10 Major Causes Of Dark Underarms

Have you stopped yourself from buying a sleeveless dress you like because it’d expose your dark underarms? If yes, you are not in this alone. Having dark underarms is not a disease or a medical condition.

Dark underarms have been an embarrassing problem, both for men and women alike. But do you know the reasons why there can be a discoloration in the armpit area?


Here are some reasons that may answer the question “Why do I have dark underarms?”

1. Shaving

If your armpit hair is darker than the color of your skin, then shaving can cause dark underarms. Shaving only cuts the hair off at the surface of your skin. This darkness is due to the hair follicles that are just below the surface of your skin. Shaving may also cause itching if a sharp razor is not used. Shaving too much will lead to skin hardening and skin darkening because of the irritation and abrasions caused.


Waxing unwanted hair is a better alternative to switch to if you think shaving is causing your underarms to look dark. Waxing gets rid off the hair right from the roots, making the darkness less visible.1

2. Deodorants And Antiperspirants

Deodorants and antiperspirants sure does protect the body from bad odor. But, these also contain chemicals that may be harmful for the skin causing it to be dark.


Using mild deodorants or following natural remedies may help fight body odor. The best and commonly used natural remedy is applying baking soda to your underarms. This will avoid the exposure to harsh chemicals found in deodorants.2

3. Accumulation Of Dead Skin Cells

Dead cells are formed all over our body and accumulates on the surface of our skin. The underarms are no exception to this. Accumulation of dead skin cells around the underarms may be another reason for darkness in the area.


Exfoliating the underarms is a good practice to avoid the accumulation of the dead skin cells.

4. Hyperpigmentation

Hyperpigmentation is a common, often harmless, condition where certain spots on the skin appear darker than the surrounding skin. This is due to the excess melanin – the pigment that gives color to the skin – that forms deposits on the skin.


If you feel that the darkening of your underarms is due to hyperpigmentation, then it is best to consult a dermatologist and follow the prescribed medication if any.

5. Friction Caused By Tight Clothes

Underarms are sensitive areas and wearing tight clothing can cause friction between the cloth and your skin. This can cause discoloration.


It is always better to wear clothes that are not tight near sensitive areas. Wearing loose clothes, especially after underarms are waxed, is advised.

6. Acanthosis Nigricans

Acanthosis nigricans is the medical term for darkened, thickened patches of skin that usually develop in the armpit and around the groin and neck. You’ll have thickened, brownish-grey or black patches of skin. These patches may occur anywhere, but are usually seen around the neck, in the armpit, around the groin, and sometimes in other skin folds. This medical condition is usually a sign of obesity, diabetes, or abnormal hormone levels.


Always consult a doctor to know what steps you can take to treat this condition. With proper guidance, this discoloration may be controlled.

7. Bacterial Infection

Our underarms are a perfect home for bacteria to dwell in. Excessive sweating can be the cause of bacteria being trapped in the skin in the underarms. The bacterium Corynebacterium minutissimum causes excessive sweating and the least serious problem is body odor. However, this can also cause a chronic infection in the deeper layers of the skin called erythrasma.

A visit to the doctor will help you if you think bacteria is causing darkness in your underarms.

8. Smoker’s Melanosis

Smoker’s Melanosis is a condition that results from tobacco smoking. In this case, hyperpigmentation is caused by smoking. The underarms will have dark patches as long as smoking continues.

Smoker’s Melanosis can be treated first by quitting the habit of smoking. Not only will it help in reducing the darkness in your underarms, you will be quitting a bad habit that harms other parts of the body, too.

9. Melasma

Melasma is a common skin problem. It is usually seen as dark patches on the skin. It appears mostly on those parts of the body that are exposed to the sun. Women are more likely to get melasma than men. This is also common during pregnancy because the hormones during this period seem to trigger melasma in women.

The most common treatment is applying sun protection on the skin at regular intervals. If it does not seem to fade, visit a doctor and follow the steps to recover from this skin problem.3

10. Addison’s Disease

Addison’s disease is caused when the adrenal gland is damaged. One of the symptoms of this is disease is darkening of the skin or hyperpigmentation.

Other symptoms of this disease include extreme fatigue, weight loss and decreased appetite, low blood pressure (even fainting), salt craving, low blood sugar (hypoglycemia), nausea, diarrhea, or vomiting, abdominal pain, muscle or joint pains, irritability, depression, body hair loss, or sexual dysfunction in women.

It can affect people of any age, although it’s most common between the ages of 30 and 50. It’s also more common in women than men.4

If you experience any of these symptoms, it is important to visit the doctor and follow the steps to treat Addison’s disease.

Now that you know the reasons for your dark underarms, there is one important bit that has to be taken care of at all times.

Always make sure that you keep your body clean. It is important to shower at least once a day and stay hygienic.