Inflammation of the armpit - how dangerous is that?


An inflammation that occurs in the area of ​​the armpit can have various causes. In most cases, the inflammatory processes in the armpit are provoked by the slightest skin damage that can cause bacterial pathogens to pass through the skin surface.

These injuries are usually caused by regular shaving and the use of antiperspirants (deodorants). Almost all men and women who shave regularly in the armpits can observe the appearance of skin irritation and small pimples. These look ugly and may cause severe itching and burning, but are usually harmless and self-limiting. Often after shaving grown-up hair, which are very similar to pimples and therefore also known by the term "shaving pimple". See here: waxed armpit hair

Depending on how sensitive the skin of the armpits of affected patients is, in addition to these skin irritations pronounced inflammatory processes can arise. Especially people who have dry, flaky skin should therefore refrain from shaving and choose a different depilation method.

In addition, underarm area inflammation can originate from the numerous sweat glands within this region. Sweat gland inflammation, in contrast to the skin irritation caused by shaving, is not just an aesthetic problem, but above all a painful one. If the inflammation of the armpit is particularly severe, any contact with the skin and / or clothing can be extremely painful.

There are about three million sweat glands on the human body. Most sit in the area of ​​the forehead, the palms, the soles of the feet and the armpits. Due to the anatomical structure, the sweat glands are divided into two groups: those that are free in the skin and those that are directly attached to a hair follicle. The sweat glands of the armpit are usually connected to a hair follicle due to the strong hairiness.

The main cause of the inflammation of the sweat glands in the region of the axilla is the obstruction of the sebaceous glands and the concomitant blockage of the sebum flow. Meanwhile, several risk factors have been identified that are designed to increase the risk of axillary inflammation.

Danger of inflammation in the armpit

As a rule, inflammation in the armpits is a harmless local process, which in most cases occurs as a result of minute skin lesions. This is often the result of the depilation during shaving or by the use of aggressive depilatory creams.
Through the small lesions, pathogens can invade the skin and cause limited inflammation, which can be painful and associated with redness. This usually heals without consequences within a few days. Only in rare cases, an abscess, an encapsulated, purulent inflammatory process, which should necessarily be inspected by a doctor and possibly opened by this or must be treated antibiotic.

However, if the pathogens invade the sweat or sebaceous glands of the axillae, they can trigger sebum congestion as part of the inflammation, which can promote the formation of an abscess.

In connection with the hair removal it can also come to an ingrowth of armpit hair, which can cause long-term inflammation and usually manifests as itchy, painful and reddened pimples. These are not necessarily a reason for the doctor, but should be monitored.

Only in very rare exceptional cases are inflammations in the armpit cause for concern, since they usually heal by themselves. Only if the symptoms persist for more than a week, severe pain or development of a relevant swelling, which may be indicative of the development of an abscess, a doctor should be consulted. As a result of an abscess, a systemic spread of the pathogen can occur, which can lead to serious complications.

Causes of inflammation of the armpit

The most common cause of inflamed armpit is hair removal.

The causes of inflammation in the armpits are manifold. In general, the skin of the armpit is one of the most sensitive areas of the skin, as it is a hairy area of ​​the skin containing a variety of sweat glands attached to hair follicles. Due to the constant sweat production and the composition of the sweat the skin of the armpit is heavily stressed. In addition, it comes through both the close skin contact to the upper arm, as well as through the clothing to mechanical friction, which remove the uppermost dander again and again. In addition, most people often suffer from antiperspirants, which increasingly irritate the skin of the armpit.

The most common causes of underarm armpit inflammation include regular use of a shaver or other depilatories. Especially when using a razor not only the superficial parts of the hair are removed, but also caused the smallest skin lesions. Shaving without causing at least a small amount of damage to the skin is often impossible or very difficult due to the anatomical design of the armpit. If the affected people after the hair removal to a strong sweat production, this irritates the smallest wound edges and may cause inflammation. Applying a deodorant immediately after shaving may increase these skin reactions and increase the risk of inflammation. People who prefer this form of hair removal should change the blade of their shaver regularly, because just blunt razor blades ensure that the hair is cut less, but rather torn from the skin. Armpit inflammation is all the more likely the less the razor blade is replaced. In addition, the regular depilation of the armpit may cause the hair to grow in and spread below the surface of the skin. As a result, purulent inflammation may occur over time.

