What Makes Your Armpits Dark (and How To Lighten ’em) According to Dermatologists – Slash and Scroll | Expert Advice for Busy People Like You

What Makes Your Armpits Dark (and How To Lighten ’em) According to Dermatologists

By Victoria Hardin

We all have unique and beautiful features that make us stand out from the rest, however some of us may also struggle with darker underarm areas. Dark armpits can be a source of embarrassment and insecurity for many, but the truth is that there are actually quite a few causes for why your armpits look darker than normal. The good news is, there are some easy tips and tricks that you can use to lighten your armpits.

Causes of dark armpits


Hyperpigmentation is a common cause of darker armpits, and it occurs when an excess amount of melanin (our skin’s natural pigment) is produced, thus resulting in darker patches, explains Tiffany Clay, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist in Atlanta. This can be caused by an array of factors such as genetics, hormones, and certain medications. It can also be attributed to certain lifestyle choices, like excessive sun exposure and even shaving too often, according to Dr. Clay.

Any injury or trauma to the skin from a rash or ingrown hair is going to produce more melanin leading to hyperpigmentation

Tiffany Clay, M.D

Skin condition

Another potential cause of dark armpits is a skin condition called acanthosis nigricans. “Acanthosis nigricans is the thickening and darkening of the skin that occurs most commonly around the folds of the skin on the neck,” says Dr. Clay. “It occurs more often in obese and diabetic [people] because they are likely to be in a state of insulin resistance, which increases skin thickness.”


In some cases, dark armpits can be caused by an infection. Fungal infections like ringworm and yeast infections can cause darkened skin in the armpits, as well as bacterial infections such as folliculitis, which is a bacterial infection of the hair follicles. “Underlying yeast infections may cause darkening of the skin, especially where skin touches the skin, for example, the groin and underarms,” says Rina Allawh, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist at Schweiger Dermatology Group in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania. “This is typically caused by a normal skin yeast that overgrows during the hot and humid climates.” To treat a yeast infection, Dr. Allawh suggests consulting your doctor to ensure you get the best treatment and proper diagnosis.

Allergic reactions

Allergic reactions can also cause darker armpits. Dr. Allawh explains that an allergic reaction to deodorants, body washes, and detergents can cause an inflammatory reaction. “Common culprits are fragrance and dyes in clothing that may cause a skin reaction,” she adds. This will lead to hyperpigmentation, which makes the skin appear darker and patchy. If you think your darker armpits may be caused by an allergic reaction, changing up your hygiene routine and switching to a fragrance-free or hypoallergenic product may help.

How to get rid of dark armpits

Red light therapy is your best friend

If you’re concerned about your darker armpits, there are a few ways that you can go about lightening them. Consider adding red light therapy to your skincare routine can help reduce the appearance of dark armpits. Red light therapy is an LED treatment that uses light of different wavelengths to penetrate the skin and stimulate collagen production, which helps to reduce hyperpigmentation.

The Vellgus Red Light Elite Therapy Device is an incredible way to experience the benefits of multiwave technology.
With its reliable performance and unbeatable convenience, this device is ideal for anyone looking to enjoy all the benefits of red light therapy.

Retinoids and adapalene

Dr. Allawh suggests using skin-care products that promote new cell turnover such as retinoids and adapalene. These products can help to lighten the hyperpigmentation and promote healthier skin cells.

Editor-favorite Retinol Products

Time Rewind Retinol System

Unlike pre-mixed skincare, the age-defying 0.25% Retinol is preserved in its most potent powder state until activated for significant clinical results. Clinically tested to use daily without irritation.

Skin Hero Bakuchiol + Calendula

No skincare product does it all, but this multi-talented serum comes pretty close. This serum is formulated with Bakuchiol to help reduce the look of fine lines and blemishes, and fade post-breakout marks. 

dynamic skin retinol serum

Gentle enough for nightly use, this serum features a 3.5% Retinoid Complex + Squalane to minimize the appearance of pores, smooth texture, even tone, and reverse the look of wrinkles.

1% Retinol Treatment

A potent and uniquely formulated retinol solution that hydrates and delivers remarkable anti-aging benefits with a controlled-release delivery system to allow for even, consistent absorption.

Super Antioxidant Concentrate Serum

A skin-renewing antioxidant serum with an effective but gentle amount of retinol that helps develop a balanced-looking complexion while helping defend against environmental stressors.

