Ask the Experts: Is Your Deodorant Causing Dark Spots Under Your Arms?

Kristin Booker

Applying Deodorant

Let’s face it: we’re big fans of deodorant, especially when it comes to close quarters for long periods of time with the general population. We use it frequently, and we typically use it and then forget about it…except if dark spots start to occur.

It’s a rare thing that your deodorant could discolor your underarms, but for some of us it’s a really unwelcome thing. We turned to Dr. Jeannette Graf, M.D., assistant clinical professor of dermatology at The Mount Sinai Medical Center, to figure out exactly why these dark marks occur and how to get rid of them without skipping the deodorant (which for us is SO not going to happen):

Ok, so why do we get dark circles and spots under our arms?

Some people get discoloration as a results of a perfect storm of the normal bacteria that live under the arms interacting with the aluminum in the deodorant. That, in addition with the normal salt in sweat, sebum, etc., can cause discoloration. Also, some people are just more prone to hyper-pigmentation from shaving, which can also cause the dark spots and marks to occur.

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So, how do you get rid of the dark marks under the arms?

You can simply change deodorants. I’ve prescribed Certain Dri to clients who are more sensitive to drugstore brands, but I’ve also found that the newer deodorant formulas in products such as Secret Clinical Strength contain a more gentle form of Aluminum Zirconium Tetrachlorohydrex; they last longer and they’re much less apt to cause this problem. If you’re still prone to discoloration and your insurance will cover it, Botox is the best solution because it stops sweating altogether, which alleviates the problem entirely.

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