Symptoms and causes of, and remedies for common underarm conditions
The armpits, or underarms, are located directly below the shoulder joint, where the side of the chest meets the joint. They are concave in shape and contain dozens of lymph nodes, as well as a number of hair follicles and sweat glands. The underarms are almost always covered by clothing and are often prone to physiological and/or emotional sweating. Both factors create a moist environment, providing a fertile territory for bacterial growth and the subsequent release of an often foul odor. This can often be a source of discomfort, especially for adolescents.
Certain areas of the skin, including the underarms, are dense with sweat glands. These parts of the body are more susceptible to excessive sweating and can produce bad odors. Sweat, itself, is odorless. However, when combined with bacterial overgrowth and the breakdown of proteins on the stratum corneum (the outermost layer of the epidermis) unpleasant odors can develop.
Excessive sweating, or hyperhidrosis, occurs when sweat glands overact, often as a result of stimuli such as high temperatures or from emotional stimuli, such as stress, fear or excitement.The latter are the most common causes of excessive sweating, which most frequently occurs on the forehead, hands, feet and underarms.
Seborrheic dermatitis is a skin rash that causes redness, itching and burning. Unlike in other areas of the body, seborrheic dermatitis on the underarms does not cause skin flaking.
Ingrown hairs are hairs that, instead of escaping from the skin’s surface, bend and become trapped under the stratum corneum during regrowth. The trapped hair continues to grow under the skin, often causing a small pustule and inflammation of the follicle, or in more serious cases, folliculitis.