4 Reasons Why You’ve Suddenly Developed Dark Armpits

Here's the low-down.


Women's Health |

Your armpits could be darker than they should be for at least four different reasons:

CAUSE 1: Shaving

When you shave, you cut your hair off at, or just below, the surface of the skin. If the hair is darker than your skin colour, your skin can appear to have a dark stain, but it’s really just subsurface hair. Instead of shaving, try waxing — it gets rid of hair from a deeper level. Frequent hair removal can also trigger hyperpigmentation (velvety, dark patches) in dark-skinned women, so laser hair removal may be a solution to consider instead.

READ MORE: Everything You Need To Know Before Your Laser Hair Removal Appointment

CAUSE 2: Build-up of dead skin cells

Dark spots under your arms can be the result of dead skin cells that are trapped in the microscopic “hills and valleys” on your skin. Try exfoliating at least once a week with a product that contains lactic acid.

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CAUSE 3: Antiperspirant and deodorant usage

In theory, some ingredients in these products (perhaps fragrance) could inflame your skin and cause discolouration. Dark skinned women are at most risk of this form of hyper-pigmentation, which can also be triggered by friction from your arm motion. Look for deodorants that are fragrance-free or contain Pro-Vitamin B5 to reduce inflammation.

READ MORE: The 7 Best Natural Deodorants To Keep You Stink-Free All Day

CAUSE 4: Acanthosis nigricans

This medical condition causes light-brown to black markings on the neck, under the arms or in the groin. It can be related to insulin production or to a glandular disorder, and it typically occurs in people who are overweight — if this applies to you, see a doctor and try to limit sugar and simple carbs to control insulin production. It can also be caused by hormones, be triggered by medication or be a condition you inherit. You can lighten your underarms with a cream such as Retin-A or one that contains alpha-hydroxy acids or salicylic acid.

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