Wearing sleeveless/mega-sleeve dresses, spaghetti tops or swimsuits look picture-perfect on any of us only when our skin looks radiant and healthy. Blemishes, tans or other factors spoil our look and crush away our desires. Skin, the largest organ of the human body, acts as the protector keeping the inside of the body intact and the external world out. Our skin comprises of immune cells that protect our body against bacteria, viruses and other threats. At the slightest hint of these parasites the cells begin a chain reaction and cause inflammation of the skin. This is medically termed as dermatitis or commonly called as a rash. Dermatitis varies in types and each type has a distinct treatment.
Dermatitis loves to strike our underarms as our armpit is often hidden away from the external world with a protective layer of clothing but bothers us as much as possible internally! A rash in the armpit is common because rashes primarily target areas of skin that look uneasy or feel uncomfortable for more than a couple of hours. These armpit rashes can be red and bumpy or white and scaly, can last anywhere between few hours and few months, have various number of causes and likewise, follow various treatment procedures depending on the rash type. Rashes caused due to weather changes disappear quickly while those appearing due to skin conditions or lifestyle factors remain for a longer time. Let’s look into the various types of armpit rashes:
Eczema: Also known as atopic dermatitis eczema is a non-contagious skin inflammation occurring in the areas where there are skin folds normally, for instance, the back of the knees, the inside of the elbows or armpits. Eczema-affected skin is red, itchy, dry, cracked and can bleed due to constant scratching. Rarely, these rashes release clear fluid due to scratching. People with eczema can experience flare-ups during certain times of the year, when they are stressed or ill too. Otherwise they stay normal. Researchers have identified certain genes that are responsible for acting as the guard between the outside world and the human body. Individuals with certain variants of this genes are likely to get atopic dermatitis.
Seborrheic dermatitis: Although a type of eczema, this produces symptoms that are quite the opposite of eczema. Seborrheic dermatitis is the result of overproduction of sebum or skin oils and hence, appears as oily patches of white or yellow flakes. The rashes are greasy in nature, look red and swollen and cause itchiness/burning sensation.
Contact dermatitis: Excitedly we spray our armpits with one of the latest perfume collections and quite in sometime our underarms start itching and burning. This is contact dermatitis, a skin irritation that happens when you encounter an allergen or irritant. A new laundry detergent, fragrance of your perfume, skin lotion or shirt fabric can cause contact dermatitis. Insect stings, medicines, food allergens and even watch straps that come in contact with our skin can cause contact dermatitis.
Candida: This is a fungal infection caused by yeasts present mostly in moist skin areas such as the underarms, throat, mouth, vagina and esophagus. Swelling, itching and redness are common symptoms that can be aggravated to a great extent in hot weather, tight clothes or unhygienic practices. It is best to use antifungal creams to treat candida rashes.
Chafing: Skin to skin contact or skin to dress contact causes chafing. Here also, areas where the skin folds or rubs against each other (mostly thighs and armpits) are commonly affected. Redness, swelling, burning sensation, bleeding or cracked skin are common symptoms. Chafing occurs mostly during the hot summer season or anytime in individuals who are overweight due to thigh-to-thigh contact. Underarm chafing is common when people exercise with clothing that don’t fit comfortably or when individuals sweat excessively while doing some activity. Read more on chafing and preventive tips to avoid it from the website www.firsteatright.com.
Heat rashes too are common due to excess sweat and can cause small patches that are tiny, red and prickly. Also, people who remove their underarm hair develop tiny, painful bumps in and around hair follicles after waxing/shaving their underarms.
Home remedies can often cure a rash when the rash is the result of an allergic reaction or skin irritation.
Avoiding an Underarm Rash
First and foremost, practice good hygiene and shower regularly. If you suspect any deodorant/perfume to be the culprit, stop using it immediately. Tight-fitting clothes made of synthetic material don’t provide ways for sweat to escape and this can lead to an underarm rash. If you tend to sweat profusely, please ensure to avoid such clothes completely. Wear loose-fitting ones that provide a proper way out for body sweat. If you are prone to heat rashes, take precautionary steps and apply talcum powder during hot seasons to prevent one. If you are unable to single out a specific cause for the rash, it is better to meet an allergist.
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.