Another cause of the inflammation in the armpit area is the bacterial infection of the sweat glands (sweat infection). In most cases this is due to a keratinization disorder of the uppermost layer of skin, which leads to excessive corneal formation and clogs the excretory ducts of the sebaceous glands. Normally, sebum is secreted via these excretory ducts to keep the skin surface supple and to prevent it from drying out. The blockage of the excretory ducts causes a sebum congestion in the affected persons, as a result of which bacterial pathogens in the area of ​​the hair follicles of the armpit can multiply unhindered and cause inflammation. The typical bacterial agents of inflammation in the armpit area are staphylococci.
If this inflammation persists over a longer period of time, increasingly purulent secretions are formed, which can cause the development of a skin abscess.

Other factors that promote the development of inflammation in the armpits are:

  • Smoke
  • Overweight (this leads to increased fluid secretion and softening of the skin of the armpit)
  • tight clothes
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • male sex hormones
  • bacterial pathogens

The inflammation after a shave

The armpit is a sensitive skin region, which is particularly stressed during a shave. Inflammations in the area of ​​the armpit are not uncommon and can have different causes. In the skin of the armpit are located next to various glands and hair follicles. During a shave, the hair on the surface of the skin is cut off. The hair follicle is thus still in the skin. Of course, after shaving the hair grows again.

However, since it has a very sharp edge due to shaving, it can grow in and cause inflammation. But what exactly are ingrown hairs and what do they look like? Especially curly, thick and unruly hair can grow in easily. The hair grows crooked and penetrates the skin instead of growing outward. Below the skin surface, it then continues to grow. After a shave in the underarm area, this can also happen easily.

The inflammation appears as a kind of "pimple" that itches, hurts and can be reddened. On pressure, pus can also drain out of the "pimple". People who are prone to ingrown hair should avoid shaving or epilating their armpits and, of course, other skin areas, and prefer to grow the skin. If you prefer to shave, you should first treat the skin with a scrub. The hair should only be removed in the direction of growth.

After shaving it is recommended to apply a moisturizer to the skin. An ingrown hair in the armpit area is initially no reason for a doctor's visit, as long as it does not bother and the skin does not hurt. However, if the site is severely inflamed or abscesses have formed, a doctor should be consulted to remove the hair.

A shave can also cause minor skin injuries, especially if the blade is not sharp enough. Injuries in the skin can cause germs to enter the body, resulting in inflammation of the armpits. Such inflammations may also be painful or itchy and swollen and reddened. In some cases, shaving is not as such responsible for inflammation, but incompatibilities with used products.

Incompatibilities may exist, for example, with respect to a deodorant or a shaving cream. Suspicious are inflammations that occur in a temporal context to the use of a product. Furthermore, longer existing fungal infections with a yeast (candida) can cause discomfort after shaving.

Often a fungal infection of the armpit remains unrecognized by those affected for a long time or is dismissed as "inflammation after shaving" or the like. Especially in the summer, when you sweat a lot, such a fungal infection is common. It manifests itself by an itching and a ring-shaped, red rash, which can be quite large.

In addition, care should be taken after the hair removal especially on a prudent skin care. In order to reduce the risk of developing armpit inflammation, a nourishing skin cream with an antibacterial effect should urgently be applied. An example is the Dr. Severin Body After Shave Balm from the pharmacy.

Appearance by deodorant

Some ingredients of various deodorants cause intolerance and inflammation in the armpit. For example, contained fragrances but also preservatives and essential oils can lead to inflammation or allergic rashes.

