Speaking from personal experience, dark underarms are just downright annoying. As a woman of color, I’ve had to deal with an armpit shadow for my whole adult life. For the most part, I don’t think about it. I mean, they’re hidden 90 percent of the time anyway. Then the moment comes when I’m angling my phone over my head for the perfect summertime selfie, and my pits are on full display. A dark smudge on my photo moment. So, I started to wonder. What causes armpits to darken over time? And what the heck can I do about it?
According to the dermatologist I talked to, I’m definitely not the only person asking these questions. “People come in quite a bit complaining of dark underarms, elbows, and knees,” Carlos Charles, M.D., founder of Derma di Colore, tells SELF. He explains that discoloration often runs in families and can sometimes be associated with medical conditions such as diabetes. Overall, it is more common in patients with darker skin tones. “In darker skin, our cells are better at producing more pigment,” he says. Because of that, skin issues that cause hyperpigmentation—the overproduction of pigment, or a darkening of the skin—are “much more obvious and much more common.”
And guess what can lead to hyperpigmentation. Shaving.
“People shave the underarms quite a bit, which can lead to inflammation, as well as repetitive trauma and friction,” Charles says. “Whenever there’s any repetitive friction on the skin, the skin responds by becoming a little bit thicker, and thicker skin is often a little bit darker, or hyperpigmented.”
Are dark underarms the reason you have stopped wearing your favorite sleeveless top or going out for a swim? There is always a solution to the problems we face in our day-to-day lives. However, before moving on to the various remedies that can help you reduce discoloration of your underarms, let us understand the causes behind the problem. Very often, dead cells accumulate in the underarm area and cause darkness. These dead cells are a result of non-exposure of the skin in that area. A lot of us also use skin products that contain chemicals, which we are unaware of. A common example is deodorants, the content of which tends to react with our skin, causing discoloration. Acanthosis Nigricans is a medical condition that occurs in individuals who are overweight. It can also occur in those who suffer from gland disorders. It results in a velvet-like layer under the arms which darkens the skin. Shaving is another major factor of underarm darkening because while shaving, the hair is cut right above the surface of the skin, making the area look dark.
Lemon acts as a natural bleaching agent, and has powerful antibacterial and antiseptic properties. Because of its natural cleanser properties, the restaurants use it in washing bowls with warm water. Its acidic properties help effectively not only for lightening skin (including dark armpits and underarms), but also in exfoliating dead skin cells. Nothing is as good a natural lightener as the lemon is!!
The mild acidic property in potatoes acts as a natural bleaching agents.
Cucumber is another natural ingredient that has skin lightening properties, just like potatoes.
It’s another effective treatment to get rid of dark underarms. This remedy works to lighten the skin tone and also exterminates bacteria and germs that feed on dead skin cells.
The vitamins and fatty acids contained in milk work for getting rid of dark underarms. Milk softens the skin and renders the skin tone lighter. Moreover, when mixed with plain yogurt or curd the additional lactic acid too helps in lightening the skin. This is a very effective armpits mask, as it not only cleanses and bleaches your skin to give your skin a lighter tone, but moisturize it as well.
Accumulation of dead skin cells is the main reason for dark discoloration under the arms. The exfoliating nature of baking soda removes the dead skin cells and unclogs the pores. Instead of using antiperspirants and deodorants, you can use baking soda to prevent body odor which is also one of the reason for dark underarms.
Oranges contain bleaching / exfoliating properties that help to lighten the dark underarms, and also can be used as a natural deodorant. It acts as a natural scrub for your armpits and prevents the darkness by removing the dead skin cells.
Coconut oil contains vitamin E that helps to lighten the underarms. With this process, you will observe a slow improvement in whitening.