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What should your underarm care routine look like?

There’s more to armpit care than regular deodorant application!

Curology Team Avatar
by Curology Team
Updated on Jun 3, 2024 • 7 min read
Medically reviewed by Melissa Hunter, NP-C
Young Woman Raising her Arm and Showing Clean Underarm
Curology Team Avatar
by Curology Team
Updated on Jun 3, 2024 • 7 min read
Medically reviewed by Melissa Hunter, NP-C
We’re here to share what we know — but don’t take it as medical advice. Talk to your medical provider if you have questions.

You may apply deodorant everyday, but did you know there’s more to underarm care? Armpit maintenance is an often-overlooked aspect of personal hygiene and skincare that can have a significant impact on confidence. There’s more to it than showering and staying dry!

Here, we’ll present the insights from our team of licensed dermatology providers to explain common armpit concerns, and offer effective solutions. By understanding the root causes of excessive sweating and how to find the right products for your underarms, you can feel confident in just about any situation—no need to worry about unpleasant odors or sweat stains.

Here at Curology, we currently focus on the diagnosis and treatment of acne, rosacea, and anti-aging concerns. We do not treat many of the conditions mentioned in this article. This article is for information purposes.

Why is underarm care important?

A lot of reasons! Here are a few ways underarm care can benefit your overall health.

Limits bacteria growth

Unlike skin in other regions, the underarm area contains a high concentration of sweat glands,¹ which can lead to an accumulation of bacteria on the skin.² These bacteria, namely, Staphylococcus and Corynebacterium, are responsible for the characteristic odor associated with underarms.³ Proper care may help reduce the accumulation of this bacteria.⁴

Helps monitoring of overall health

The underarms can provide important clues about a person’s overall health. Certain conditions such as diabetes, hormone imbalances, and malignancies can manifest in the underarm area, making it a vital area to monitor for changes.⁵ 

For instance, excessive sweating or odors that are not alleviated by hygiene practices could indicate a medical condition. Additionally, skin changes or lumps in the underarm region should be evaluated by a healthcare provider. By paying attention to your underarms and seeking medical attention when necessary, you may identify potential health issues early and receive prompt treatment.⁶

Reducing side effects of hair removal

Underarm care may help prevent various issues such as hyperpigmentation, odor, and dryness that often arise due to underarm hair removal.⁷ Shaving, waxing, or using hair removal creams may lead to irritation, ingrown hairs, and dryness, which can cause the skin to darken or become discolored over time. These hair removal techniques can also lead to an accumulation of bacteria, resulting in unpleasant odors.⁸

How to take care of your underarms?

In order to achieve healthy and comfortable underarms, be sure to practice effective hair removal techniques if you chooe to shave, such as using a sharp razor and regularly replacing razor blades, using high-quality skincare products that are moisturizing on your skin,⁹ and maintaining good hygiene habits, including daily cleansing and wearing clean clothing.

Deodorant

There are two main types of underarm products–antiperspirants and deodorants. Antiperspirants contain aluminum salts that work by blocking sweat glands and killing off bacteria, thus preventing odors.¹⁰ 

Deodorants are used to mask odors and, are made from natural substances and avoid aluminum salts.¹¹ It is still importanto monitor for possible side effects as everyone’s skin is different. Understanding the pros and cons of each type can help individuals choose the best product for their needs and preferences. Whichever type of products you use, it is important to pay attention to any potential side effects and discontinue use if any irritation or allergic reaction occurs.¹²

Exfoliation 

Glycolic acid and salicylic acid are effective exfoliants for patients with ingrown hairs, according to research studies.¹³ Glycolic acid works by penetrating the skin deeply and breaking down the bonds of the protein structures causing the hair to grow straighter, while salicylic acid displays anti-inflammatory properties and also dissolves the buildup of dead skin cells on the surface.¹⁴ Using a body wash with salicylic acid like the Acne Body Wash from Curology contains salicylic acid that can help exfoliate the underarms. 

Both glycolic acid and salicylic acid help to unclog hair follicles, prevent further ingrown hairs, and improve overall skin texture. They are usually well tolerated, but it’s a good idea to consult with a healthcare professional before starting their use.

Use proper razors

If you choose to shave your underarm hair as a part of your underarm care routine, it is important to use a sharp razor and regularly change your razor blades to avoid irritation, razor bumps, and ingrown hairs. Dull razors can cause uneven cuts and pull on the hair, leading to skin irritation, inflammation, and potential infections. Use shaving cream or gel to lubricate the skin and avoid dryness, which can cause razor burns. Taking care when shaving can help you achieve smooth and healthy-looking underarms.

After shaving, it's recommended to avoid applying deodorant or antiperspirant immediately as it may cause stinging or irritation. Wait for a few minutes to allow the skin to dry before applying any products.