Retinol & Rainbow Algae

Gentle, slow-release Retinol, nutrient-rich Rainbow Algae and Tranexamic Acid work together overnight to help reduce the appearance of post-acne marks and target hyperpigmentation.


Add in a gentle exfoliating scrub and glycolic acid to your routine, as these can help to remove surface dead skin cells and brighten the area. If excessive shaving is the cause of your hyperpigmentation try switching to a less aggressive razor or laser hair removal.

Exfoliation Scrubs

exfoliating sugar scrub

Reveal smoother, brighter & more even-looking skin. This gentle sugar face scrub melts away excess oil, buildup & debris without stripping  skin.

Moon Rocks Body Scrub

Reveal a luminous glow with exfoliating sugar crystals, ground sea salt and blue tansy blend in the Moon Rocks Whipped Body Scrub by Truly.

Underarm Detox Scrub

This scrub makes it easier by helping to remove pore clogging products so your pits can get back to their natural sate.

Salt Exfoliating Body Balm

An exfoliating body balm for all skin types, designed to leave skin smooth and glowing. 

Chemical Exfoliation Treatments

pro-glycolic toner

This pH balancing & resurfacing treatment gel features a blend of probiotic extracts & glycolic acid to powerfully, yet gently exfoliate, helping your skincare absorb better & leaving skin looking smooth & even. 

Vita-C Glycolic Serum

Gold-stabilized vitamin C and glycolic acid serum for dramatically brighter, healthier-looking skin. Formulated without fragrance and artificial colors; ideal for all skin tones and skin types, from oily to dry.

Glycol Lactic Mask

The radiance-boosting formula is enriched with sea buckthorn oil and grape oil, delivering a surge of hydration to the skin. 

8% AHA Gel Exfoliant

Paula’s Choice
An exfoliating body balm for all skin types, designed to leave skin smooth and glowing. 

Exfoliation Tools

Organic Cotton Exfoliating Gloves

Gloves by Earth Therapeutics buff away layers of dead skin and stimulates blood circulation.

Energizing Dry Body Brush

Gently exfoliates with bristles to reveal soft, smooth, and glowing skin.

Laser Hair Removal

Hair Removal Handset

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Ice IPL Hair Removal Handset

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Look for lightening ingredients

Shop leave-in products that contain natural lightening ingredients like vitamin C or licorice extract. These ingredients can help to brighten dark spots and reduce the appearance of hyperpigmentation.

Vitamin C System

Unleash the scientist in you! Just mix the ingredients to create your serum in seconds. Push-and-twist, mix, and apply.

triple vitamin c serum

A potent brightening serum treatment with 10% triple Vitamin C complex. 

Vita-C Glycolic Serum

Gold-stabilized vitamin C and glycolic acid serum for dramatically brighter, healthier-looking skin.


AHAs brightening serum with pure ingredients and gentle strength that helps soften and smooth for more radiant, even-toned skin. 

Vitamin C Gel Cream

Instant glow with visibly brighter, firmer and plumper skin after 7 days. Award-winning Glow Daily Vitamin C Gel Cream is now vegan and packed using Infinity Recycling technology.

C15 Super Booster

This concentrated booster with 15% pure vitamin C dramatically brightens uneven skin while improving the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines.


Q: Does waxing help get rid of dark armpits?

A: Waxing does not help to lighten the area, but it can be beneficial in removing dead skin cells that contribute to the darkness. However, you should use caution when waxing dark armpits as it can be more painful and can increase the risk of skin irritation. It is best to talk to your dermatologist about the best course of action for your skin type.

Q: Does laser hair removal help get rid of dark armpits?

A: Laser hair removal is a great option for those who have darkened armpits due to excessive shaving. The laser targets the hair follicles and destroys them so that they no longer produce hair. It can also help to lighten the skin in the area and reduce inflammation and hyperpigmentation. However, it is important to talk to your dermatologist before undergoing laser hair removal to ensure that it is the right treatment for you.

Q: Is there a natural remedy for dark armpits?

A: There are many natural remedies that can be used to help reduce the appearance of dark armpits. Apple cider vinegar, lemon juice can be used as a natural exfoliant and lightening agent. It is important to remember that these treatments should be used in moderation and should be followed up with a moisturizer to avoid skin irritation.

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