It is possible to suddenly develop dark armpits without warning, and you may have questions about this sudden change in your body and why it has occurred. For example, is this a permanent condition? Is it a sign of a serious medical problem? How do I get rid of dark armpits?

According to an article in the Indian Dermatology Online Journal[1], this is a common issue that may affect anywhere from 7-74% of people depending on demographic factors. This condition can occur in men and women and is most prevalent in North Americans.

There are several possible causes, some of which indicate an underlying medical condition and others that are fairly benign. Read on if you want to learn how to get rid of dark underarms.

Why Do Dark Armpits Develop?

Rather than having one simple cause, several factors can lead to dark underarms at varying levels of seriousness. The issue often occurs because of improper shaving, which leads to skin irritation and the development of dark skin.

Some commercial deodorants have allergens that can similarly irritate the skin, and this is also true of other items like shaving cream. While some products irritate, not using exfoliants can also cause this condition by allowing the pores to get clogged. This can augment the hyperpigmentation process, leading to dark skin.

There are also medical causes of dark underarms, very commonly a skin pigmentation disorder called acanthosis nigricans[2] that can lead to thick skin with dark areas. This is a cause for concern because it may be a sign of an underlying condition like diabetes or hormonal imbalance.

Hormonal issues can lead to melasma, a skin pigmentation often caused by an excess of estrogen and progesterone. This is an issue that is most common during pregnancy. However, don’t discount that your dark underarms may be a side effect of a medication you’re taking, particularly if it’s insulin or something that affects the balance of hormones. If you switch pills, it may get rid of dark armpits.

10 Home Remedies For Dark Underarms

Dark Underarms
If you’re interested in learning how to lighten underarms that have become dark, many of the following natural remedies show success. You have to do them consistently over time to get the best results.

1. Potato

For a supreme dark underarms treatment, try the simple potato. It may not seem like much, but it contains an enzyme called catecholase which has skin lightening properties.

Cut a potato in half and rub the juice on your underarms for about 20 minutes every other day, and you should quickly see the area lighten.

2. Cucumber

Want to know how to lighten underarms? Consider the cucumber. High in Vitamin C, this vegetable can help block the production of melanin and lighten the skin.

Cut thick slices and rub them on your underarms for about 10 minutes. Do this a few times a week, and your dark underarms should rapidly transform.

3. Sugar and Olive Oil

These two ingredients mixed are a highly effective dark underarms treatment. Sugar is a wonderful exfoliant that gets rid of dead skin cells and unclogs pores. Olive oil is deeply moisturizing and can block skin pigmentation damage.

Mix 2 tablespoons of each and gently scrub your underarm area for about 5 minutes. Repeat once or twice a week to eliminate dark underarms.

4. Turmeric

One great method for how to lighten underarms is the spice turmeric. It contains a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory called curcumin. In addition to decreasing swelling and repairing skin damage, turmeric has lightening properties.

Make a mask-like paste with 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and turmeric. Apply to your underarms and leave on for 30 minutes before washing.

5. Milk Thistle

Milk thistle contains silymarin flavonoids that have anti-inflammatory properties. It can also block melanin production to lighten pigmentation.

To make a paste, mix 3 parts milk thistle with 1 part water. You may add something for thickening, like oatmeal. Spread it on your armpits. Leave on for 20-30 minutes before washing.

6. Lemon and Baking Soda

Lemon and Baking Soda
If you’re interested in knowing how to lighten underarms effectively, give lemon and baking soda a shot. This unique combination works well because while baking soda deeply exfoliates the skin, lemon juice is an antiseptic that has potent lightening benefits.

Mix a tablespoon of each into a light paste. Gently scrub your underarms for 5 minutes. After washing, apply a moisturizer. You can use this method a few times a week, and you should see results rapidly.

7. Aloe Vera

This is a natural antibacterial agent that can unclog the pores, and it’s also high in antioxidants that repair skin damage. In addition, it decreases inflamed skin. Buy an aloe vera cream and apply a layer to your underarms. Allow to dry for about 15 minutes, then wash it off. You can use this method every second day until the condition improves.

8. Apple Cider Vinegar

Several dermatological experts who know how to lighten underarms recommend apple cider vinegar for its ability to lighten, exfoliate deeply, and unclog the pores. Spread it on your armpits and leave it to dry, then wash it off well. You can do this every day until the problem resolves.

9. Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is how to get rid of dark underarms, with a capital H. It has antioxidants, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial properties, and it can naturally lighten the skin. Take some of the oil, warm it a little in your hands, and spread it over your skin. You can leave it on overnight and wash it off in the morning with warm water. Try this daily or every other day for a month and you should see benefits.

