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How Do I Get Rid of Dry Armpits?

By Madeleine A.
Updated May 21, 2024
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Ways to get rid of dry armpits include using moisturizers after a shower and using deodorants that contain moisturizing agents. Armpit dryness can be caused by antiperspirants, bathing, or fabric, or the condition can even be related to genetics. Although having dryer armpits rarely signify serious medical conditions, they can cause discomfort and itching. Scratching the armpits can lead to breaks in the skin, leading to an infection. Treating dry underarms with home remedies is typically effective, however, when they persist, a physician should be consulted.

Since extremes in water temperature can deplete the skin of moisture, using warm water when bathing can help discourage dry armpits. In addition, swimming pool chemicals can also cause dry armpits, as can being exposed to air conditioning and overly heated rooms. To discourage skin from drying out, applying moisturizer immediately after drying off from a shower will help the skin retain moisture.

If dry armpits are accompanied by redness, itching, inflammation, and discomfort, a condition called eczema or psoriasis may be present. To know for sure, a dermatologist should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment. Treatment for eczema includes anti-inflammatory medications and corticosteroids. Typically, however, eczema does not only appear under the arms. Eczema and psoriasis more commonly develop on the legs, back, arms, and neck. In addition, the plaques of eczema often take on a silvery appearance and surrounding skin often looks cracked and scaly.

Sometimes, an allergic reaction might be perceived as dryness. Allergic reactions or an armpit rash can cause the skin under the arms to peel, itch, and flake. Although these symptoms can be mistaken for dry skin, they should not be treated as such. An armpit rash is generally treated with topical corticosteroids and sometimes, antihistamines. If the rash becomes severe, the risk of infection rises. If an infection occurs, an antibiotic ointment or an oral antibiotic may be recommended by the physician.

Certain antiperspirants can encourage dry armpits. When this occurs, avoidance of such products may be prudent. Experimenting with different antiperspirants and deodorants, until one is found to be less irritating, can help prevent dry, irritated armpits. If these products cause persistent irritation and dryness, other methods of odor and moisture control can be implemented. These include washing and drying the area thoroughly, followed by an application of cornstarch or baby powder. In addition, a mild moisturizing lotion can be applied to the area to help replace moisture and restore skin suppleness.

How To Treat Dry Armpit Rash

Methods for treating a dry armpit rash often depend on what's causing the rash in the first place. Sometimes, it means treating an underlying condition. For example, some rashes come from skin yeast infections. People with type 2 diabetes are especially prone to these infections because yeast feeds on elevated glucose levels present in the bloodstream. Bringing blood sugar levels under control reduces the risk of yeast infections. If the rash is allergic or irritant contact dermititis, you should avoid contact with the offending substance.

Why Are My Armpits Dry and Itchy? 

Armpit rashes can be irritating, embarrassing and even painful. Besides eczema and psoriasis, contact dermatitis is another usual cause. Contact dermatitis is just a fancy term for an itchy red rash on your skin. This rash is usually accompanied by dry scaly skin plus bumps, burning sensations, swelling and tenderness.

What Causes Contact Dermatitis?

Contact dermatitis can result from negative reactions to some deodorants and antiperspirants. However, other compounds can trigger this type of rash. Certain substances in soaps, body washes and other personal care products are common irritants:

  • Sodium lauryl sulfate
  • Coconut diethanolamide
  • Parabens
  • Fragrances
  • Balsam of Peru

Rashes from substances like these can result from irritant contact dermatitis. This happens when the substance harms or damages the skin's external layer. For instance, sodium lauryl sulfate is a detergent and a surfactant. It breaks up oily residue to be washed away, but it can also break down the natural protective oils on our skin's surfaces. Coconut diethanolamide has similar effects.

Allergic Reactions and Rashes

Sometimes, allergens can trigger a case of contact dermatitis. Some allergens are also irritants, such as balsam of Peru. Others, like nickel and copper, may prompt an overblown immune system response. When a person's immune system perceives a substance as a threat, it starts producing a type of antibody known as Immunoglobulin E. With higher levels of IgE, the body experiences adverse reactions. Skin problems are just one type of allergic reaction.

Other Causes of Armpit Rash

While contact dermatitis is a common cause of armpit rashes, it's not the only one. There's also folliculitis, an inflammation of hair follicles from bacteria such as staphylococcus aureus. You may mostly notice swelling and pus from the infected follicles, but pink or red bumps around the follicles can also accompany the infection. People often develop folliculitis from bacteria present on old razors, so be sure to replace yours frequently.

