Causes and Treatment for Underarm Dark Spots

By Patricia | June 1, 2009

Dark spots can develop due to a number of different reasons. Ageing results in dark spots on the backs of the hands and on the face. Exposure to the sun can cause dark patches and burning, and infections or insect bites can lead to dark spots and skin rashes. Dark spots and patches can also develop on the delicate skin of the underarms. This can lead to embarrassment and an unpleasant appearance, especially when wearing sleeveless clothes.

Causes

Some of the common causes of dark underarm spots are:

  • Hyperpigmentation can occur as a result of any injury or trauma to the skin or due to a medical condition known as acanthosis nigricans. Dark skinned people, obese people and those with diabetes are prone to developing this condition.
  • Fungal and bacterial infections such as fungal intertrigo may also lead to dark spots or red itchy patches under the armpit.
  • Certain medications such as tetracycines, sulfonamides and estrogens may cause sensitive skin to develop dark spots.
  • Shaving the skin regularly may damage the skin, causing fine nicks and cuts. These lesions may then become discolored and result in dark spots on the underarms.
  • Certain skin care products such as deodorants and perspirants contain harmful or harsh ingredients that cause discoloration of the skin.
  • A darkening of the underarms is common during puberty. This is due to the fluctuation of hormonal levels. This is quite normal and nothing to be worried about. The problem is more pronounced in women than for in men, although the exact reasons for the difference is not known.
  • Ultraviolet light is another major cause of dark spots on the skin and other kinds of skin damage. The kinds of dark spots that are caused by ultraviolet light are melasma, solar lentigines (freckles), and ephelides.
  • Other causes of dark spots are liver disease, Addison’s disease, hemochromatosis, and pituitary tumors.

Treatment

If the cause of skin discoloration on the underarms is due to shaving, switch to waxing or an alternative means of hair removal such as depilatory cream or electrolysis. For dark spots caused by antiperspirants or other skin products, simply switch the brand that you use. Look for products that are gentle on sensitive skin or those targeted at lightening the skin tone. Medical conditions such as Acanthosis Nigricans that may be causing dark spots should be treated with medication. Weight loss and controlling blood sugar levels also help treat this condition.

Home Remedies

There are a number of safe and natural home remedies for dark spots on the underarms that have no harmful side effects:

  • Rub a slice of lemon to lighten the skin. Lemons are a natural bleaching agent and contain citric acid that effectively removes dead skin cells and reduces spots. Remember not to do this if there are any open cuts or sores on the skin or just after shaving as lemon juice can sting.
  • Make a paste of lemon juice and baking soda and apply to the underarms to lighten skin naturally. Do this daily for the most effective treatment for getting rid of dark underarm spots.
  • Apply pure coconut oil on the underarm to get rid of dark spots and pigmentation.
  • Mix equal quantities of lemon juice and cucumber juice and a little bit of turmeric powder. Apply this paste to the underarms and leave for 20 minutes before rinsing off. Experts recommend the use of lactic acid found in milk, yoghurt and other dairy products to exfoliate and lighten the skin. Apply the product with a cotton ball and leave for ten to fifteen minutes before rinsing off. This also helps get a more even skin tone and reduce pigmentation.
  • Exfoliate your skin to remove a build up of dead cells and prevent body odor. You can make your own scrub by mixing brown sugar with olive oil. Rub this paste over the underarms while bathing.
  • Along with the treatment on how to get rid of dark spots it is also important that you follow a proper diet consisting of plenty of fruits, whole grains, potatoes and broccoli.
  • Try exfoliating the skin and applying a mild lightening lotion; also use only skin-sensitive and hypoallergenic deodorants and antiperspirants that do not sting on application.

If none of these natural remedies work, consult with your doctor or dermatologist about possible medical or cosmetic treatments. Skin creams that contain hydroquinone may help with dark skin patches and spots but may be harmful to those with sensitive skin. You could also opt for a laser treatment to permanently reduce or remove dark spots on the underarms.

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