Anytime you make a change to the products that you put in or on your skin, there’s a potential for irritation or problems to occur. This remains true with natural deodorant. As you’ve undoubtedly used deodorants that contained artificial ingredients over the years, like aluminum, your body has slowly become accustomed to these elements over time. That’s why switching to a natural deodorant can, for some people, cause temporary irritation.
This period of time is called an adjustment or detox period and can last anywhere from just a few days to a couple of weeks. But don’t let the thought of a short-term adjustment period stop you from switching to natural deodorant! Taking the appropriate precautions — which can be as simple as opting for a baking soda free natural deodorant, or switching between scents — can help you mitigate or avoid any type of irritation altogether. And the rewards far outweigh the risks of continuing to use a big name brand deodorant or antiperspirant.
To gain a better understanding of how to avoid and get rid of an underarm detox rash from using a natural deodorant, we’ll look at what’s really happening, how to avoid it, how to fix it, and the products and techniques that can help you effectively get rid of the rash altogether.
Here’s What’s Really Happening with an Armpit Rash
When determining the best way to avoid or get rid of an armpit rash, it’s important to understand what’s really happening first. Some people experience small, tender, red bumps that appear in their underarms when they switch from a traditional deodorant or antiperspirant to an all-natural deodorant.
Other underarm rash symptoms can include:
- Skin peeling or flaking
But what’s causing this irritation? The reasons are different depending on whether you were previously using antiperspirant or a commercially made deodorant. For some people, it could be as basic as a detox period while switching to natural deodorant. For others, it could be your body’s way of telling you that you have a sensitivity to a particular ingredient (like too much baking soda!)
Most commercially made deodorants you’ll find at the store contain a variety of chemical ingredients that artificially keep your underarms odor free as you sweat. Your armpits may experience irritation when you switch to using a natural deodorant as they’re no longer subjected to chemicals like triclosan, silica, propylene glycol, and artificial fragrances and are finally able to breathe again.
Antiperspirants, on the other hand, contain aluminum salts that are intended to clog your pores and sweat glands as a way to reduce or prevent you from sweating. When you stop using antiperspirant and switch to natural deodorant, your underarms are able to sweat again.
When you stop using chemical deodorants and antiperspirants, the toxins and bacteria that have been building up under your skin for years are finally able to be released as you sweat. This detox process can sometimes result in a temporary armpit rash. Through our research and years of personal experience, we’ve found five main causes of underarm rash: contact dermatitis, irritant contact dermatitis, phototoxic contact dermatitis, heat rash, and intertrigo.
"Best deodorant I've ever used! It doesn't irritate my skin at all and lasts all day." - View original testimonial
The 5 Main Causes of Underarm Rash
1. Contact Dermatitis
Contact dermatitis occurs when an ingredient (or too much of an ingredient) in the deodorant causes the body to negatively react. In this case, you may have to change the formula you're using or find one that doesn't contain common ingredients that can irritate really sensitive skin, such as essential oils or too much baking soda.
2. Irritant Contact Dermatitis
Irritant contact dermatitis is when inflammation of the skin occurs due to a particular substance damaging the outer layer of skin or interrupting the skin's natural pH level. When you initially switch to a natural deodorant, the pH level of your underarms may need to rebalance. These changes of pH in such a sensitive area can lead or contribute to an armpit rash as well.
Think you may be sensitive to baking soda? While most people can use natural deodorants with baking soda without experiencing any irritation or inflammation, others may discover that they have a higher sensitivity to this ingredient. Baking soda is a very alkaline component with a high pH level. When you have sensitive skin and use a deodorant made with baking soda, a chemical reaction may occur between your slightly acidic skin and the very alkaline baking soda resulting in a red, irritated rash. We encourage anyone with a sensitive to baking soda to explore our baking soda free natural deodorant options. For many, switching between baking soda free and regular strength deodorants can solve the pH issues as well. Keep experimenting!
3. Phototoxic Contact Dermatitis
Phototoxic contact dermatitis occurs when people with fair, sensitive skin expose their underarms to too much sunlight. This is very similar to having a sunburn in your armpit.
4. Heat Rash
Heat rash, otherwise known as Miliaria or prickly heat, often occurs in hot and humid conditions. As your eccrine sweat glands go into overdrive by producing more sweat to help your body cool down, they can become clogged from dead skin cells or aluminum salts, resulting in painful inflammation.
Intertrigo happens when folds of skin have too much friction or bacterial build up. These irritants can activate bacterial and yeast infections that lead to a less than pleasant armpit rash.
How to Avoid an Armpit Rash
Here are a few different ways that you can avoid and prevent armpit rashes from happening.
Cut back on your shaving routine. Shaving is one practice that can actually exacerbate and inflame an armpit rash. By not shaving as frequently when you have underarm irritation, you can help mitigate any rash outbreaks. When you do shave, we recommend shaving at night and making sure that you’re using a clean, fresh blade as often as possible. After shaving, waiting to apply deodorant until your pores have closed slightly.
