Are you ashamed of wearing a sleeveless dress because of dark armpits? One can certainly feel wearing an exposing dress with undertoned armpits is a terrible idea. It truly is.

But what if you can get rid of dark underarms? Surely that would be a dream come true, isn’t it?

Underarms area is one of the most ignored areas of the body. Most people think that It is not exposed to as many pollutants and chemicals as the rest of your body. Right? Well, think again. Your underarm skin is constantly coming in contact with chemicals and friction in the form of deodorants and harsh clothes and the skin under your arms is much more sensitive than you think. Not taking enough care of your underarm area leads to gradual hyperpigmentation or darkening of the skin, which just becomes a matter of social and aesthetic concern.

But you don’t really have to make it a life and death matter. Dark armpits can be treated at home with some easy remedies combined with a proper skincare routine. Read on to empower yourself with the essentials to find the armpits of your dreams!

  1. What causes dark underarms
  2. How to lighten dark underarms
  3. Home remedies for dark underarms
  4. Dark underarms creams
  5. Medical treatments for dark underarms

To treat any problem first we must understand how it originates and proliferates. Dark armpits can develop because of several different reasons like:

(Read more: Remedies to get rid of excessive sweating and body odour)

There are certain situations when dark armpits could be a manifestation of a more serious underlying disease or medical condition. Few of them are as follows:

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That is the million dollar question, isn’t it? Well if you genuinely want to evenly tone the underarms with the rest of your body, first you have to take care of certain habits. Some lifestyle modifications will help you go a long way on the journey to fairer underarms. Here is a list of some of them:

  • Stop shaving:  Shaving abrasions are one of the top causes of dark underarms, it is only legit that you stop shaving your underarm area. it does not mean for you to start growing underarms hairs by abstaining from shaving but rather switch to other modalities like waxing for hair removal. Some people may prefer laser therapy for hair removal. One perk of laser hair removal certainly is that it might help you in getting brightened skin tone.
  • Exfoliate: This one is also quite simple to follow. Regular exfoliation will remove the dead layer of skin and further help you in getting lighter armpits. Just use a gentle exfoliating cream and do not rub your skin too hard as it may lead to skin rashes and worsening of the problem.
  • Change your deodorant or antiperspirants: It is a well-known fact that deodorants and antiperspirants irritate the underarm skin, leading to hyperpigmentation and various other problems. Some of you might be helped simply by changing the brand of deodorant or antiperspirant that you normally use. You can surely give it a try in order to lighten the underarm skin.
  • Treat the underlying medical cause: Certain medical conditions like African Nigricans have dark armpits as one of their primary symptoms and effects and treating it should reverse the colour of your underarms. If you have dark armpits despite proper skin care and cleaning, it is best to check in with a doctor to rule out or treat the underlying condition.
  • Wear loose clothes: Body-hugging clothes create friction in your armpit area, which ultimately leads to rashes and inflammation, leading to darkening of the skin.
  • Give up smoking: Smoking is a major risk factor for many skin diseases including inflammation and acne. And your underarm skin is not resistant to these negative effects either. (Read more: Disadvantages of smoking and benefits of quitting smoking)

As they say, no place is better than home and when it comes to rest and recovery, it is doubly efficient. So no matter how much you crave for quicker and medically sophisticated options, better start with simple and effective home remedies. Numerous home based natural remedies have shown enormous potential to treat almost any problem you get exposed to. All you need to do is to apply a little bit of effort and the results can be astonishing. Here you will get all the home remedies that can help you in your war with underarm discolouration or darkening. Grab the knowledge and mix it with your efforts to make a successful strategy to fairer underarms. Let us begin with our first option, turmeric:

Turmeric for dark underarms

Most of the Indian curry recipes cannot be completed without a pinch of turmeric. Notwithstanding its culinary value, when it comes to the medicinal properties of turmeric, it stands tall and strong. Turmeric possesses several pharmacological properties and is widely used in ayurvedic system of medicine since times immemorial. Cucurmin is one such active ingredient responsible for a lot of its benefits. Researchers claim that turmeric contains anti-inflammatory (reduces swelling) properties along with anti-carcinogenic properties. Curcumin has the ability to kill the melanoma (skin cancer cells), reducing hyperpigmentation and discolouration.

