Why Does Natural Deodorant Give Me a Rash?

If you’ve been using aluminum or some sort of other chemically based deodorant your entire life, switching to natural deodorant may have some side effects at first. Your armpits will undergo what is known as a “detox period”, as the body will need a little bit of time to adjust to the natural ingredients.

During this detox phase, you may have noticed that natural deodorant give you a rash. You first impulse will be to blame one of the ingredients in the deodorant, but you may not actually be allergic to any of them. So, what causes this rash and how can you make it go away.

Types of Rashes

Skin irritation, closeup

Just because you’re using natural deodorant doesn’t mean you’re doing everything right in terms of pit health. And even if you are, there are many external factors that can cause a rash in this particular area of your body. The five most common types of underarm rashes include:

  • Contact dermatitis – It’s typically caused when one of the ingredients in the natural deodorant that you’re using trigger a reaction for your immune system. When contact dermatitus happens, you may have to switch your natural deodorant brand with another. If you can identify the particular ingredients that’s causing the rash, simply look for a natural deodorant alternative that doesn’t contain said ingredients.
  • Irritant contact dermatitis – There are certain substances that can alter the skin’s natural pH level, or that simply damage the outer layer of the skin. Baking soda is an ingredient notorious for having this effect. Switching to natural deodorant can initially take a toll on your skin, because it alters the pH, which requires time to find balance despite the fact that you’re feeding it natural ingredients.
  • Phototoxic contact dermatitis – This usually occurs when an area as sensitive as your underarm is exposed to too much sunlight or sunburn. As this happens, you are more likely to develop a rash.
    allergic rash skin of patient arm
  • Intertrigo – Bacteria is found all over your skin. Your pits are no exception. Intertrigo is a type of rash that commonly appears in the fold of the skin that experience heavy friction plus bacteria presence. Because there is a high chance of developing a yeast infection in these areas, it’s also likely to end up with an armpit rash.
  • Prickly heat rash – This type of rash usually occurs in people that live in hot and humid areas. Sweat is your body’s way of regulating temperature, so the hotter you feel, the more likely the body is to sweat excessively. This causes the pores of your armpits to become clogged (particularly with dead skin cells), which can lead to a rash.

Baking Soda

Close-up of baking soda in a glass jar. Bicarbonate of soda.

Baking soda has a rich alkaline pH. This means that using too much baking soda on your skin can cause a reaction, such as rash. But even if the amount of baking soda in the natural deodorant you’re using is just right, you may be extra sensitive to this ingredient. It’s not the best for sensitive skin.

Your skin has a moisture barrier, one that baking soda can impair. However, this moisture barrier can also be damaged by your shower gel, as this product can contain chemicals and sulfates as well.

In order to prevent this from happening, you should consider using a mild, maybe even a natural glycerine soap for your armpits. There are plenty of natural options, with deliciously-smelling ingredients, like cocoa, coconut, mango, or rose. You can also rebuild this moisture barrier by using body butter that’s rich in essential oils and fatty acids.

Shaving

Body care. Young woman shaving her armpit

Shaving your armpits can inevitably cause little cuts on the surface of the skin. If you’ve ever applied deodorant right after shaving and felt a sting, that’s what was causing it. Naturally, this can lead to irritation in the underarm.

A good idea would be to shave in the evening and then apply deodorant in the morning. This will give your skin time to heal from these cuts. Make sure that you never use a dull razor for shaving.

Sweating

Close-up asian woman with hyperhidrosis sweating. Young asia woman with sweat stain on her clothes against grey background. Healthcare concept.

Oddly enough, people never think that their underarm rash can be caused by sweat itself. Since you’ve switched to natural deodorant, this means that your pores will no longer be clogged with aluminum, so there are no antiperspirants in effect here. Translation: natural deodorant doesn’t stop sweating.

And you don’t want it to, either. Sweat is a natural body reaction, which helps regulate the body’s temperature, while also relieving it from toxins. But those of you that sweat too much are very likely to feel and itchiness caused by the excess perspiration. Regardless of whether you’ll be scratching your skin or not, this can lead to irritation and inflammation.

Here’s how to prevent this from happening:

  • In periods when you are likely to sweat more (like in the summertime or after going to the gym), make sure that you thoroughly clean your pits, using mild or natural soap. This will prevent bacteria build-up, but also cleanses the skin from trapped sweat.
  • After showering, consider using a talc-free baby powder, as this can absorb moisture and prevents irritation and rashes.
    Portrait of young beautiful woman in white towel after shower
  • A good idea would be to avoid the use of synthetic clothes. Not only so they prevent your skin from breathing, but they don’t have the moisture wicking properties of a fabric such as cotton. Wear not just comfortable clothes, but make sure they are efficient in times of excessive sweat.

Bottom Line

While using natural deodorant is good, this is not the only step required for proper armpit hygiene. Even if you’re smearing natural ingredients all over your skin, there are other skincare rituals that should be sacred if you truly want to avoid a rash.

Shaving and then immediately applying deodorant, even if it’s natural, is a bad idea. It’s also important to wash your armpits daily using natural or mild soap, to kill the bacteria that reside on the surface of the skin. Also, keep in mind that even if you’re using natural deodorant, you might still be “feeding” your armpits with chemicals from shower gels.

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