If you are not sure whether a deodorant could be the cause of an inflammation in the armpit, it is advisable to just leave it out for a few days. If there is an improvement, a connection with the deodorant is not unlikely. Also, a deterioration of the inflammation when reusing the deodorant, strongly suggests that it is an incompatibility. Well-tolerated deodorants usually contain no preservatives and are fragrance-free, but they lack the antiperspirant effect. So they only counteract the formation of odors, but can not prevent sweating.

In addition, antibacterial after-shave balms can help to disinfect and soothe the skin. This is especially true after hair removal. An example of this is the Dr. Severin Body After-Shave Balm from the pharmacy.

Figure causes an axillary inflammation

Figure inflammation of the armpit: symptoms, causes and therapy

Inflammation of the armpit

  1. pimple
    (Pustules, pustule)
    in the armpit
  2. abscess
    (with purulent secretions
    filled cavity without
  3. sweat inflammation
  4. abscesses
    (Pus cavern inside
    emptied) - may lead to
    Creation of a blood poisoning!
    A - regular use
    a razor or other
    B - Deodorants
    (following hair removal)
    C - smoking
    D - overweight
    (increased liquid secretion)
    E - Anti-inflammatory ointments
    (with marigold ingredient)
    F - Tar containing ointment -
    for the treatment of abscesses
    (conservative) or operative
    (open surgically)

Symptoms of an inflammation of the armpit

Most of the time, inflammation in the armpit is caused by minor skin damage.

An inflammation in the armpits causes in most cases the classic signs of inflammation (Rubor, Dolor, Tumor, Calor, Functio laesa). The affected persons already feel an increasing sensation of tension during the development of the inflammatory processes, which is perceived over time as a slight to severe pain. Furthermore, the skin of the armpit in the presence of inflammation shows a red color (redness). Both the holding of the arm in the normal position, as well as the raising of the arm can cause severe pain in those affected; These are due to the friction that acts on the inflamed skin surface during these movements. Applying an antiperspirant can also cause severe pain. People who suffer from an inflammation in the armpits usually notice a significant restriction of movement. In addition, inflammation of the armpit may be due to the appearance of scaly, dry skin. Local swellings on affected skin areas are also a typical symptom of inflammation in the armpits. In addition, pronounced inflammatory processes in those affected can lead to itching and burning.

Formation of pus / abscess

An abscess is a collection of pus, which is caused by the fact that tissue melts in the context of an inflammatory process. This creates a kind of cave where the pus can collect. The armpit is a region that is often affected by an abscess. The causes of the formation of an abscess have not been conclusively clarified. Also, the question of why some people are more often affected by abscesses than others, is also not very clear answer.

Causes of abscesses may be the entry of germs into the skin, ingrown hair or inflammatory skin diseases such as acne inversa. Also, an inflammation of the hair follicle, a so-called furunculosis, can lead to the formation of an abscess in the armpit. The abscess causes pain and redness of the skin. Overheating is also typical.

The skin in the armpit can look tense and shine. You should not try to open the abscess yourself, but seek medical attention immediately. An abscess can otherwise lead to dangerous sepsis and must therefore be surgically opened and rinsed.


The most common complication of underarm armpit inflammation is the development of a skin abscess. An abscess is a purulent secretion-filled cavity with no exit passage, which could ensure proper drainage of the secretion. In addition to the purulent secretion, various inflammatory mediators are found in the interior of the abscess, which further promote the inflammatory processes. Inflammation in the armpits tends to develop a skin abscess, especially if the patient's immune system is weakened. In addition, previous surgical procedures in this area of ​​the skin may favor the formation of a cutaneous abscess in the armpit.
Furthermore, in the presence of an abscess of the armpit there is a risk that the pus cavity empties inward. If this happens, the bacterial pathogens can enter the bloodstream and lead to the development of blood poisoning (sepsis). Blood poisoning is a potentially life-threatening condition requiring urgent medical attention.

Therapy of an inflammation of the armpit

To relieve pain, marigold-containing ointments can be applied.

