Deodorant Rash: Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatment

Updated in June 2023

A deodorant rash is an inflammatory reaction in the armpit the use of deodorants or antiperspirants. It that causes symptoms such as intense itching, blisters, red patches, redness or a burning sensation.

Some fabrics, especially synthetic fabrics like Lycra, polyester or nylon, can also cause an underarm rash, although rashes in this area are more likely to occur with allergic reactions to deodorant.

Cleansing the armpits with plenty of water and neutral pH soap as soon as the first symptoms appear can help prevent the rash from getting worse. However, you should see your doctor if symptoms worsen or if you notice blisters, intense heat or pain. 

Imagem ilustrativa número 1

Main symptoms

With deodorant rashes, one of the first symptoms that usually appears is a burning sensation and irritated skin.

However, other symptoms may include:

  • Red blisters or spots on the skin
  • A lump in the armpit
  • Very intense itching
  • Redness

In some cases, when the deodorant isn’t removed immediately, peeling, blistering or even burns may occur in the armpit.

In more sensitive people, there may even be more severe allergy symptoms, such as swelling of the face, eyes or tongue, the feeling of something stuck in the throat or difficulty in breathing. In these cases, you should go to the hospital immediately to receive IV antihistamine and a corticosteroid medication to prevent serious complications such as respiratory arrest.

Confirming a diagnosis

The diagnosis of a deodorant rash can be done by a dermatologist who will assess your symptoms and the condition of your armpits after the product is applied. After this first examination, the doctor may ask for an allergy test to confirm the diagnosis and to identify the ingredient that is causing the allergy. In some cases, it is possible to choose deodorants that don’t contain the allergy-causing ingredient to avoid this type of reaction.

To avoid a deodorant allergy, it is important to always test the deodorant in a small area of the armpit and wait for a few hours to see if there is an unwanted reaction.

What to do

It is important to act quickly when you have symptoms of a deodorant rash by:

  1. Washing the armpit with plenty of water and neutral pH soap, to remove all the deodorant applied;
  2. Applying hypoallergenic creams or calming products to the skin, such as creams or lotions with aloe, chamomile or lavender, to soothe and moisturize the skin;
  3. Applying cold water compresses to the armpits, to reduce irritation and the burning sensation.

The symptoms should disappear altogether within two hours after washing and moisturizing the skin. However, if this doesn’t happen or if the symptoms worsen, go to the dermatologist as soon as possible.

If you start having difficulty in breathing or feeling like there’s something stuck in your throat, go to the hospital or emergency room quickly, as these are signs of an anaphylactic reaction, an allergy condition that needs urgent treatment.

Treatment options

The treatment for a deodorant rash depends on your symptoms and may involve the use of antihistamines, like Loratadine or Allegra, or corticosteroids, such as Betamethasone. These medications relieve and treat allergy symptoms and should be prescribed by a dermatologist.

In cases where there is too much redness or itching in the armpits, ointments with antihistaminic properties which help in relieving these symptoms may also be recommended.

Learn more about what can cause red spots on the skin and how they can be treated.