Itchy Armpits

Causes And Treatment Of Itchy Armpits

Pruritus is sometimes listed or mentioned as a cause of itchy armpits. This can be a little misleading, since pruritus is the medical term for itching, and the number of possible causes of itching or pruritus is large indeed. In order to find a proper treatment for itchy armpits, it may help to review some of the more common causes, and go from there. Itching can be caused either by foreign agents coming into contact with the skin, fiberglass insulation being a classic example, or by substances produced within the body. Factors such as tight clothing, a humid environment, or simply dry skin due to a lack of humidity can cause itching, including itching under the armpits.

Lack Of Cleanliness - The first thing to look at would be personal hygiene. If the armpit area is not regularly washed, the combination of warmth, moisture (sweating), and dirt, provides a comfortable environment for the growth of the bacteria which normally live on the skin. An excessive growth of bacteria is probably the most common cause of itching in general, and itchy armpits in particular. Sweating itself, especially excessive sweating, is sometimes a direct cause of itching and not often preventable. In such cases, a program of effective personal hygiene is even more important.

Clogged Glands - Clogged sweat glands can also result in a situation where itchy armpits are being experienced. When the glands become clogged, as sometimes can happen, cysts may form and become infected, causing itching. This condition, called hidradenitis suppurativa, usually requires medication, and can be a long lasting disorder. Young women sometimes experience a similar inflammation of the sweat glands called Fox-Fordyce disease, where itchy bumps on the skin is the primary symptom. Both Fox-Fordyce disease and hidradenitis suppurativa respond to antibiotics, and injections of anti-inflammatory drugs.

Candida - Candida, or yeast infection is another cause of itchy armpits. Candida occurs in areas in the body which are warm and moist, these places being breeding grounds for bacteria. Candida is more often experienced in the mouth, where a coated tongue is the most common symptom, but can also occur in the groin area, near the anus, and in women, in the vagina. Candida is treatable, usually with antibiotics, though the treatment often brings on a new set of problems. As the Candida is killed off, the decaying bacteria produce skin irritants and at times the cure can seem worse than the disease. Many times Candida is treated in a manner such that bacteria die off is accomplished gradually, rather than all at once. When present in the vagina, Candida is usually referred to as a yeast infection. When in the groin area in men, it is called "jock itch".

Treatments - Treatment of itchy armpits naturally depends upon what is causing the itch in the first place. In the instances cited, treatment includes cleansing, antibiotics, or anti-inflammatory medications. Treatment will in some cases cure the condition and in other cases simply address the symptoms, the itching, and provide relief, if only temporarily. There are numerous antipruritics (anti-itch medicines) which can be purchased over the counter, usually in the form of topical cremes or lotions. Hydrocortisone is often quite effective but must be applied in low concentrations as it thins the skin as well as relieves itching. Itching sometimes is more severe when the skin is exposed to a combination of heat and humidity. Moving to a cooler environment, and wearing clothing that helps keep the body cool can often help.

In most cases, an anti-bacterial or anti-fungal medication will probably cure itchy armpits, but if an over-the-counter medication is not working, it would be best to see a care provider or dermatologist, who would be in the best position to prescribe a proper course of treatment.