If Your Armpits Are Feeling Sensitive (Ouch!), This Might Be the Culprit

You may be familiar with seasonal allergies, food allergies, and allergies to animals, but did you also know that it is possible to have an allergic reaction to your deodorant? “You can become sensitized to some of the ingredients found in deodorants and develop an allergic reaction called contact dermatitis,” explained Paul Yamauchi, MD, PhD, a dermatologist at the Dermatology Institute and Skin Care Center in Santa Monica, CA.

“Some of the ingredients that can cause that reaction are fragrance, propylene glycol (which is a solvent with moisturizing, antiseptic, and preservative properties), essential oils, and parabens (which are preservatives used for their antibacterial and antifungal properties),” said Yamauchi. Aluminum usually found in antiperspirants is also a common culprit, according to Payel Gupta, MD, an allergist at ENT and Allergy Associates in New York City.

It’s important to recognize that allergic reactions can come on suddenly due to a wide arrange of triggers, and that different sensitivities to ingredients may cause different symptoms, one of the most common being “a rash in what we call the ‘axillary vault,’ the area we rub deodorant on directly, that appears pink, swollen, crusty and itchy,” said Erum Ilyas, MD, a dermatologist at Montgomery Dermatology in King of Prussia, PA.

Once you consult a doctor, you’ll most likely be given “a cortisone-based cream, over-the counter or prescription,” said Yamauchi, to help relieve discomfort. You’ll also be advised to switch deodorants, but if contact dermatitis is still occurring even after you switch brands, you may need to visit a dermatologist or allergist for allergy testing to determine which ingredient is causing the problem.

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