Symptoms A-Z

Armpit Itch Symptoms, Causes & Common Questions

Understand your armpit itch symptoms, including 5 causes & common questions.

An image depicting a person suffering from armpit itch symptoms

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Contents

  1. Symptoms
  2. Causes
  3. 5 Possible Armpit Itch Conditions
  4. Treatments and Relief
  5. Questions Your Doctor May Ask
  6. Statistics
  7. References

Armpit Itch Symptoms

Odor is not the only issue of the armpit. When you just cannot stop scratching under the arm, you have armpit itch. The condition can be both uncomfortable and awkward to deal with. We combat the armpit's propensity for perspiration with deodorant and antiperspirant and the area is often shaved to eliminate hair [6].

Armpit itch may result from a variety of factors and presents itself with the following symptoms:

The armpits are in a tricky spot. Nestled between the arm, shoulder, and chest, they are more of a location than a body part. The sweat gland for the underarm is located in the armpit causing the production of the majority of our body odor and also perspiration [7]. A large number of nerves are located in the armpit making it sensitive and sometimes ticklish. The combination of its warmth and dampness and the frequent presence of body hair makes them a prime candidate for itching. Under many circumstances, armpit itch symptoms are a product of the environment, but other causes are more significant and warrant different treatments.

Armpit Itch Causes

Sometimes, even the best intentions can lead to unanticipated consequences. The way we treat our armpits can often lead a variety of symptoms, including armpit itch. Other times, however, there is more to the problem than basic bodily functions and reactions. In those cases, it is important to analyze the armpit itch symptoms to best determine the cause.

Environmental causes:

  • Trauma: Irritation to the armpit can lead to itchiness. Improper shaving or ill-fitting bras can cause such irritation.
  • Hot/Cold: The skin reacts to prolonged exposure to either hot or cold dry air. Armpit itch symptoms can be the manifestation of this reaction,
  • Allergies: Certain substances can cause a skin reaction that results in armpit itch. Laundry detergents, deodorants, or clothing materials are all known to cause itchiness [1].
  • Parasitic: Parasites are tiny organisms that live and feed on the body. Scabies [2] and lice are common parasites known the effect the armpit and cause itchiness.

Inflammatory causes:

  • Infection: While bacteria are normally found on the body, sometimes harmful bacteria can penetrate the skin and cause infection, inflammation, and itchiness. Armpit itch can result from a variety of bacteria including yeast, MRSA [3], and other fungi.
  • Autoimmune: Disorders resulting from the body attacking itself are considered autoimmune. Psoriasis is an example of an autoimmune disorder that causes armpit itch symptoms [4].

Systemic disease causes:

  • Metabolic: The body is accustomed to operating in a specific way. When daily processes are disrupted by conditions like axillary lymphadenopathy [5], armpit itch can occur.

5 Possible Armpit Itch Conditions

The list below shows results from the use of our quiz by Buoy users who experienced armpit itch. This list does not constitute medical advice and may not accurately represent what you have.

Allergic contact dermatitis of the armpit

Allergic contact dermatitis is a condition in which the skin becomes irritated and inflamed following physical contact with an allergen. Common products known to cause allergic dermatitis include plants, metals, soap, fragrance, and cosmetics.

Rarity: Common

Top Symptoms: armpit redness, armpit itch, scabbed armpit bump

Symptoms that always occur with allergic contact dermatitis of the armpit: armpit redness

Urgency: Self-treatment

Scabies

Scabies is a rash caused by the microscopic human itch mite. It burrows into the top layer of skin to feed and causes severe itching and irritation.

The mite spreads through direct contact or through infested bedding or furniture. It can infect anyone, though most susceptible are:

  • Children.
  • Sexually active young adults.
  • Anyone with a weakened immune system.
  • Patients in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.

Symptoms include intense itching, especially at night, and a rash of tiny red bumps. Scratching may cause the rash to form sores, scales, or crusts. The rash most often forms between the fingers, in the folds of the wrists and elbows, and any place normally covered by clothing.

It is important to get treatment because the scratching can cause an infection in the skin. In children, mites can cover nearly the entire body.

Diagnosis is made through physical examination and skin test.

Treatment involves a prescription for skin cream. Everyone who has come into contact with the affected person must be treated, even if they show no symptoms.

Rarity: Rare

Top Symptoms: vaginal itch or burning, vulvovaginal redness, feeling itchy or tingling all over, butt itch, elbow itch

Urgency: Primary care doctor

Armpit Itch Symptom Checker

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Folliculitis

Folliculitis is a common skin problem where hair follicles are infected by bacteria or fungi.

Rarity: Common

Top Symptoms: small facial lump, pink or red facial bump, face itch, facial bump leaking yellow/milky fluid, yellow or white facial bump

Symptoms that always occur with folliculitis: small facial lump

Urgency: Self-treatment

Cellulitis

Cellulitis is a bacterial infection of the deep layers of the skin. It can appear anywhere on the body but is most common on the feet, lower legs, and face.

The condition can develop if Staphylococcus bacteria enter broken skin through a cut, scrape, or existing skin infection such as impetigo or eczema.

Most susceptible are those with a weakened immune system, as from corticosteroids or chemotherapy, or with impaired circulation from diabetes or any vascular disease.

Symptoms arise somewhat gradually and include sore, reddened skin.

If not treated, the infection can become severe, form pus, and destroy the tissue around it. In rare cases, the infection can cause blood poisoning or meningitis.

Symptom of severe pain, fever, cold sweats, and fast heartbeat should be seen immediately by a medical provider.

Diagnosis is made through physical examination.

