Over the years I have had many people ask me why their natural deodorant causes odd (and painful) side effects, like rashes and zits in the underarm area. And if you’ve ever had armpit pimples or cysts, you probably know how painful these breakouts can be.
These pesky little bumps are small and clustered, however in some cases they are quite noticeable and painful, and are normally either caused by an infection, or irritation due to shaving and – yes – deodorant or antiperspirant use.
WHAT CAUSES ARMPIT ZITS
Aside from underlying medical conditions, breakouts in general are often formed as a result of bacteria build up from your pores, or clogged sweat glands. Armpit pimples are no different.
So the first thing you want to ask yourself is “what products am I using in that area that are clogging my sweat glands?” If you haven’t guessed already, YES it can be the aluminum that’s found in your antiperspirant.
Aluminum in antiperspirants and non-natural deodorants is used as a shield against sweat. But in doing so, it forms a barrier to block any sweat from breaking through. This clogs your pores, and can irritate the underarm area, which can lead to unwanted zits.
So if you are using antiperspirants, that is the first thing you want to rule out.
HOW NATURAL DEODORANTS COME INTO PLAY
Many natural deodorants on the market are formulated with coconut oil, baking soda, and high levels of fragrances. While that all may sound great, the reality is that these ingredients can be quite irritating – especially if you have sensitive skin.
COCONUT OIL- BASED DEODORANTS NOURISHING, BUT COMEDOGENIC
If you have armpit zits and are using natural deodorant, coconut oil is something you want to stay away from if you are prone to breakouts, or if you have sensitive skin. According to New York based board-certified dermatologist Melissa Levin, coconut oil has the ability to block the opening of hair follicles. So the same idea applies here. Blocked pores means bacteria build-up, which causes pimples; and if they become infected, possibly even armpit cysts.
BAKING SODA – THE NATURAL IRRITANT
What many people don’t know is that while there are benefits to using baking soda, it is EXTREMELY irritating for your skin. Applying baking soda to your underarms can inflame the hair follicles, which can lead to both armpit cysts and pimples (not to mention painful rashes. Trust me…just ask my husband).
All deodorants will have fragrance, so don’t worry, I’m not going to tell you to go ‘fragrance-free’. BUT, the amount of fragrance is what can make a difference. Deodorants (both natural and non-natural) with high levels of fragrance can irritate your skin, and lead to breakouts. So always read the label, and ensure that your product is “lightly” scented (you usually can tell if the fragrance is listed last on the label).
PREVENT FUTURE BREAKOUTS
The good news is, finding a solution is easy. First, toss out your antiperspirant. Then, look for a natural deodorant that avoids any irritating ingredients. We chose an alternative to baking soda- activated charcoal, as it is a non-irritant that tends to pull toxins from your skin while unclogging your pores.
Finally, practice good shaving protocols to help from adding any irritation to the area. Congested pores is actually a common cause of ingrown hairs, which quite often leads to little armpit bumps (not serious, but definitely not comfortable). Also, if you apply your natural deodorant right after shaving, you are applying product to broken skin, which leads to more irritation and breakouts. So, some tips I have for you are:
- Use a gentle exfoliator to decongest pores
- Apply a warm wash cloth to your skin after shaving
- Use a fresh blade not a dull blade
- Shave at night, and apply your deodorant in the morning
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