To make use of turmeric in order to lighten underarms, follow these steps:

  • Take 2 teaspoons of turmeric powder or crushed raw turmeric
  • Mix the powder with a little bit of rose water, enough to make it a paste
  •  Apply this paste  on underarms
  • Leave it for 10 minutes to do its work
  • Wash underarms with lukewarm water

Lemon (vitamin C) for dark underarms

The practice of applying lemon juice for getting brighter and lighter skin is very common among the Indian masses. But have you ever thought, how lemon helps you in getting lighter armpits? Well, the reason behind lemon’s effectiveness for lighter skin is its ascorbic acid content. Ascorbic acid is also known as vitamin C. It is a potent antioxidant and a key agent in various metabolic processes.

Studies have shown a significant reduction in the discolouration of skin in patients suffering from melasma after application of vitamin C.

Whatever be the reason behind darkened underarms, ascorbic acid will probably help you appreciably in getting rid of this problem.

But the question remains how you can use vitamin C for dark armpits? Here are steps that ought to be followed:

  • Take half a lemon
  • Rub both of your armpits gently with lemon juice
  • Repeat this procedure every day without being harsh on your skin until you see notable changes

Tip: Depending on your skin type, lemon juice may sting you at first. It’s best not to use lemon juice if you experience excessive discomfort.

Aloe Vera for dark underarms

Aloe Vera is such a versatile plant that can be used to cure almost all types of skin problems. To be medically precise, aloe vera contains aloesin, a bioactive compound which inhibits the synthesis of melanin pigment (responsible for giving a dark colour to the skin). It also produces a soothing, calming effect on the skin, apart from other medicinal benefits. With regards to overall skincare, aloe vera has anti-inflammatory, antioxidative, immunomodulatory, moisturizing, antimicrobial, anti-aging, healing and photoprotective effects. Isn't it a versatile plant? Well, there are many more that can be added to list still.

So, now you know the drill. Start using this miraculous plant to extract all the benefits in order to get lighter armpits. Here is how you can use aloe vera for dark underarms:

  • Take 1 teaspoon of aloe vera gel, either commercially available or naturally extracted
  • Apply it on your underarms
  • Massage it for a few minutes until it gets completely absorbed
  • Repeat the application two times daily for best results

Soy for dark underarms

Recently, this ingredient is gaining popularity in the cosmetic industry. You might have even come across several beauty products containing soy extracts claiming to give brighter and glowing skin. Well, to some extent their claim is right and evidence-backed. Soy is derived from soybean, a legume, commonly grown in Indian subcontinent and soybean is, rich in several bioactive compounds, which help in reducing pigmentation, enhancing photoprotection, and anti-ageing processes. It also shows significant antioxidative properties, which only add more value to your skin rejuvenation.

Several studies have proven skin lightening effects of soybean extracts on the human body. To include the benefits of soy, you can increase its consumption. Other than this you can apply soy extracts on your underarms directly. Various moisturisers are available in the market with soy extracts. Apply them regularly for all the aforementioned beneficial effects.

Licorice roots for dark underarms

Licorice is a herb used for its various medicinal properties in traditional systems of medicine. It contains several compounds that possess pharmacological properties. However, for skin lightening purpose, glabridin and liquiritin play a vital role. Both these compounds help in reducing skin pigmentation but liquiritin strikes its effect directly on melanin pigment and causes its dispersion, thereby reducing the darker tone of the skin.

Licorice is commercially available in various forms like liquid extract, dried herbs, capsules or tablets. In order to get rid of dark underarms, you can make use of any form of liquorice by applying it in the concerned area. Be regular in practice if you want to see notable changes.

Baking soda for dark underarms

Use of baking soda or sodium bicarbonate for various skin problems has been in practice since a very long time. It is widely used for face and skin lightening as well as to reduce acne or acne scars. However, when it comes to the use and efficiency of baking soda to reduce skin discolouration, there is a strident lack of evident research. But the best part is you can safely use baking soda as one of the home remedies without expecting serious adverse effects. So give it a try and the following ways will tell you exactly how to:

  • Take 2 teaspoon of baking soda
  • Mix it with a little bit of water and make a paste
  • Apply the paste on both underarms
  • Leave it for 3 to 4 minutes
  • Rinse your armpits thoroughly with cold water
  • Repeat the application twice a week for good results

