More often than not as consumers, we may know how to care for our face –– we know if our skin is thin, is sensitive, is dry, normal, or oily. Yet, we know nothing about our underarms and don’t care much for it. The neglect results in all sorts of problems –– darkening, excessive sweating, and odour etc.
Here, we share about anatomy and behaviour of the underarm skin, and how it should be cared for on a daily basis, and how stubborn problems like darkening and excessive sweating could be treated.
How different is that as compared to our underarm skin? How is the underarm’s skin structured –– are there more sweat and oil glands, are the hair follicles bigger and thicker etc.?
Underarms are known as axilla and they are not exposed to sunlight, external factors or get a lot of use so the skin is actually tougher. Underarms are home to lots nerves and more than 20 lymph nodes so it is more sensitive and some people are more ticklish. As the skin on the underarm also rubs on skin and go for periods of time without light and air makes it even more sensitive.
The underarm skin is also often exposed to harsh shaving or the chemicals in hair removal products and some deodorants and anti-perspirants. The underarm has a high concentration of sweat glands known as Apocrine sweat glands and hair follicles. Aprocine sweat glands produce sweat that is high in protein which attracts bacteria to grow. As the bacteria metabolise, they produce strong-smelling odor.
The pH of the skin in the underarm is pH 6.5. This significant reduction in acidity makes it even more susceptible to the growth of bacteria. Eccrine sweat glands cover most of the surface of your body, and its main purpose is to serve as a thermoregulatory function via evaporative heat loss to cool down the body when required. The hair is thinner and finer. The pH of most of the skin on the body is around 5.5. This form a naturally acidic layer, known as the acid mantle, which helps to protect the body against bacteria.
How Should We Care About Our Underarms?
• You can use facial products which are gentle for underarms skincare routine.
• Gently cleanse your underarms daily with a mild soap or slightly acidic cleanser to minimise the growth of bacteria.
• Exfoliate with a gentle exfoliant once a week to help stimulate cell renewal and unclog pores.
• After cleansing, thoroughly dry your armpits
• Wear light breathable fabrics such as cotton, linen, bamboo to allow sweat to evaporate.
Why is the Underarm Skin Darker Than the Rest of Our Arms and Chest?
Dark areas of skin may occur when pigment cells in the skin multiply faster than usual. When you shave regularly, this action irritates the skin and can lead to excessive production of pigment cells.
Certain medical conditions eg Acanthosis nigricans (AN) may also cause thickening of the skin or darkening in the underarms and other areas of the body, such as the neck and groin.
Some other causes may be due to genetics, darker skin, being obese, have diabetes or insulin resistance, hormone condition or medication
What Are Some Recommended Treatments to Treat Darkening of Underarms?
• Prescription lightening creams, ointments and gels
• Retinoid creams to lighten the skin
• Hydroquinone cream to lighten the color of the skin
• Pink Secret System available at Ageless Medi-aesthetics is the first peel that is clinically formulated and gentle enough to help lighten and brighten our most delicate and private parts such as underarms, inner thighs and intimate areas. This gentle peel features a cocktail blend of lightening and tightening essences, as well as soothing and nourishing ingredients such as Chloracetic acid to rejuvenate and confer a peeling effect, Kojic Acid to whiten dark areas, Bisabolol to soften, soothe and regenerate youthful skin.
• IPL which can remove unwanted hair and lighten pigmented skin