May 2, 2010 9:36 AM   Subscribe

Is there any way to change (lighten?) grey armpits?


My underarms are dark. I am a fair-skinned female, and my underarms are much darker than the rest of me. I have tried switching deodorants and shaving gels, and tried to lighten the area with lemon juice as a friend suggested. Nothing worked.

Is there any way to fix this? I'd like to wear tank tops without feeling like I need to conceal something. I know it doesn't matter, but they look awful.

(Note: I'm in Canada but I travel frequently, so product recommendations from anywhere are welcome.)

Relevant information:
- I'm pretty healthy, overall. I don't take any medications. I take fish oil and a multivitamin everyday, but I had this problem before I started taking either of them.
- I've stopped shaving the area to see if it would help. I haven't shaved my armpits in 3 weeks. No change.
- When I was shaving, it was every 4-5 days at most.
- I've had problems with sensitive armpits in the past (some deodorants irritate me, sometimes my armpits are really itchy for what seems like no reason)

Thank you!
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (7 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
You could try something like hydroquinone and see if it has an effect. It is available OTC in many areas.
posted by Ouisch at 9:42 AM on May 2, 2010

What happens if you exfoliate them? If you're shaving every 4-5 days at most, are you sure it's the skin that looks gray, and not the hair (even the hair below the surface) making it look gray?
posted by runningwithscissors at 9:47 AM on May 2, 2010

This and this seem to talk about your issue.

They talk about two kinds of dark underarms - one in which the hair growing in after shaving makes the area appear dark, and another in which the skin has been stained in some way. I'm assuming you're talking about the later.

The links above suggest you:

1. stop shaving and start having the area waxed
2. use lemon juice (as you tried)
3. try using a pumice stone on the underarm every day
4. be sparing in your use of anti-perspirant
5. apply a powder to the skin to keep it dry.
posted by jardinier at 9:48 AM on May 2, 2010

Could be Acanthosis Nigricans. Does it look like this? Worth a talk with a doctor if so, as it indicates insulin resistance and can be an early sign of impending type-2 diabetes that can be delayed or prevented if caught early.
posted by mef613 at 9:57 AM on May 2, 2010 [2 favorites]

I'd see a dermatologist
posted by radioamy at 11:00 AM on May 2, 2010

You could try electrolysis. Sometimes the hair roots will darken the skin and this will pretty much get rid of them.
posted by Honkshu at 11:30 AM on May 2, 2010

My sister and I both had a similar phenomenon when we entered adolescence; we're both Korean. I can't tell if it's exactly the same though--we'd get these grey patches that seemed to be a film of dried but not sloughed-off dead skin that wouldn't come off easily at all. When I went into the hospital for surgery the medical team even asked me what was up with it. If the skin is just ashy and colored differently but doesn't actually feel different than the rest, it might not be what we had to deal with though.

My sister, being more into her looks than I was at the time, stumbled upon a couple OTC tricks, but nothing was absolutely bulletproof all the time.

-Exfoliate vigilantly. Don't rub yourself raw, but keep up with it, at least once a week. Scrubbing alone didn't solve it in a simple "takes it all off at once" way for us, but it did seem to make the general problematic layer thinner and easier to deal with using the other stuff below.
-Jergens has a lotion labeled "Ultra-Healing with Hydralux" that comes in big pump bottles; Allure awards it regularly. Long before the awards though my sister discovered if she applied a thin layer to her pits right after getting out of the shower and doing a brief towel-down (so her skin was maybe a little damp still), before deodorant, it seemed to help a lot. I started doing it too and lo. We had tried other lotions, including way more expensive ones, first.
-I know you mentioned trying different deodorants, but in case you haven't tried it yet: Dove powder deodorant, while not perfect, seems the least irritating and drying to the skin there for me.
-I can't vouch firsthand but people with vaguely similar sounding skin problems online tend to swear by Co-Enzyme Q and AmLactin/LacHydrin.
posted by ifjuly at 11:36 AM on May 2, 2010

« Older How do I at least get a date with a shy guy when I...   |   Regular tessellations of Euclidean spaces Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.