Armpit Rashes
armpit rashes

The armpit is a prime spot for irritation. Armpit rashes can be bumpy and red or scaly and white. This can be caused by many things, but fortunately, there are treatments that can address them. But first, the cause of the rash should be determined because that will make it easier to find relief. Some armpit rashes are long-lasting, and may be a sign of underlying health conditions that require medical attention and treatment. 



Chafing rashes are caused when the skin rubs hard against itself or clothing for too long. Areas of the body where the skin folds over itself such as the armpit, are prone to chafing. The rashes are usually red, raw or with the top layer of the skin rubbed off, it may sting or burn, can appear in streaks, and may even be swollen, cracked, or crusted. Exercising or wearing fit gym clothing can also cause chafing rashes. 

Heat rash

Heat mixed with sweat can cause irritation that is known as heat rash. Since armpits have active sweat glands, heat and friction can lead to tiny bumps that are red and itchy. 

Contact dermatitis

Rashes on the armpits may also be caused by contact dermatitis, which are usually dry, red, itchy, and sometimes even blistered. Contact dermatitis can be caused by allergens that found in cleaning products, cosmetics, food, and insect sting or bites.

Hair removal

People who pluck their armpit hairs may experience itchy and painful bumps after removing hair or shaving the underarm area. These bumps are usually present in and around the hair follicles.

Seborrheic dermatitis

This is a type of eczema that develops around oil-producing glands and causes red, greasy looking bumps that are itchy and may sometimes have yellow or white flakes.


Candida is a type of yeast that causes fungal infections. It triggers a rash that is swollen, itchy, and sometimes scaly.


Ringworm is a prevalent type of fungal infections that causes a red of silver ring-like rash. 


Armpit rashes can be soothed by using doctor-prescribed anti-itch creams or over-the counter creams, applying moisturizers, particularly if the rashes are caused by dry skin and eczema, and by using cool compresses, as armpit rashes are usually caused by heat.

Home remedies are effective for some people, but before using any product, consult your doctor first. 

People with armpit rashes can try the following:

  • Keep the area cool and dry by wearing organic cotton clothing
  • Stay out of the sun and keep away from humid environments
  • Tap or lightly pat the itchy area instead of scratching it
  • Apply unscented and chemical-free moisturizers for dry, scaly rashes
  • Avoid long periods of time in the water including long showers or baths

There are natural therapies and supplements out there that are effective for some people with armpit rashes, but there is little scientific evidence that support their use. 

Several of the conditions mentioned above that cause armpit rashes require OTC medications such as hydrocortisone creams, antihistamine, and calamine lotions or creams, antifungal creams, gels, or sprays.

For individuals with eczema, prescription treatment options include topical steroid creams, topical PDE4 inhibitors or calcineurin inhibitors, phototherapy using ultraviolet light to boost vitamin D production, and biologic medications that contain engineered versions of human immune proteins.

Prevention Tips

  • Identify and avoid allergens where possible
  • Use unscented and hypoallergenic personal care products
  • Bathe regularly but for shorter periods
  • Use anti-chafing powders when in warm weather or while exercising
  • Wear clothing and undergarments that fit properly
  • Wash clothes frequently
  • Wash the hands or body after being around soil, animals, or plants
  • Avoid sharing personal items such as towels, combs, or other clothing
  • Wear loose clothing made of natural fibers such as organic cotton, especially in warm weather states
  • Ensure that pets and farm animals have all their recommended vaccines

Visiting the Doctor

People who always experience severe or chronic rashes should always consult with a doctor at first sign of symptoms to determine its cause and potential treatment options. Individuals with rashes that appear without apparent cause or those that do not go away when primary treatment has been given, should also see a doctor.

Seek emergency care for rashes that:

  • cover the entire body
  • accompanied by blisters or fever
  • develop suddenly and spread rapidly
  • are painful or swollen
  • bleed, ooze, or release pus
  • are around the mouth, eyes, and genitals
  • accompany nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or constipation
  • unresponsive to any OTC treatment or home remedies
  • appear when the body is shaking
  • present alongside a stiff neck
  • accompany confusion or dizziness
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