Treatment consists of antibiotics, keeping the wound clean, and sometimes surgery to remove any dead tissue. Cellulitis often recurs, so it is important to treat any underlying conditions and improve the immune system with rest and good nutrition.

Rarity: Uncommon

Top Symptoms: fever, chills, facial redness, swollen face, face pain

Symptoms that always occur with cellulitis: facial redness, area of skin redness

Urgency: Primary care doctor

Psoriasis

Psoriasis causes an overgrowth of surface skin cells, creating a red, scaly, itchy, and painful rash.

It is believed to be an autoimmune disorder that causes the body to attack its own healthy skin cells. It may be genetic in origin but triggered by anything that further strains the immune system, such as infections, skin injury, alcohol consumption, obesity, smoking, and stress.

Symptoms may come and go in cycles lasting weeks or months. They include red patches of thickened skin, sometimes with gray-white scales; dry, cracked, bleeding skin; stiff and swollen joints; and thickened, misshapen nails.

It is important to see a medical provider for care, because psoriasis can interfere with quality of life. It is associated with higher risk of arthritis, heart disease, diabetes, and other conditions.

Treatment involves different combinations of topical medications, oral medications, and phototherapy with natural or artificial light. Lifestyle changes such as improved diet, quitting smoking, and managing stress are very helpful in many cases.

Rarity: Uncommon

Top Symptoms: itchy rash, red or pink, rough patch of skin, rash with well-defined border, painful rash, scaly rash

Symptoms that never occur with psoriasis: fever, black-colored skin changes, brown-colored skin changes, blue-colored skin changes

Urgency: Primary care doctor

Armpit Itch Treatments and Relief

Usually, being only itchy does not raise any alarms, but that does not mean that it should not be treated. Given the wide range of potential causes of armpit itch, taking the condition seriously will help dictate the best course of action to relieve the symptoms. Switching deodorants may be all that is required, or the diagnosis and advice of a medical professional could be necessary.

Contact your doctor if the following accompany armpit itch:

With such a wide range of armpit itch symptoms and causes, self-diagnosis may be a challenge and providing adequate treatment could be equally as challenging. That being said, the most common causes of armpit itch symptoms are treatable at home. It is time to call your doctor though when basic treatments do not work or do not seem appropriate.

At-home treatments:

  • Warm Water Compression: Applying a compress soaked with warm water can help speed recovery from boils.
  • Moisturizer: Repeated applications of lotion to the affect areas can help limit armpit itch symptoms caused by dryness.
  • Hygiene: Ironically, bathing less can sometimes be the cure. Frequent bathing can dry the skin or repeatedly introduce irritants to the skin. Avoiding certain deodorants or soaps may also help. Changing clothes frequently and washing them at high temperatures will help eliminate parasites [8].
  • Over-the-Counter Medications: Creams or ointments designed to treat fungal infections are available for use [9].

Professional treatments:

  • Prescription Medications: Oral antifungal medications or antibiotics may be necessary for more significant causes of armpit itch such as MRSA. Medication also exists to kill parasites.

At a minimum, armpit itch is an annoying nuisance. At worst, it is a sign of a far more serious condition requiring advanced medical treatment. Treating your body right and continued good hygiene practices are often positive steps towards relieving the itch, but, it is always important to remember that advanced cases of armpit itch symptoms require input from a medical professional [10].

Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Armpit Itch

To diagnose this condition, your doctor would likely ask the following questions:

  • Are you itchy all over?
  • Are you sexually active?
  • Catheterization is the insertion of a tube into the urethra to drain urine from the bladder. Have you recently been catheterized?
  • Do you have a rash?

The above questions are also covered by our A.I. Health Assistant.

If you've answered yes to one or more of these questions

Take a quiz to find out what might be causing your armpit itch

Armpit Itch Symptom Checker Statistics

People who have experienced armpit itch have also experienced:

  • 16% Skin Changes On Armpit
  • 11% Armpit Lump
  • 10% Armpit Pain

People who have experienced armpit itch were most often matched with:

  • 66% Scabies
  • 16% Allergic Contact Dermatitis Of The Armpit
  • 16% Folliculitis

People who have experienced armpit itch had symptoms persist for:

  • 33% Over a month
  • 21% Less than a week
  • 16% Less than a day

Source: Aggregated and anonymized results from visits to the Buoy AI health assistant (check it out by clicking on “Take Quiz”).

Armpit Itch Symptom Checker

Take a quiz to find out what might be causing your armpit itch

References

  1. More D. Deodorant and Antiperspirant Allergy. Verywell Health. Published June 15, 2018. Verywell Health Link.
  2. Scabies. American Academy of Dermatology Association. AAD Link.
  3. Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Published June 6, 2018. CDC Link.
  4. Psoriasis. National Library of Medicine: MedLinePlus. Published October 5, 2017. MedLinePlus Link.
  5. Ferrer R. Lymphadenopathy: Differential Diagnosis and Evaluation. American Family Physician. 1998;58(6):1313-1320. American Family Physican Link.
  6. Migala J. Are Your Armpits Itching Like Crazy? Here's Why. Women'sHealth. Published January 19, 2018. Women'sHealth Link.
  7. Body Odor. Wikipedia. Wikipedia Link.
  8. Stopping the Spread of Germs and Parasites. Australian Goverment Department of Health. Published November 2010. Department of Health Link.
  9. Terrie YC. Comabting Fungal Skin Infections. Pharmacy Times. Published May 24, 2012. Pharmacy Times Link.
  10. Itchy Armpits. New Health Guide. New Health Guide Link.

Disclaimer: The article does not replace an evaluation by a physician. Information on this page is provided as an information resource only, and is not to be used or relied on for any diagnostic or treatment purposes.