LBH, you prob don’t show your underarms much love — other than a daily dose of deodorant, that is. But when tank top season rolls around, it is suddenly time to pay a little more attention to that delicate area. Sigh. If you’ve noticed dark spots or discoloring under there, don’t panic. A little prep work will help get you pit, er, fit for throwing your hands in the air like you just don’t care this summer. We spoke to Lavanya Krishnan, a dermatologist in San Francisco, to show us the way.
Brit + Co: Why does it seem like there is discoloration in our pits?
Lavanya Krishnan: If you notice discoloration or dark spots, your deodorant may be to blame. Antiperspirants and deodorants containing aluminum are meant to temporarily shut your pores and decrease sweating. For some people, their unique sweat composition causes the aluminum to be excreted from the pore, resulting in a discoloration that can be seen within their armpits or on their clothing.
B + C: What if dark spots pop up and I’m itchy under there?
LK: Someone with sensitive skin may also occasionally develop an irritation or allergy from their antiperspirant or deodorant. In these cases, the armpits may have an itchy rash that ultimately heals with a dark discoloration in the armpits.
B+C: Yipes, so what can be done?
LK: I recommend switching to a hypoallergenic version of antiperspirant or deodorant like Vanicream or Tom’s of Maine, as well as applying the combination of a lightening cream and sunscreen for the discoloration. Switching to an aluminum-free version is your best bet. Try Soft and Dri or Arm and Hammer.
B +C: What about shaving, is that also leading to dark spots on my underarms?
Shaving, waxing, or tweezing can sometimes cause ingrown hairs and irritation to crop up, ultimately leading to dark spots.
B+C: What are some options for getting rid of dark spots in time for summer, i.e., tank top season?
LK: Try using Nair or another topical hair remover to reduce your need to shave or wax in your armpit area. I also commonly recommend body washes containing active ingredients such as Benzoyl Peroxide and Salicylic Acid, which can help reduce the frequency of ingrown hairs, as well as any irritation around the hair follicles.
B+C: Do I need to see a dermatologist for this, or can I treat dark spots at home?
LK: For more severe dark coloring, I recommend seeing a dermatologist to discuss prescription topical and oral medications options. Laser hair removal can be done safely and effectively at dermatology offices or reputable medical spas. Electrolysis is another option.
B+C: How can you prevent future dark spots on your underarms from popping up?
LK: Oftentimes using the proper products or undergoing the right procedures is the best way to prevent future darkening in this area. In general, use of sunscreen can prevent any potential UV rays from hitting this area and causing further darkening. This is especially true if you are wearing short sleeves that can expose this area to the sun.
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(Photo via Getty)