The treatment of inflammation in the armpit is always based on the underlying problem.
If the inflammatory processes are caused by the respective depilatory method, this should be reconsidered. Some people tolerate waxing or an epilation in the armpit much better than a daily shave. However, since these procedures can be very painful, alternative hair removal creams can be used as an alternative. However, these should be tested on a small area of ​​skin before actual use. If redness occurs during this test, under no circumstances should the depilatory be used around the armpits. In addition, one should abide by the use of depilatory cream on the recommended on the package insert exposure times. Otherwise, it can cause painful skin conditions and local inflammatory reactions, as the strong chemicals contained in depilatory creams cause the hair to dissolve. If these chemicals affect the skin surface for too long, the individual skin cells can be severely damaged. In addition, care should be taken after the hair removal especially on a prudent skin care. In order to reduce the risk of inflammation in the area of ​​the armpit, a nourishing skin cream should urgently be applied.

In addition, there is a possibility that the inflammation of the armpit caused by cosmetics. If this suspicion exists, those concerned should consider changing the care products used. In general, products containing alcohol should be avoided, as they disinfect the surface of the skin, but at the same time make it dry and crack. The use of alcohol-based care products and / or deodorants can cause severe pain and burning in the armpit if there is inflammation in the armpits. In addition, various fragrances contained in the individual care products can cause inflammatory processes or slow down the healing of inflammation. Persons who observe skin reactions especially immediately after the application of such care products should, under certain circumstances, consult a dermatologist and have their intolerance determined. Even in such cases the change of creams and / or deodorants can help to relieve the inflammation of the armpit.

In cases of severe pain or the presence of particularly pronounced symptoms, locally effective, anti-inflammatory ointments may be applied to the armpits. Above all, ointments containing the ingredient "marigold", are suitable for the treatment of inflammation of the armpit. The affected persons should always be aware that inflamed pimples in the area of ​​the armpits should never be manipulated independently; It may be a cornification disorder with excessive sebum production. The squeezing in this case would lead to widespread inflammatory reactions and aggravate the situation.

If round swellings are to be recognized in the area of ​​the inflamed armpit and cause severe pain, a specialist should be consulted urgently. This form of swelling may be an abscess that needs urgent treatment. The treatment of inflammatory abscesses in the armpit can be done both conservatively (non-surgically) and surgically. In many cases it is sufficient to apply a tar-containing ointment over a period of several days. This measure can lead to a regression of the purulent processes. In addition, it is possible to surgically open a caused by inflammation abscess in the armpit and thus ensure the outflow of pus.

What can you do about the pain?

The pain in the context of an inflammation of the armpit can be treated with pain-relieving medicines, which are either prescribed by the doctor or are freely available for sale in the pharmacy. Let your doctor advise you the best. Examples of such drugs, which also have an anti-inflammatory effect, are ibuprofen, aspirin or diclofenac.

However, they are not suitable for long-term use and should not be taken for more than a few days. Also warming and moist compresses can help against the pain. Just push it gently against the armpit. Continue to make sure that the stressed skin is not strained by shaving or too tight clothing. In severe pain should also be dispensed with sports until the inflammation has improved.

Creams and ointments

The use of cooling creams with antibacterial ingredients may be helpful in certain inflammations. Mostly they are not necessary. In case of allergic skin rashes and inflammations, slight cortisone ointments may be used.

As a rule, however, creams and ointments play a minor role in the treatment of armpit inflammation, since usually no therapeutic measures are necessary. Abscess requires adequate treatment that does not require the use of creams or even ointment. Ointments that promote blood circulation and facilitate the opening of an abscess are highly controversial and are therefore rarely used.

home remedies

Inflammation in the armpit can be very uncomfortable for those affected. Pain and itching are possible symptoms and even redness or swelling can be very disturbing. Some inflammations, such as abscesses, must be treated by a doctor. For lighter inflammations, for example after a shave, home remedies can help to relieve the symptoms first. The following section lists some tips and tricks to help you alleviate armpit inflammation symptoms.