Taking care of your skin all over

Proper underarm care is essential for maintaining good health, hygiene, and preventing unpleasant odors or skin irritations. The unique characteristics of underarm skin makes it more prone to bacterial growth and skin irritations, making it necessary to pay attention to this area.

Prioritizing underarm care can lead to better hygiene, more comfortable skin, and improved health outcomes. That’s why taking the time to care for your underarms can have a significant impact on your overall well-being and confidence. 

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Get your personalized skincare routine with Curology

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While we don’t treat conditions specific to the underarm area, Curology can prescribe personalized formulas to treat skin conditions like acne, rosacea, and anti-aging concerns. For guidance on how to care for your skin from a licensed dermatology provider, start your personalized skincare journey today with a 30-day trial*.

FAQs

How do I take care of my armpits?

Taking care of your armpits includes daily cleansing, using a deodorant, shaving, exfoliating, using an underarm mask, and wearing breathable fabrics.

How should I moisturize my armpits?

Moisturize the underarm skin twice a day. In the morning, use a moisturizer followed by a deodorant, or opt for an anti-perspirant rich in moisturizing compounds. In the evening, moisturize again and then use a brightening product to reduce the hyperpigmentation of the skin in this area if needed.

How do I keep my armpits clean?

Infrequent showering can cause bacteria to build up on your skin. Shower at least once a day and wash your underarm area with a scent-free, antibacterial bath soap.

How can I improve the skin on my armpit?

It may be beneficial to use a pH-balanced underarm or body lotion once or twice a week, or more as needed for dryness. Another tip for keeping underarms smooth and supple is to take a break from shaving and deodorant if irritation is present.

• • •

P.S. We did the homework so you don't have to:

  1. Baker, L.B. Physiology of sweat gland function: The roles of sweating and sweat composition in human health. Temperature (Austin). (2019, July 17).

  2. Callewaert, C., et al. Towards a bacterial treatment for armpit malodour. Experimental Dermatology. (2016, November 28).

  3. Callewaert, C., et al. Towards a bacterial treatment for armpit malodour. Experimental Dermatology. Ibid.

  4. Evans, R.L. et al. Axillary skin: biology and care. International Journal of Cosmetic Science. (2012, May 22).

  5. Brady, M.F. and Rawla, P. Acanthosis Nigricans. StatPearls. (2022, October 9).

  6. Brady, M.F. and Rawla, P. Acanthosis Nigricans. StatPearls. Ibid.

  7. Evans, R.L. et al. Axillary skin: biology and care. International Journal of Cosmetic Science. Ibid.

  8. Evans, R.L. et al. Axillary skin: biology and care. International Journal of Cosmetic Science. Ibid.

  9. Evans, R.L. et al. Axillary skin: biology and care. International Journal of Cosmetic Science. Ibid.

  10. de Oliveira, E.C.V., et al. Deodorants and antiperspirants: identification of new strategies and perspectives to prevent and control malodor and sweat of the body

    . International Journal of Dermatology. (2021, March 1). 

  11. Bhatt, H.B. and Patel, N.B. Natural Deodorants: A way towards sustainable cosmetics. International Journal of Pharmaceutical Science and Health Care. (2021, June 23).

  12. Al-Talib, H., et al. Antimicrobial Effects of Tetraspanin CD9 Peptide against Microbiota Causing Armpit Malodour. Antibiotics. (2023, January 29). 

  13. Ogunbiyi, A. Pseudofolliculitis barbae; current treatment options. Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology. (2022, December 28). 

  14. Norwood, D.A., et al. Pseudofolliculitis Barbae: Prevention and Treatment. U.S. Pharmacist. (2016, October 14).

Melissa Hunter is a board certified family nurse practitioner at Curology. She received her MSN from George Washington University in Washington, DC.

*Cancel anytime. Subject to consultation. Results may vary.

We’re here to tell you what we know. That’s why our information is evidence-based and fact-checked by medical experts. Still, everyone’s skin is unique—the best way to get advice is to talk to your healthcare provider.

Empowering you with knowledge is our top priority. Our reviews of other brands’ products in this post are not paid endorsements—but they do meet our medically fact-checked standards for ingredients (at the time of publication).

• • •
Our medical review process:We’re here to tell you what we know. That’s why our information is evidence-based and fact-checked by medical experts. Still, everyone’s skin is unique—the best way to get advice is to talk to your healthcare provider.
Our policy on product links:Empowering you with knowledge is our top priority. Our reviews of other brands’ products in this post are not paid endorsements—but they do meet our medically fact-checked standards for ingredients (at the time of publication).
Curology Team Avatar

Curology Team

Melissa Hunter

Melissa Hunter, NP-C

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