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Pimples on places they shouldn’t be? Symptoms, causes and treatment of pimples in the armpit

Pimples are bumps caused by a bacterial infection in clogged pores or sweat glands. They commonly occur on the face, but they may also appear on areas that are prone to sweating, like armpits, breasts and thighs.

Causes of pimples on the armpit

There are many reasons why pimples may form on the armpits. Some causes are relatively harmless, while others may require treatment.


Underarm skin is thin and delicate, so much so that friction can easily lead to irritation, infection and clogged pores. Some common causes of friction include tight clothing, the band on a bra or the straps of a purse or backpack.

Razor burn

Frequently shaving the armpit using a razor also generates friction and increases the risk of irritation. Shaving can also cause rashes, burns and ingrown hair, which can lead to skin infections such as boils and folliculitis.

Ingrown hair

Shaving, waxing and other forms of hair removal can cause ingrown hairs. An ingrown hair occurs when a hair follicle is bent or twisted back to penetrate the skin. Dead skin and bacteria from dull razors can also clog hair follicles, causing itchiness, soreness or inflammation.


Ingrown hairs can develop into folliculitis if left untreated. This condition is marked by red bumps that contain pus or blood. Pimples caused by infected hair follicles may also be accompanied by itchiness and tender skin.

Contact dermatitis

Contact dermatitis is a rash caused by an allergic reaction. It may cause red, bumpy skin, blisters and itchiness. Contact dermatitis is usually caused by a deodorant, soap or detergent containing ingredients the individual is allergic to.


Boils are deep, painful bumps caused by bacterial infections. If left untreated, a boil can become more tender and painful. However, a boil may go away on its own as long as it is not squeezed or popped, which can spread the infection.

Hidradenitis suppurativa

Hidradenitis suppurativa is a skin disease that causes small, tender lumps to form under the skin. It usually affects areas where the skin rubs together, such as the armpits, groin and buttocks.

Treating pimples

Underarm pimples aren’t unusual. In most cases, the pimple will most likely improve or heal itself within two weeks. Luckily, you can easily speed up this process by using the following home remedies.

  • Warm compress – The heat from a warm compress can open up pores, which may draw the pimple closer to the surface of the skin. The heat can also relieve pain and inflammation. To treat a pimple, soak a clean washcloth in hot water and hold it to the pimple for 10 minutes. Repeat thrice a day or until the pimple begins to release the pus. If necessary, drain the pus completely and wash the area with antibacterial soap. Apply some aloe vera gel to soothe the wound.
  • Green tea – Green tea contains an antioxidant known as epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) that has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. To treat underarm pimples, steep green tea in hot water and let it cool down. Afterward, dip a cotton ball into the solution and apply it to the affected area. Repeat thrice a day.
  • Aloe vera – Aloe vera contains salicylic acid, which has antibacterial properties. To reduce redness and swelling, apply aloe vera gel to the affected area. Leave it on for 10 minutes, then wash it off. Repeat twice a day.
  • Apple cider vinegar Apple cider vinegar can reduce inflammation and treat infections due to its antiviral and antibacterial properties. To treat underarm pimples, mix one part apple cider vinegar with two parts water. Dip a cotton ball into the solution and apply it to the affected area. Wash the area after three to five minutes. Repeat twice a day.

Although underarm pimples can be treated easily, you should still refrain from popping your pimple. Doing so may not only cause the infection to spread, but it may also allow bacteria to enter the wound.

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