Keep up on your personal hygiene. We’ve also discovered that armpit rashes can present themselves as a result of too much bacteria residing in our armpits. By employing a thorough cleaning regimen and washing your underarms on a daily basis, you can significantly mitigate the outbreak of an armpit rash. In addition, make sure you’re wearing clothing that doesn’t have lint or other fabric particles on it as this material can rub off and get left behind in your armpits, leading to further irritation.
"My husband absolutely loves the deodorant! He was using The Woodsmen. I did warn him that he was probably going to go through a detoxing period because that’s what happens when switching from using a deodorant with chemicals to an all natural. He developed a very painful rash, so I contacted the company and explained what was happening. We followed all of their advice, and the rash wasn’t getting any better. They said that he may be having a reaction to the baking soda so they sent him a "baking soda free" deodorant... Problem solved! He loves the deodorant and how well it works. My husband went through deodorant like crazy, because he had to use so much of it for it to work. Now he barely uses 2 swipes and it lasts for much longer. - View original testimonial
Switch to a natural deodorant. If you were previously using an antiperspirant, you were likely subjecting your underarms to years of chemical ingredients like aluminum, triclosan, silica, propylene glycol, and artificial fragrances on a daily basis. By using a natural deodorant, you’re allowing your body to naturally rid itself of this toxic buildup as you sweat. Baking soda, an ingredient commonly found in natural deodorant, can actually help draw out these toxins and bacteria from your underarms, speed up the detox process, and even deodorize as well. While this is a healthy process for your body to undergo, the initial chemical detox mixed with increased sweating may result in a temporary underarm rash. To buffer this and help your body transition to natural deodorant faster and easier, try using an all-natural deodorant that contains less toxic ingredients (perhaps even a baking soda free version!) for a few weeks before you jump into a completely all-natural deodorant. Alternatively, you could try detoxing your body with a detox diet, detox baths, or some other type of cleanse.
Use a baking soda free natural deodorant. Baking soda is often added to natural deodorants as a means of absorbing and neutralizing body odor. As previously mentioned, baking soda’s high pH level can sometimes irritate the skin, especially the delicate skin in your underarms. Rotating between various scents (like Lavender, All Shield, Woodsman, etc) can help change up the affect the baking soda has on bacteria. Or rotating between baking soda free and regular strength deodorants. To prevent this altogether, opt for a baking soda free natural deodorant option and simply apply more regularly.
How to Treat and Get Rid of an Armpit Rash
If you’ve made the switch to natural deodorant and have noticed a rash in your underarms, you’ll want to determine what exactly is causing the irritation. Factors like switching from an antiperspirant, baking soda in natural deodorant, your environment, and even your personal hygiene can all factor in here. Depending on the root cause, you’ll need to take the appropriate actions to get your underarms looking their best and feeling fresh!
Here are some of the ways to treat various causes of armpit rash:
- Contact dermatitis: In this case, you’ll want to switch deodorants by opting for a different scent or strength. Identify what could be causing the irritation and find a natural deodorant or new scent that doesn’t contain these ingredients.
- Irritant contact dermatitis: If your natural deodorant contains baking soda, try a baking soda free formulation. We’ve expanded our line of natural deodorants to include baking soda free options for this very reason.
- Phototoxic contact dermatitis: Keep your armpits away from direct sunlight and treat them similar to how you would a sunburn. Go easy on the deodorant until the area has time to recover from the rash.
- Heat rash: Try to avoid overly hot situations (such as steam rooms and saunas) and steer clear from hot, humid environments. Once the rash clears up and you become accustomed to using a natural deodorant, your underarms will be able to handle the heat again.
- Intertrigo: Take extra precautions and effort to keep your underarms clean on a regular basis. You may need to increase the frequency of washing to twice a day or change the soap that you’re using. For extremely sensitive skin, our Oatmeal & Honey or Unscented Goat Milk Soap scents are the best options to help you wash, cleanse, and hydrate this delicate skin. In some extreme cases, you may need antibacterial or antifungal creams to reduce this type of rash as prescribed by a doctor.
If you’re looking for an easy way to help speed up the adjustment period you experience when switching to a natural deodorant, try an armpit detox. It's a simple and easy way to help rid your underarms of the toxins that they've been exposed to when using chemical-filled deodorants. An armpit detox can also make switching to natural deodorant a much easier transition. Many people who’ve tried this detox reported that their underarms had less odor even when they didn’t apply deodorant afterward. For some, trying the underarm detox before making the full switch to natural deodorant helped them avoid an underarm rash and irritation altogether.
Back to You
As you take steps to improve your health, removing unnatural products from your skincare and hygiene routine is an essential step. While this process can bring on some pitfalls, it’s important to remember that they’re only temporary as your body adjusts. By understanding what the potential pitfalls of switching to natural deodorant are before you take the plunge, you just might be able to reduce or prevent them altogether.
More Posts to Enjoy
- Blog Post: The Beauty Trend That’s Here to Stay: Natural Deodorant
- Blog Post: The Dangers of Aluminum in Your Deodorant
- Blog Post: What You Need to Know About Natural Deodorant for Sensitive Skin
- Blog Post: How to Detox Your Armpits and Prepare for Natural Deodorant
- Blog Post: Natural Deodorant That Really Works