How to treat allergies to deodorants and antiperspirants

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Underarm deodorants and antiperspirants are among the most common sources of cosmetic allergies. They can cause armpit rashes, flaky skin, etc.

  • Deodorants are classified as cosmetics by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). They have antimicrobial properties that reduce bacterial growth and are fragrances that mask odors.
  • Antiperspirants are classified as drugs by the FDA and generally contain aluminum, which reduces sweat production by the sweat glands. They are available as singles or in combination.
Illustration by Brianna Gilmartin, Get Drug Information

Symptoms

Deodorants and antiperspirants are generally considered safe products. Allergic reactions to deodorants and antiperspirants often lead to contact dermatitis .

Contact dermatitis, which develops as a result of the use of deodorants and antiperspirants, is generally limited to the application site, that is, the armpit area.

You can experience:

  • Itching
  • Inequality
  • Redness
  • Bubbles
  • Instability
  • Peeling
  • Transpire

The timing of symptoms varies. These effects can develop within minutes of using the product or symptoms can appear several hours later. Sometimes the effects wear off quickly, within an hour. However, they can last for several days and will not go away until you stop using the product.

Causes

Various chemicals can contribute to contact dermatitis from deodorants and antiperspirants, the most common of which are fragrances .

An allergy to odors is very common; up to 4% of all people suffer from it. Since 90% of deodorants and antiperspirants contain fragrances, you need to specifically use products labeled "odorless" if you are allergic to fragrances. Be aware that "odorless foods", which generally do not have a specific odor, may contain masking scents that can lead to allergies.

Other causes of deodorant and antiperspirant contact dermatitis include propylene glycol (a carrier agent used as a "carrier" for active ingredients), parabens, vitamin E (as an antioxidant and moisturizer), and lanolin .

Exploring other conditions

According to the study, there was some concern that parabens (used as preservatives) in these products were responsible for the increased incidence of breast cancer in women. While no such link has been proven, most manufacturers no longer use parabens in deodorants and antiperspirants.

Although aluminum in antiperspirants has been blamed for increasing the incidence of Alzheimer's disease , this idea has been widely disproved. Aluminum deposits can be seen in the brain tissue of people with Alzheimer's, but the human body does not absorb much of the aluminum from the antiperspirant that is applied under the arms. Furthermore, even those people who are regularly exposed to industrial exposure to aluminum do not always have an increased incidence of Alzheimer's disease. It has not yet been established whether aluminum deposits are the cause of Alzheimer's disease or the result of Alzheimer's disease .

Diagnostics

Deodorant and antiperspirant contact dermatitis is diagnosed with patches . The only FDA-approved patch test system in the United States is the TRUE test, which does not reliably detect allergies to unusual odors and propylene glycol. Therefore, your allergist will review your own deodorant or antiperspirant if they suspect this is causing your problem.

Other causes of underarm rashes that are not caused by deodorants and antiperspirants include fungal and yeast infections (such as ringworm and yeast infection), inverse psoriasis , acanthosis nigricans, some forms of cancer, and more.

Watch out

Immediate treatment for deodorant and antiperspirant allergies generally consists of the direct application of topical corticosteroids to the skin of the armpits .

Topical corticosteroids are the drug of choice for mild to moderate contact dermatitis that affects localized areas of the body. In severe cases, oral or injectable corticosteroids may be required.

The management and prevention of allergy to deodorants and antiperspirants is based on avoiding the chemical responsible for the reaction. If the patch test identifies a specific chemical, you can choose products that do not contain the offending chemical.

If you don't know the exact ingredient that is causing your contact dermatitis, you can try using a hypoallergenic deodorant or antiperspirant. You may want to consider products that contain zeolite crystals that are commercially available as a natural alternative to deodorants and antiperspirants. These include Crystal Body deodorant, which can be purchased at drug stores across the country.

If avoidance and corticosteroid treatment are ineffective in treating the rash, it should be evaluated by a dermatologist who can perform a skin biopsy .

Prophylaxis

Hypoallergenic deodorants and antiperspirants include:

  • Almay odorless hypoallergenic roll-on (deodorant and antiperspirant)
  • Mitchum Roll-On Unscented (deodorant and antiperspirant)
  • Stiefel B-Drier (deodorant and antiperspirant)
  • A certain Dree (antiperspirant)
  • Roll-on deodorant for sensitive skin Crystal Roll-On Body Deodorant (deodorant)
  • Crystal Stick body deodorant for sensitive skin (deodorant)
  • Secret Soft Solid Platinum odorless deodorant (deodorant)
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