What is underarm itch?

An underarm itch is a tickling, irritating sensation accompanied by the persistent need to scratch your underarm. The medical term for itching is pruritus. Redness, swelling, soreness, flaking and scarring may occur in the area of itchiness. Although scratching may temporarily relieve your symptoms, persistent scratching can worsen underarm itch symptoms and leave the affected skin susceptible to contamination and infection. With most cases of itching, it is best if you can refrain from scratching and leave the area alone to heal.

Causes of underarm itch are numerous and include insect bites, allergies, infections, and trauma. When wounds are healing they often start to itch, which is a sign of improvement. Chickenpox, an extremely common childhood illness, is accompanied by red, oozing blisters that cause intense itching. Eczema and contact dermatitis are potential causes, as are conditions such as head lice, scabies, and pinworm. An underarm itch may stem from a rash or ingrown hair that is caused by shaving. The underarm area is continuously warm and moist, making it an ideal environment for a variety of fungal skin infections.

Obstructive biliary disease, caused by a blockage of the bile ducts, is condition that causes severe itching. Chronic kidney disease can also cause generalized itching.

Most causes of underarm itch are fairly mild and should not be a cause for concern. However, your health care professional should evaluate itching that is sudden, severe or unusual. Itching caused by a serious food allergy can come on rapidly with a strong need to scratch. This type of itching may be symptomatic of a serious anaphylactic reaction, which impairs breathing and causes swelling, fainting, and vomiting, and is considered a medical emergency.

Sudden itching can be a sign of anaphylaxis, a severe, life-threatening allergic reaction to a food, chemical, or insect sting. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if an itch is accompanied by symptoms such as swelling of the face, swelling or constriction of the throat, difficulty breathing, fainting, change in level of consciousness or alertness, or rash.


What other symptoms might occur with underarm itch?

Underarm itch may be accompanied by other symptoms, depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition. Certain conditions that cause underarm itch may also involve other body systems.

Related localized symptoms that may occur along with underarm itch

Underarm itch may be accompanied by other localized symptoms including:


What causes underarm itch?

Underarm itch may have many possible causes, including allergens (agents that cause allergies), infections, autoimmune disorders, or other causes such as stress.

Allergic causes of underarm itch

Underarm may be caused by contact dermatitis. Common triggers include:

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Sep 20, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Skin, Hair and Nails

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