There are several other products available in the market being propped up as legitimate ways to reduce discolouration of the skin under the armpits. You can certainly try to make use of these commercial products in order to get rid of dark armpits. For the same, here are a few pivotal ingredients that may be helpful for you:

Hydroquinone cream for dark underarms

Hydroquinone is considered as the gold standard for hyperpigmentation treatment. It is a chemical compound, which works on the ground level to prevent melanin synthesis thereby helping you get rid of dark armpits. It is used in the concentration of 2 to 4% for topical application. Hydroquinone therapy is also extremely beneficial for post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation and melasma. This specific compound is available commercially as a single active ingredient as well as along with a combination of other compounds working on the very same problem like retinoids.

You can apply hydroquinone topically few times a day to get rid of dark armpits.

Retinoid cream for dark underarms

Retinoids are chemical compounds similar to vitamin A in structure as well as in function. They are an excellent alternative for the treatment of skin discolouration. Retinoids act on several levels to lighten your skin and also exert anti-inflammatory effects on the area of action. The latter is especially helpful in alleviating skin discolouration caused due to the friction of clothes or chemicals irritants. When you buy any ointment containing retinoids, see that it is in the concentration range of 0.01% to 0.1%. Retinoids are also available for oral administration. However, for getting rid of dark armpits, topical application of ointments is better and more effective.

Azelaic acid cream for dark underarms

Azelaic acid is a naturally occurring compound derived from microorganisms, to treat hyperpigmentation or discolouration. It works by killing and blocking the synthesis of cells producing melanin pigment. This specific compound is used in the concentration of 15 to 20% to treat the hyperpigmented state of your skin. If you want to reverse the dark colour to your normal skin tone, try using ointments containing azelaic acid as a main ingredient. Be regular in its usage to see a notable difference in the skin tone of your armpits.

Kojic acid cream for dark underarms

It is a chemical compound produced by a naturally occurring fungus. It acts at the molecular level by blocking the formation of pigment responsible for darker undertone, melanin. The commercially available concentration of kojic acid is usually  1 to 5%. You can use it as a single ingredient ointment or in combination with other compounds meant for the same function like hydroquinone. However, kojic acid may cause irritation to the skin in some people. Hence, it is important to do a patch test before using kojic acids for underarms. Do not opt for it if you do get some adverse reaction.

(Read more: Melanin deficiency causes, treatment)

Niacinamide cream for dark underarms

Niacinamide is a derivative of vitamin B3 or niacin. It acts in multiple ways in order to combat discolouration. Most efficient one of them is by inhibiting the formation of pigmented cells. Medically, Niacinamide is used in a concentration of 2 to 5%.

In an environment like armpits, continuously producing sweats, use of niacinamide could be a better and effective option as one great property of niacinamide is that it remains unaffected by acid, alkali, moisture, light or oxidisers.

Apart from the above home remedies and medicinal options, there are also numerous quick fixes to your armpit problem. They include:

Laser therapy for dark underarms

Home remedies are the best way to improve the skin tone of your underarms gradually and safely; however, if you are looking for a long term solution for discoloured and hyperpigmented skin, laser therapy could be a possible and plausible option for you. Although this treatment modality will be heavy on your pocket, it is definitely worth the time and money it demands. In the surgery, radiation is used to treat the discoloured skin at an interval of 4 weeks, followed by topical treatment by hydroquinone or other alternatives of the same functionality.

Few associated side effects of laser therapy are mild redness and swelling, which often resolve on their own after a while.

Chemical peeling for dark underarms

Chemical peeling involves the removal of the upper layer of dark and lifeless skin so that new skin cells can grow in its place. Various active chemical peeling agents are commercially available like glycolic acid (20 to 70%), salicylic acid (20 to 30%) and trichloroacetic acid (10 to 25%). These are chosen on the basis of the condition to be treated. Depending on the condition, you might either need a superficial or deep peeling.

Just like laser treatment, chemical peeling takes a few sittings to show effective results, generally 6 to 12 and is said to have lesser side effects than laser treatment. Though you may feel localised and temporary burning and irritation while undergoing the treatment. Moreover, chemical peeling is not suitable for people who suffer from skin allergies or have undergone radiation therapy for cancer. Needless to say, if you are pregnant, it is always best to talk to your doctor before taking any such treatment.


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