While annoying, you’re probably used to dealing with blackheads on your face. But, blackheads under your arms? Where do those come from, and how can you get rid of them? If you’ve developed underarm blackheads, you know how annoying, and sometimes painful, they can be; keep reading to learn more about what causes armpit pimples and how you can get rid of them.
Table of Contents
- Why Do You Get Blackheads in Your Armpits?
- How Do I Get Rid of Blackheads Under My Armpits?
- Underarm Blackheads and Acne: FAQs
- What’s Under There?
Why Do You Get Blackheads in Your Armpits?
There are a number of potential causes for armpit pimples.
Impurities and Oil
If oil or other debris enters the hair follicle openings, it can lead to blackheads forming. The skin underneath our arms is particularly delicate, which can make it even more likely for skin issues, such as blackheads, to develop.
Deodorant that is comedogenic can clog the hair follicles, which can make them more likely to clog. Check the label on your deodorant if you are concerned this may be your problem.
Some individuals are just more prone to developing underarm blackheads than others due to the genes they inherited. Additionally, as your hormones change, you may notice that more blackheads are developing under your arms than previously were.
Ingrown hairs are a top cause of underarm pimples. An ingrown hair is a hair that starts to grow out of the hair follicle, but becomes curled and ends up growing into the skin. They start off as a small bump that may be red. If the ingrown hair isn’t resolved, the bump may become larger and painful. The bump may be white, yellow, or red.
Friction is a leading cause of underarm blackheads. When your skin rubs against itself, it can cause irritation, which may lead to inflammation. The inflammation can cause the underarm’s pores to clog, which can result in blackheads. Tight clothing and other objects, such as a purse or backpack strap or bra, can also rub against the skin, irritate it, and increase the risk of pimples forming.
The areas under the arms are a common area for sweat to form. The added moisture from the sweat can cause the irritation from the skin rubbing against itself or other objects to become even worse.
Shaving with a razor under the arms can also increase friction in the area and irritate the skin. In most cases, the worst that will happen when you shave with a razor burn is mild irritation of the more delicate underarm skin. A rash with red bumps may also develop, but this will typically clear up on its own.
Razor burn, on the other hand, can result in an infection of the skin. The infection is often caused when bacteria is introduced into small cracks in the skin. Possible infections include folliculitis and boils, which can look very similar to a pimple.
Folliculitis, which can look like a small red bump near a hair strand, is a hair follicle infection. The bump may contain either blood or pus. As we shared above, folliculitis is sometimes caused by razor burn or the introduction of bacteria into the skin in the armpit.
Boils are another red bump you may find under your arm that are caused by a bacterial infection. Also called furuncles, boils can be quite painful. They are often caused by friction. Boils can become larger and get more painful if they are not treated.
How Do I Get Rid of Blackheads Under My Armpits?
The best way to get rid of blackheads under the armpits will vary depending on the specific cause of the blackheads.
Impurities and Oil
Keeping your underarm area clean will be your best defense against keeping impurities and oil out of your pores. Water-soluble cleansers are among the best for keeping blackheads away. In addition to cleansing the area, use BHAs (beta hydroxy acids) to exfoliate the skin to remove dead skin cells and unclog the pores.
This is one of the easiest problems to fix. If you’re using a comedogenic deodorant that is clogging your hair follicles and causing underarm blackheads, switch to a non-comedogenic deodorant, such as MagSol Rose Natural Deodorant.
If genetics aren’t in your favor, taking preventative measures will be especially important. Establish a consistent routine that involves cleansing the underarm area with a water-soluble cleanser and exfoliating the skin regularly. Also, be sure to regularly change your razor to ensure it is sharp and clean.
In most cases, ingrown hairs clear up on their own. What you don’t want to do is to try to pop the bump from the ingrown hair. Doing so may allow bacteria to get under the skin and lead to folliculitis.
To prevent ingrown hairs from occurring in the first place, exfoliate the skin under the arm as this can remove dead skin cells that could trap the hairs. Also, be sure to always use a clean and sharp razor. Using one that is too dull can nick the skin.
To treat skin irritated by friction, cleanse the area and gently pat it dry. You can then apply petroleum jelly to the area for some relief. Repeat this process a few times a day until the area is cleared up and not causing any pain.
If you’re dealing with small pimples from razor burn, there are a few things you can consider applying under your arm to help with the discomfort. These include coconut oil, aloe vera, baking soda paste, and sweet almond oil. Applying cold or warm compresses can also lessen the discomfort.
