Can a dermatologist help with dark underarms?

Dark underarm is a symptom of acanthosis nigricans. This skin disorder typically occurs in people with an underlying medical condition, such as diabetes or obesity.

What are the causes of dark underarms?

Understanding underarm darkness

Dark areas may occur when pigment cells in the skin around these areas multiply faster than usual. Regularly shaving of the underarms at times leads to the production of excess pigment cells. Acanthosis nigricans (AN) may cause skin thickening/darkening in other areas of the body, such as the groin and neck. AN affects between seven and seventy-four percent of people, with the prevalence varying according to age, race, and body weight. This factors can increase AN occurrence:

Insulin resistance

A majority of people living with the condition are insulin resistant. Being insulin resistant implies that the body has become less sensitive to the effects of insulin. Insulin resistance can lead to diabetes type 2.


People who are obese are likely to see dark skin in their underarms and other parts of their body.

Hormonal Disorders

Persons with an underactive thyroid, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), or other hormonal dysfunctions are more prone to have AN than others.


Acanthosis nigricans is said to run in families, which means that it has a genetic cause.


AN is most prevalent in Native Americans, then African-Americans, Caucasians, and Hispanics.

Use of medication

Some medications, like high-dose niacin, oral contraceptives, and corticosteroids, may cause acanthosis nigricans.


In rare instances, AN can occur due to a cancerous tumor growing either in the stomach, liver, or another internal organ. This kind of AN is called malignant AN.


This can make the armpits look dark too. Underarm hair is darker and coarser than hair elsewhere on your body. Stubble hairs can be visible under the epidermis, especially if there are ingrow. Waxing can help because it pulls hairs from the root, leaving no stubble.

Bacterial infection

A bacterium called erythrasma can produce dark brown patches in the underarms. It's caused by Corynebacterium minutissimum, which is typically on the skin of the armpits and groin. When your body chemistry changes (when you sweat, e.g., overgrowing of the bacteria, producing a localized infection. Your dermatologist can do a test by shining a Wood's lamp (an ultraviolet light) on the affected area; if you have the disease, the patches will glow a magenta color. This infection is generally treated using oral and topical antibiotics.No matter the cause, there are ways to minimize the discoloration, so don't give up.  However, some people dread dark underarms for cosmetic reasons and may try using these methods to treat :

Dark Underarms: Risk factors

Everyone is prone to developing AN in the underarms / other areas of the body. However, some people are more prone to getting this condition. Risk factors for dark underarms are as follows:

1. if a close family member has this condition
2. darker skin tone
3. obesity
4. diabetes or insulin resistance
5. plucking or shaving under the arms too often
6. if one has a hormone condition
7. taking certain medications
8. cancer of the stomach, colon or liver

AN treatment

Treatment generally involves managing the underlying cause of AN. Depending on the purpose, treatment options are:

If there is no defined cause for AN then treatment is not necessary.

Dark Underarms: What can a dermatologist do?

Dermatologist help cure skin diseases, and after a thorough examination the can prescribe the following treatments depending on the severity of your condition, any allergies you may have and your current health status(if you are pregnant or not)

Antibiotics and topical creams

Ointments, prescription creams, gels are available to lighten the under the arm skin. These products are:

Many dermatologists recommend antibiotics and topical creams and improve underarms appearance. However, it is good to note that manufacturers of these products did not make them for AN.

Orally taken medication

For AN that is severe / does not respond to topical treatments, retinoid pills are recommended. Retinoid pills also treat psoriasis, acne, and other skin ailments. Retinoid drugs can cause a few side effects and are not convenient for pregnant women. People thinking of taking these medications for AN should discuss the advantages and disadvantages of with their dermatologist before using them.

Laser therapy

Laser therapy can reduce skin thickness that often occurs alongside skin darkening. Reducing the width of the skin can make it look lighter in color. Laser therapy decreases hair growth and consequently cut down need to shave.

Prevention of dark underarms

It is not possible to prevent AN, but you can reduce the risk of developing dark underarms include:

Tips to get rid of dark underarms

People with cosmetic concerns an attempt to lighten the skin using several methods, including:

Some claim that natural remedies can lighten dark skin. There is little if any, scientific proof to support these claims. Some popular remedies for dark underarms include:

Citrus Extracts

Lemon juice and orange peels are natural bleaching agents. They have a lot of vitamin C, which plays a vital role in making the collagen fibers that help hold your skin and keep it firm. When applied topically, Vitamin C slows down hyperactive melanocytes. These are the cells that generate melanin in the underlying layers of the skin which causes tanning or skin darkening.


Fresh papaya contains enzymes like papain and alpha hydroxy acids that can dissolve dead cells and remove impurities leaving glowing skin. Honey has antibacterial properties that can guard the skin.

Mash the papaya pieces into a smooth and thick paste. Add honey and mix thoroughly. Put on the paste and let it sit for about 20 minutes. Wash your face with warm water. Rinse again with cold water and pat your skin dry. Do this every night before sleeping.

Caution: Papain can cause allergic reactions in some people. Do not apply this remedy if you are allergic to papaya and its products.

Pumpkin Mask

Pumpkin is loaded with antioxidants and exfoliating acids. It has beta-carotene and vitamins A and C, all of which help in lightening and brightening the skin.

For the pumpkin puree, peel and dice a pumpkin into several pieces. Boil them and blend. Mix two teaspoons of the puree with the honey and milk till you make a smooth paste. Apply this paste to your face and let it sit for about 20 minutes and rinse with warm water. You can use this mask before going to bed at night. It is recommended to use this two to three times a week.

Caution: If you have dairy-related allergies, substitute the milk with rose water or aloe vera juice. Some of these home remedies have side effects. Lemon juice, for instance, can dry out or irritate skin. It is helpful to talk to a doctor or dermatologist before applying any home remedies for dark underarms.AN is not generally root for concern.

However, persons with dark underarms should visit their doctor as skin darkening can indicate an underlying medical problem that needs attention. Treating the underlying ailment often resolves the signs and lightens the skin. If that doesn't work, or if an underlying condition is not causing AN, a doctor or dermatologist can recommend home remedies, medications, and therapies.

How to tighten skin?

To make our skin tighter, eat healthily, exfoliate your skin, limit UV exposure, and use

Scroll to Top