Two other typical causes of armpit rashes include ingrown hairs and candida infections. Ingrown hairs produce symptoms somewhat similar to folliculitis. That's because a hair is curling and growing back inside the skin, provoking inflammation along with red or pink bumps. Candida infections occur when yeast starts growing on the skin, producing red itchy bumps and raw, red skin that always seems to stay moist.

How To Treat Dry Armpit Rash

While targeting the underlying causes of an armpit rash, you can also relieve the physical symptoms. Treating the symptoms can sometimes involve eliminating the yeast or bacteria that started the infection. You may need a topical antifungal or antibiotic medication to kill off these organisms. In the meantime, you can do a few things to alleviate your discomfort and encourage healing:

  • Take warm baths with colloidal oatmeal.
  • Apply an over-the-counter anti-itch cream.
  • Switch to unscented skincare and bath products.
  • Leave cool compresses on the affected area.

How Colloidal Oatmeal Helps Your Skin

Colloidal oatmeal comes from oat kernels. Before oatmeal makes it to your breakfast table, it grows in kernels that must be dehulled. To produce colloidal oatmeal, these kernels are left whole and grounded into a fine powder. When combined with water, it becomes an effective remedy that helps rejuvenate the skin's natural barrier. This can help soothe irritated skin and restore its health, potentially warding off future skin problems. That's why you'll find colloidal oatmeal in many skincare products.

Over-the-Counter Solutions

Some topical remedies can counteract the itching from an armpit rash. Popular options include hydrocortisone cream, which dials down your body's overblown immune response that prompts the itching. Calamine lotion leaves a cooling sensation and can dry out oozing skin. For yeast infections, topical antifungal creams are effective treatments.

Treating a dry armpit rash may call for a slightly different approach. You'll want to follow your physician's treatment instructions and take any medication as prescribed. in the meantime, you can also apply unscented glycerol-based moisturizers to excessively dry and scaly skin. Finally, as with any armpit rash, avoid scratching the affected area.

BeautyAnswered is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By anon299637 — On Oct 25, 2012

My armpits have been like this since pretty much puberty, or at least since I started shaving. It's a big self-conscious thing, especially when I think of going to a school dance. I have to think of what to wear for sleeves to cover it up.

By Sinbad — On Oct 16, 2011

@popcorn - Thank you for suggesting this! I have had pretty dry, itchy skin for the past couple months. I thought maybe it was just do to getting older and the medication I take. But I am at least going to switch detergents, probably to an unscented kind, for sensitive skin, and see if this helps. If it doesn’t, at least I will know I need to go have a doctor look at it and see if their are any cures for my dry skin I have developed quite recently.

I actually have the opposite problem when it comes to my armpits though, I have excessively wet armpits most of the time, and I am not that active. It has been so bad that many of my shirts have pit stains and a pit smell, which is disgusting and embarrassing. Does anyone know of any home remedies for this and for getting the stains and smells out?

I have tried a few different deodorants with antiperspirants in them, but so far, none have worked. I have just started to use a clinical-chosen one that is dermatologist-recommended, and at least so far it seems to have helped some, although no cure yet. Does anyone know what to do to get dryer armpits, besides using an antiperspirant or seeing a dermatologist?

By OeKc05 — On Oct 15, 2011

One thing that can really dry out your armpits is spray-on sunscreen. I used to be overzealous with it and apply it on every exposed area of my body.

This kind of sunscreen is really hard to remove, even when you scrub in the shower. Scrubbing also irritates the armpits.

After I noticed how dry they had become, I asked myself the obvious question, “Do I really need sunscreen under my arms?” I never laid out with my arms above my head. They never really saw the light.

I realized I was just being overprotective of my skin. I stopped using it on my armpits, and they returned to normal.

By kylee07drg — On Oct 15, 2011

After years of normal armpits, I suddenly began getting a burning sensation under there. My skin turned red, and the inflammation was unbearable.

I had recently been unable to find my usual deodorant. So, I bought the closest thing I could find to it. Something about this new deodorant irritated my underarms intensely.

I found a different kind that is formulated to smooth and moisturize underarms. It’s also supposed to make them appear more attractive.

The first day with my new deodorant was a good one. The burning went away, and it smelled so nice that my friends asked what type of perfume I was wearing! I just hope I can always find this kind in stores, because I would hate to end up with another one that makes me burn.

By shell4life — On Oct 14, 2011

I used to shave my armpits every night in the summer so that no stubble would show when I wore sleeveless dresses. This led to incredibly dry, flaky skin.