10. Tea Tree Oil

This is an essential oil derived from an evergreen tree, and it has antibacterial and antifungal properties that can cleanse pores and eliminate microbes. In addition, it contains antioxidants that repair skin damage and anti-inflammatory agents which reduce swelling. Tea tree oil also lightens skin by blocking the overproduction of melanin. On a daily basis, you can mix a few drops with a carrier oil like jojoba and spread it under your arms to dry naturally.

Therapeutic Treatment Options

Therapeutic Treatment Options
If you want to know how to get rid of dark underarms medically, there are a few treatment options. Some doctors may prescribe retinoids in the form of a pill or topical cream. It has properties that help lighten the skin.

There are also topic antibiotics that can clear up the redness and decrease irritation. Hydroquinone, kojic acid, and tretinoin are other creams that may get rid of dark armpits. Some doctors prescribe a Vitamin D cream called Calcipotriene (Dovonex) to lighten pigmentation.

In addition to medications, there is also the option of using laser therapy as a dark underarms treatment. It can make the skin thinner and possibly lighten it. Chemical peels are often helpful as they contain alpha and beta hydroxy acids. These exfoliate the skin and may remove some of the dark pigmentations.

There is a process called microdermabrasion which gently removes the outer layer of your skin, cleansing and renewing it. This can often help get rid of dark armpits. A review in Clinical, Cosmetic, and Investigational Dermatology[3] discussed current treatments for acanthosis nigricans[4].

Possible Risks

There are several risk factors to developing dark armpits, including some of the following:

  • A close family member who also has/had this issue
  • Obesity or overweight
  • Diabetes and insulin resistance
  • High shaving frequency
  • Dark skin
  • Cancer in the colon, liver, or stomach
  • Medical issues related to hormones
  • Certain medications
  • Skin with a lot of dead skin cells
  • Certain brands of deodorant

Factors To Steer Clear Of

Steer Clear
Prevention of dark underarms may not always be possible depending on the cause, but there are some preventative measures you can take. Here are some things to avoid:

  • Do not use shaving cream or moisturizer under your arms. They can clog the pores, and this may cause irritation that can lead to dark armpits.
  • Avoid deodorants that do not say hypoallergenic as many common brands contain allergens that can irritate.
  • Try to keep yourself from gaining any additional weight, as it will increase your chances of developing dark underarms.
  • Stop smoking cigarettes if you can, as they can cause the development of hyperpigmentation on the skin, including under the arms.
  • Avoid wearing tight clothing around this area, as it can cause friction on the skin and irritation, which is a potential cause of dark underarms.
  • Don’t skip your exfoliation as clogged pores can cause redness and irritation on the skin.


The majority of the time, dark armpits don’t indicate anything serious. However, there is a chance they could be caused by an underlying condition, so it’s always best to get checked by a doctor if you develop this issue. The main thing is, there are ways to get rid of dark armpits.

There are numerous possible causes of this problem, some serious and others not at all. Make an appointment with your doctor to hopefully rule out a medical condition, then consider other options like your deodorant or the way you shave. Once you know the issue, hopefully, you can find a method to get rid of dark armpits.

Yes, in fact, shaving improperly is one of the most common reasons that dark armpits develop. The irritation from scratching can cause your armpits to become inflamed, and the dark underarms are the result of this swelling and redness.

Yes, it certainly can. Certain brands of deodorant can irritate your skin, causing redness and inflammation which may turn into dark skin. If you develop this problem, stop using your deodorant for a couple of days to see if you can get rid of dark armpits.

An article in The Open Access Journal for Life and Environment Research[5] discussed the effect of using deodorant and antiperspirant habitually on the armpit microbiome.

The Bottom Line

The first concern most people have is often cosmetics when they notice their dark armpits. They can be the cause of discomfort and embarrassment for some. Many people don’t realize that there may be a medical cause to this problem, so it’s important to get an assessment before you consider how to get rid of dark underarms.

If you don’t want to seek out a medical dark underarms treatment or you’d rather try an organic method first, know that there are many natural remedies available. Some of these include lemon, turmeric, potato, apple cider vinegar, tea tree oil, and cucumber that have lightning, exfoliating, and moisturizing properties.

You may have to be patient, as it can take time and multiple treatments to get rid of dark armpits. However, you should find at least one method on our list that’s effective at removing the pigmentation and restoring your armpits to their former glory.