, they may come and go every so often. Some may go away on their own while others require medical attention. Evaluate the condition’s severity before deciding what best cause of action to take. Whenever you are in doubt, always see your dermatologist for appropriate diagnosis and treatment.
Itchy Armpits Pregnancy and While Breast Feeding
Pregnant women tend to suffer itch frequently. The causes of itchy armpits in pregnancy tend to disappear after giving birth. Conditions such as pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy (PUPPP) are known to cause itchy red raised bumps.
Gestational skin rash is known to affect the legs and arms and could be a cause for your itchy armpits during pregnancy. Where there is itchy armpits in pregnancy with no rash, the cause could be obstetric cholestasis.
Other conditions that may see this occur include eczema and impetigo. Due to their fragile immunity, pregnant women tend to be more susceptible to yeast infections which could see you suffer itchy armpits. Do not administer any self-medication before seeing your health provider to be certain of the safety of the method of treatment.
Itchy Armpits while Breast Feeding
New mums will complain of excessively itchy armpits while breast feeding. It is also possible to develop some lumps in the underarms. The excessive itch is nothing to worry about where it occurs when the baby is feeding. This is because it can be attributed to the letdown reflex. The itch is normally accompanied by a tingly sensation. This should reduce with time as the body gets used to the process.
Itchy Armpits Cancer
According to cancer.org, itchy armpits can at times be an early sign of breast cancer. The itch is accompanied by lumps or swellings as the breast cancer spreads to the lymph nodes. It is possible for this to occur even before there is a bump in the breast.
When suffering itchy armpits, cancer of the breast tends to spread fast in the lymph nodes. As such, any itch, pain and lumps on the armpit are signs to check your breasts for cancer. The swellings tend to be more prominent under the arm and collarbone.
Where breast cancer spreads widely to the lymph nodes, there is a decline in the five year survival rate by 84 percent [brightstarcare.com]. As such, itching armpits cancer symptom should not be ignored and should be given immediate attention.
Itchy Armpits at Night
Itchy armpits at night are a major complaint among women although the same problem can be experienced by men. The reason why it is easy to get itchy at night is due to warm temperatures. Failing to shower could also cause this. Also watch out what you sleep in as it could be the fabric causing the itch. Other causes could be early pregnancy and reaction to cosmetics. Ensure your bedroom is well conditioned to minimize the chances of itchy armpits at night.
How to Stop Itchy Armpits-Home Remedies for Itchy Underarms
In case you are wondering how to stop itchy armpits, we will tell you how. Before we do, it is worth noting that the home remedies for itchy underarms will only work if the root cause of itchy armpits is addressed. To take the itch away:
- Avoid irritating your underarm by wearing loose clothes.
- During the warm seasons, wear clothes made up of breathable fabric.
- Refrain from using fabric softeners and wash clothes in non-irritating detergents.
- Where shaving causes an itchy rash on your underarms, settle for depilatory creams or waxing.
- To keep away armpit itching caused by fungal infections, observe proper hygiene.
- Use hot moist compresses as a remedy for folliculitis and to get rid of itchy armpits caused by it.
Howstuffworks: Underarm Rash
Nhs.uk: Causes of itching
Cafemom.com: Why Do my Armpits Itch While Nursing?
Cancer.org: Breast Cancer: Symptoms you Need to Know
Brightstarcare.com: Warning Signs of Breast Cancer