Deodorant Rash: What Is It, Symptoms & Treatment Options

January 2022
  1. Symptoms
  2. Diagnosis
  3. What to do in case of allergy
  4. Treatment

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

Although some fabrics, especially synthetics like Lycra, polyester or nylon, can also cause a rash in the armpit, it is more common to occur due to an allergic reaction to deodorant.

Washing 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.

Main symptoms

With deodorant allergies, 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.

How to confirm the diagnosis

The diagnosis of a deodorant allergy 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 in case of allergy

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

  1. Washing the armpit with plenty of water and neutral pH soap, to remove all the deodorant applied;
  2. Applying hypoallergenic 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 allergy 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.

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Edited by Tua Saude editing team in January 2022. Clinical review completed by Manuel Reis - Registered Nurse in January 2022.
Clinical review:
Manuel Reis
Registered Nurse
Manuel graduated in 2013 and is licensed to practice under the Ordem dos Enfermeiros de Portugal, with license #79026. He specializes in Advanced Clinical Phytotherapy.