I figured out that I really didn’t get enough stubble in a day’s time to matter. I went two days without shaving before feeling it was absolutely necessary. This helped my skin feel much more comfortable.

I also switched to a razor with a moisturizing aloe strip attached. It seemed to put a smooth layer of lotion across my skin, and even after I rinsed away the shave gel, the area felt smoother than before.

By seag47 — On Oct 14, 2011

I used to have dry, itchy armpits that burned. I figured out a simple way to keep them from becoming irritated, and I have used it every day since.

I shower at night, so I don’t really need my antiperspirant/deodorant then. I had been applying it as soon as I got out of the shower, as well as again in the morning before work. I stopped applying it at night, and instead, I applied some aloe vera gel.

The aloe vera moisturized my skin. It also helped soothe my armpits after shaving, which I did every other night. I think part of the burning may have been caused by the deodorant getting into nicked skin.

By MrsWinslow — On Oct 13, 2011

I've had a lot of good results from switching from antiperspirant to deodorant. A lot of people don't realize that they're actually different things. Antiperspirants keep you from sweating as much; deodorants make your sweat not smell as bad. Most products on the market are both.

But you can get natural crystal deodorant, which doesn't have the harsh chemicals in antiperspirant. It won't keep you from stinking if you're outside in the sun or working out very hard, but it's quite adequate if you shower daily and spend most of the day in air-conditioning, maybe hitting the gym for an hour after work.

I've actually never struggled with dry armpits, but I always had trouble with my clothes being ruined by sweat stains. Turns out, it wasn't a sweat stain at all - it was an antiperspirant stain. Since I changed, no trouble with that at all. It stands to reason that the harsh chemicals could be irritating and that some people might find relief by trying a natural deodorant.

By turquoise — On Oct 13, 2011

@Mae82-- That is such a great tip! I go swimming all the time, so I will definitely try that out.

My armpits become really dry in winter especially or if I travel somewhere where there is really dry weather. My skin can't adapt so quickly and becomes very dry and irritated. It's so bothersome because if my t-shirt rubs up against it, it becomes all red and painful.

It's even worse when I go the pool although I love to swim. So I'm definitely going to apply some baby oil next time I go. Since it's slippery, it would probably prevent the irritation caused by rubbing clothes too, wouldn't it?

By burcinc — On Oct 12, 2011

I had this condition too but mine was really a unique situation. Last month, all of the sudden, I started seeing these white areas on my skin. It was on my arms, my armpits, my hands and even some on my face! They were itchy and really dry.

I went to the doctor and he told me that I had a kind of skin fungal infection. After a test, they found out it was a kind of fungi that happens on pets! I was infected by my cat!

I guess when I stroked my cat and touched my skin, it spread on my skin and made those areas really dry, white and itchy. I've been using a medication for it, and so is my cat. It's almost completely gone now but if I hadn't gone to the doctor, I would have never guessed what it was. My armpits are also much better now.

By Mae82 — On Oct 11, 2011

If you find that your armpits get dry after going into a swimming pool there is actually a really easy solution. What I do is put a bit of baby oil under my arms before I go swimming. Not enough to make the pool dirty, but just enough to keep the water from getting at my armpits. You would be surprised how well it works.

What is also nice is that baby oil is a great moisturizer, so any dryness that is still there gets treated by the oil. It's a cheap and easy way to keep your armpits feeling right.

By popcorn — On Oct 11, 2011

I have found that dry armpits can be caused by detergent you use to wash your clothes in. I was suffering from dry skin pretty much everywhere and it seemed like no matter how much lotion I used I was still itchy and getting flaky skin.

My mom suggested that I might be allergic to the detergent I was using, and you know what? She was completely right. I switched to a new brand and found that my skin stopped being so irritated and dry.

I think that you should really try and see what environmental factors are impacting your skin, as you might be able to help yourself by just changing some of the products that you use.

By fify — On Oct 11, 2011

My new anti-perspirant deodorant was causing my armpits to become really dry. I had never experienced this before and it took me a couple of days to realize what was causing it.

I stopped using the deodorant right away and after showering applied a lot of vaseline moisturizer. I think vaseline works well because it keeps the moisture in so the skin doesn't dry out any more than it has. I used it for a couple of days and my armpits went back to normal.

I will never use that brand of deodorant again. I'm either going to get one with lotion in it or I might try an all natural one because it has less chemicals. I think the more chemicals in the deodorant, the more it will dry out skin.

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