  • Protect the skin !: Inflammation should be avoided with very tight clothing around the armpits. Furthermore, scratching and irritating textiles such as lamb wool should be avoided. If you suspect a textile incompatibility, you should avoid these textiles. Even washing with softener or irritating detergents should be avoided.
  • Avoid irritating deodorants and care products! : It's a good idea to leave out the deodorant you normally use to find out if the inflammation may be related to it. Use fragrance-free deodorants and soaps. Also natural deodorants such as alum or lemon juice can be used.
  • Apply Warm Compresses !: Warm, moist compresses can relieve inflammation and promote inflammatory fluid drainage in the affected area. However, always use clean compresses (washcloths) and therefore change them after each application.
  • Apply soothing oils !: These include, for example, aloe vera or tea tree oil. However, watch out for the reaction of your skin. In some people, intolerance to essential oils may also occur.

Knot in the armpit

Nodules in the area of ​​the armpit can have different causes - both benign and malignant causes are possible. If you feel a knot in the armpit, a doctor's visit is advised to clarify the cause. In many cases, a simple infection with a virus is the cause of the node. Also infections with Ebstein Barr virus can lead to nodes in the armpit area. The nodes are lymph nodes that swell as part of the immune response. Typically, the lymph nodes hurt when you put pressure on them.

Another common and benign cause of axillary knots is furunculosis, which is painful inflammation of the hair follicle. Unfortunately, even malignant diseases of the blood, lymphatic system and various organs can lead to nodule formation in the armpits. Such nodules are also swollen lymph nodes.

Mostly they are not painful and unlike infectious diseases they are not red. In malignant diseases of the lymphatic system, such as lymphoma, accompanying symptoms such as fever, night sweats and weight loss are typical. Swollen lymph nodes in the armpit are a possible indication for women with breast cancer in the affected side. However, it has to be emphasized that malignant diseases such as cancer are the rarer cause of underarm nodules than benign diseases such as viral infections.

Occurrence during pregnancy

Also during pregnancy an inflammation of the armpit is possible. In principle, during pregnancy, the same causes, such as minor injuries during shaving, abscesses or hair follicles, may be responsible for the inflammation in the armpits.

Painful swollen lymph nodes may also indicate a viral infection during pregnancy, but this is not necessarily a cause for concern. Also inflammation in the area of ​​the breast especially at the end of pregnancy and while breastfeeding can lead to inflammation and swelling in the area of ​​the armpit.

Most of these are also swollen lymph nodes of the armpit. For pain and inflammation in the armpits you should first keep calm as pregnant women: It is usually a harmless cause such as a slight inflammation by shaving. Nevertheless, you should consult your gynecologist and examine the inflamed or swollen area and seek advice.

Occurrence in the baby

Many parents have an inflammation of the armpits in their babies. Most of these appear as redness, which is accompanied by a yellowish scaling or a kind of "sour cream", as many parents call it. As a rule, this is the harmless "head gneiss", which occurs very often within the first three months in babies and disappears again until the first year of life.

The head gneiss requires no special therapy. Often, slight redness in the armpit can be seen after bathing. Even a slight itching is possible. You can avoid this by making sure that the skin folds of the baby, for example, in the groin and the armpit dry well. A little baby powder can help as well. A healing ointment can also help relieve redness.

Get advice from your pediatrician and show him the inflamed areas in a timely manner. As a rule, such redness disappears in babies quickly and without complications. If itching and redness persist beyond the third month of life and do not respond to measures such as good drying and the use of ointment and baby powder, eczema may also be considered the cause.

Other topics from this area

Abscess of the axilla

An abscess is a pus-filled cavity. Abscess formation can occur as part of inflammatory processes.
Click here for the topic: Abscess of the Axilla

Skin itches after shaving

After shaving, itching may occur, accompanied by redness, swelling, and often small pimples. This skin condition is also known as razor burn.
Here's the topic: skin itches after shaving

Homeopathy in dermatitis

Skin inflammation is often associated with redness, swelling and pain. Homeopathic remedies can also be used to treat inflammatory processes.
Click here for the topic: Homeopathy for dermatitis

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