Since folliculitis is an infection, a doctor or dermatologist may prescribe an antibiotic to treat it. Alternatively, you can try using benzoyl peroxide wash or another antibacterial soap to get rid of the bacteria causing the infection. Just be warned that these soaps are known to irritate some people.
Treating a boil is important, because if you don’t treat it, it may become larger and cause you more pain. Do not try to pop a boil since it can make the infection worse. Rather, try using a moistened heat back two or three times each day on the boil. Eventually, the boil should rupture and drain itself. At this time, you can put petroleum jelly over it, cover it with gauze, and allow it to heal.
Sometimes, a boil may not go away on its own. If you have a stubborn boil that is very painful or you develop a fever, schedule an appointment with your doctor. They may decide to drain the boil by making an incision.
Underarm Blackheads and Acne: FAQs
How do you treat armpit acne?
The best way to treat armpit acne can vary based on the specific causes, but there are some treatments that can be quite effective on many of the reasons behind armpit acne. One treatment that often works well is to use a warm compress. Also be sure to keep the affected area clean to help the acne clear up more quickly.
Acne products formulated with benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid can also be effective at clearing up underarm blackheads.
Why am I getting acne in my armpits?
There are a number of potential causes for armpit pimples. These include oil and impurities, comedogenic deodorant, razor burn, ingrown hairs, folliculitis, friction, boils, and genetics.
Should you pop armpit pimples?
While it may be tempting to pop armpit pimples, doing so isn’t a good idea. Popping the pimple and squeezing the pus out can actually increase the chances that the bacteria from the pimple will make its way deeper into your skin. If this happens, it could increase pain and make your skin more inflamed. Additionally, popping a pimple could cause permanent scars to form on your skin.
How can I open my underarm pores?
If the pores in your armpit are clogged, wash the area using warm water and mild soap. You can also try soaking for 15 to 30 minutes in a warm bath or taking a hot shower. Warm water or steam can be quite effective at unclogging the pores.
What can dissolve blackheads?
Salicylic acid works to dissolve keratin. This is the substance that clogs the pores and causes blackheads.
What happens if you don’t remove blackheads?
In many cases, if you don’t remove a blackhead, it will go away on its own. However, sometimes when blackheads aren’t removed they can become deep blackheads. Deep blackheads are made up of oil and skin debris. They block the pores. Unlike regular blackheads, deep blackheads are hardened and lead to accumulation of oil and debris deeper within the pores.
How do I treat an ingrown hair in my armpit?
There are a few different ways you can try treating ingrown armpit hairs. These include exfoliating the area, using a steroid cream or moisturizer, gently scrubbing the area in a circular motion using a soft toothbrush, or applying a topical retinoid.
Why do I get so many ingrown hairs in my armpit?
Some causes for ingrown armpit hairs include hair removal methods, such as shaving or clogged hair follicles.
How do I prevent ingrown hairs on my armpits?
To prevent ingrown hairs on your armpits, exfoliate the armpit area regularly. Since shaving is a frequent cause of ingrown hairs, take care when shaving. Use a clean single-blade razor and be sure to shave in the direction that the hair grows. After you have finished shaving, wet a washcloth with cool water and apply it to the armpit area.
How do you draw out an ingrown hair?
When you have an ingrown hair, the best way to safely get rid of it is to be patient and resist the urge to pop the hair bump or try to use tweezers. To speed up the process of the hair removing itself, you can apply a warm compress to the armpit area.
After the skin is softened from the heat, gently rub a soft toothbrush in a circular motion over the armpit area. This works to exfoliate the skin and remove dead skin cells, which often will help draw out the hair. If this is not effective enough, you can try a chemical exfoliant formulated with salicylic acid.
What’s Under There?
Underarm blackheads can be a real nuisance and a real pain! Hopefully you’ve gained useful information to help you learn how to treat your underarm pimples and steps you can take to prevent them from happening again in the future.
Check out these related posts on our blog to learn more about caring for the delicate skin under your arms:
Thanks Sophie! Glad you found this post useful!
Very informative post, I’ve never had underarm breakouts or blackheads but I am prone to ingrown hairs because of skin sensitivity and it can be so annoying to try and get rid of them. These are great tips! x
You’re very welcome!
Thanks for the tip, Ashley!
Thanks for sharing!
Informative post! Definitely hate razor bumps but since I’ve switched to a natural deodorant, they occur less and less!
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