Dealing With Dark Underarms? Here's How To Get Rid Of The Issue

The only thing that's worse than smelly underarms is dark underarms. Although they are normal, they can be a big blight on your skin's landscape should you choose to go sleeveless. 

Discoloration of the underarms can be caused by a variety of factors.They can be a result of the irritating compounds in deodorants or antiperspirants that you apply to your underarms daily. Abrasive hair removal methods — like shaving and tweezing — can make the underarms appear darker than the rest of your body. Lack of exfoliation in the underarm area can also lead to an accumulation of dead skin cells, which contributes to the pigmented appearance. Medical conditions, such as Addison's disease and acanthosis nigricans, can also be the culprit behind the darkening of the skin under the arms. 


Although there's no reason to be ashamed of dark underarms, it's understandable that they can make you super self-conscious when wearing a bikini or a sleeveless top. Imagine how inconvenient it is to don a gorgeous cocktail dress to an event and have to be mindful to not raise your arms the entire time. Fortunately, dark underarms don't have to be a permanent issue. There are ways to help you get rid of the discoloration, from home remedies to advanced medical treatments. Below, check out different ways to lighten your underarms and flaunt them with confidence. 

Use underarm masks with natural bleaching properties

There are some home remedies that might improve the condition of your darkened underarms. Aloe vera gel works well to reduce inflammation and brighten skin. Aloin, a depigmenting substance found in aloe vera, is effective in lessening the appearance of hyperpigmentation and stops new melanin from developing in the skin. In a post on Instagram, dermatologist Madhuri Agarwal advises, "Cut open a fresh leaf of aloe vera, extract some gel and apply it on the underarms for 15-20 minutes. Let it dry and then wash it. Practice this once in two days for effective results."


Another natural bleaching agent that can lighten the skin over time is lemon juice. It contains a high level of citric acid that helps promote exfoliation, even out skin tone, and decrease body odor. However, the acidic nature of lemon can make your skin sensitive to sunlight, causing irritation and worsening hyperpigmentation if applied directly. To reap the benefits of lemon juice, use it with another ingredient that's more soothing, like honey, yogurt, or aloe vera gel.   

Turmeric, a well-known inhibitor of melanin production, is also a highly recommended natural skin brightener. Mix it with yogurt, honey, or mashed banana, and apply the mixture to your underarm skin. With frequent use, these natural masks can lighten the pigmented areas of the skin and give it a more even tone.


Ditch traditional deodorants/antiperspirants for natural alternatives

Your journey to brighter underarms can start with you taking a break from traditional deodorants. According to Cutis Medical Laser Clinics, some active ingredients in deodorants and antiperspirants, when mixed with the bacteria and salt in your armpit sweat, can result in the darkening of the skin over time. Instead of traditional options, you can use natural deodorant that includes ingredients like witch hazel or apple cider vinegar. Do note though, that although natural methods are healthier, they will take a longer time to show results.


If you are concerned about body order prevention while using natural methods, you can eliminate it by showering more often with an antibacterial soap bar. "Oils such as bergamot, blood orange, clove, cedarwood, patchouli, vetiver, and even florals for women such as ylang ylang, lavender, cypress, and geranium are very good at eliminating odor, and they are also antibacterial and prevent sweating," aromatherapist Richard Hammond tells Bustle. Rubbing alcohol can also help you get rid of smelly underarm in an instant.

On the off chance that you need an instant fix to your dark underarms, we suggest you check out tinted deodorants that color-correct your skin while keeping you smelling fresh. 

Use products containing hydroquinone

As far as topical treatments go, creams containing hydroquinone can be a great help to discolored armpits. Hydroquinone is effective in inhibiting the production of melanin in the skin. It is commonly found in products that treat hyperpigmentation disorders such as melasma, freckles, and lentigines. Available in creams, gels, or emulsions, hydroquinone can be purchased over the counter in concentrations of 2% or 4%, according to a study published in the StatPearls.


Although hydroquinone is an effective lightening agent in and of itself, numerous studies suggest that it works best when used in combination with a retinoid and a corticosteroid. Hydroquinone 4%, tretinoin 0.05%, and fluocinolone acetonide 0.01% make up a powerful skin-lightening combo that's often prescribed for the treatment of melasma.

According to Paula's Choice, your discolored pits can also benefit from a surface cleaning by an AHA or BHA exfoliant. Both AHA and BHA are powerful acids that enhance the look and feel of the skin by sloughing away dead skin cells and promoting cell turnover. Use AHA if you have sensitive skin or BHA if you have oily and acne-prone skin. Or you can also use both of them, with AHA coming first, followed up with BHA. These acids can make your skin susceptible to sun damage, so take care to apply sunscreen liberally to your underarm area before going out.


Consider advanced treatments

The constant friction from regular shaving and tweezing can darken your underarm and cause damage to the skin's surface. If you want to get rid of unwanted hair in a way that won't darken your skin, opt for a more long-term solution. A laser hair removal treatment, for instance, can save you the need to manually remove hair from your underarms, thus improving the skin tone there over time. 


Another option to fade superficial pigmentation is microdermabrasion, a minimally invasive exfoliation technique using fine crystals and a vacuum-like device. It can improve the texture and tone of the skin by physically removing the dead cells on its outer layer to expose a new layer of skin. For more stubborn dark patches, consider seeking out laser treatments that aim at breaking down the melanin in your skin.

There are various ways to get rid of dark underarms. However, you need to pinpoint the root cause of your issue before you can find an effective solution for it. If your underarms darken as a result of a medical issue, you'll have to treat the underlying condition first before your skin can improve. If you don't know the cause, speak with a healthcare provider for an accurate diagnosis and recommendations on treatment plans.