Why Am I Getting an Armpit Rash?

Why Am I Getting an Armpit Rash?

When using natural deodorant, ⅔ of us have probably experienced an armpit rash of some sort. It’s actually very common and happens more than expected. As someone who does not have sensitive skin normally, I was shocked that I had developed a flaming red, itchy rash when I was testing a new natural deodorant a few years ago. I’ll never forget that time because I was on vacation and that armpit rash was so painful, it practically ruined the entire trip! I automatically blamed the ingredients in the deodorant for the rash, but knowing what I know now, it could have been caused by something else. Most of us will automatically jump to the conclusion that deodorant ingredients is to blame. While that may be true sometimes, it’s important to recognize other common causes to properly diagnose.



But first, let’s clarify that not all natural deodorants are the same. Ever heard the saying “Calories are not created equal”? Well, it’s the same for natural deodorants. As I talked about in a previous post a few weeks ago, some natural deodorants are formulated with irritating and harsh ingredients. As the skin on our armpits are one of the most sensitive areas, it’s very important that gentle yet effective ingredients are used there.


baking soda can cause armpit rashes

Photo by Schmits.


If you have sensitive skin, it’s best to avoid deodorants that contain baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) or essential oils listed in the first or second line of the ingredient list. This means the ingredients are used at very high levels and could cause irritation and rashes.


Natural deodorant almost got me divorced!

Many years ago when natural deodorants were just starting to appear on the market, I wanted my husband to switch from antiperspirant to natural deodorant with me. He was totally on board and the first 3 days were fine for the both of us. Then one morning I could hear my husband yelling in pain (his pain tolerance is quite high I might say). He lifted both his arms to reveal two flaming red rashes under each arm. It was so painful he couldn’t barely move his arms. When I had looked at the ingredients, that’s when I saw that the first ingredient was baking soda, a known skin irritant. Needless to say, I had a very annoyed and angry husband afterwards. Oops, hehe! This is also the main reason why I would never use baking soda in my own natural deodorants, as many people have the same reactions as my husband.



Moisture rash or Intertrigo, is when a rash forms in skin folds, such as armpits and the skin under breasts. The skin folds traps moisture and the skin-to-skin friction irritates the skin, kind of like when babies get a diaper rash. This type of armpit rash is very common because when using natural deodorant, your underarms are more likely to sweat as there is no aluminum chloride plugging your sweat ducts.


Keep skin dry by applying a natural powder like cornstarch or arrowroot powder overtop armpits to help absorb excess moisture.




razor - armpit rashes - kaia naturals

Photo by Patrick Coddou.

We all know that shaving is annoying and sometimes painful, especially when you’re in a rush. Well, good news, I’m here to tell you another reason to drop the blade: It’s also irritating to your skin. Especially when you shave against the grain, the blade of the razor tugs at the hair, pulling it away from the skin causing more irritation. Not shaving properly can lead to razor burns and bumps, causing red rashy irritated armpits.


Shave hair in the direction your hair grows, not against it. Always use a buffer like shaving cream so that it acts like a thin barrier. Never apply deodorant right after shaving, as this can also cause further irritation. Shave at night and let skin heal overnight before applying deodorant.




clothes that give me an armpit rash

Photo by Ethan Bodnar.

Who would have thought… yes, your clothing can also be a cause for an armpit rash. If a top is too tight to your underarms, the sleeves could be blocking your pores, which prevents your sweat from evaporating. Moisture gets trapped under your skin and causes a heat rash. Luckily, heat rashes aren’t serious and they typically go away within a few days. The best way to prevent them is to stay in cool environments and of course, wear loose-fitting clothing. Once again, during the detox transitional phase, you may be sweating more, so it’s important to be wary of this.



Everyone has Candidaa type of funguson their skin, but too much of it can cause rashes called candidiasis. A lot of factors can cause Candida overgrowth: tight clothing, poor hygiene, pregnancy, taking antibiotics, a poor immune system, and even living in a hot, humid climate can cause an infection. These rashes also tend to develop in damp parts of your body. As your armpits could be damper than usual during the 30-day transitional phase and when using natural deodorant, that means they’re especially at risk! Apart from candidiasis, other infections can cause armpit rashes. According to this academic article, for moisture-associated skin damage (MASD) to occur, moisture and bacteria must also be present on the affected area. As we all know, our armpits are a breeding ground for bacteria, especially during the stages of detox. Bacteria plus wetness is a recipe for a body odor…and a rash! To find out if you may have candidiasis, consult with your doctor.



Just like Candida overgrowth, eczema rashes can be caused by different factors such as dry skin, stress, our harsh Canadian winters, and all sorts of irritants like metals, fragrances and household products. Even completely natural irritants like juices from fruits and vegetables can cause a reaction. Researchers believe it’s a mix of an overreactive immune system, gene mutations and triggers in the person’s environment that can cause eczema. To find out if you may have an eczema rash, consult with your doctor. To learn more about how to switch to natural deodorant successfully, read why some of them don’t work.

Let us know if you’ve had an experience with natural deodorants or armpit rashes that you’d like to share.

Feature image by Laura Marques.

shop the underarm bar


Why Natural Deodorants Don’t Work

Why Natural Deodorants Don’t Work


This week, Mary decodes: Your underarms.


The first thing I often hear from consumers is that, “Natural deodorants DON’T work!” I am going to admit that I had tried for years to use natural deodorant without success, until I figured out why…


The Method

The truth is, we have probably thrown out a lot of deodorants that actually DO work. First, I will state that not all deodorants are created equally, so keep this in mind as human microbiome in the underarm area is very complicated. Therefore, finding success with natural deodorants just requires some knowledge.


Here are some key tips to helping you choose a natural deodorant that will work for you:

time clock by lucas blazek




If you are going to be making the change from antiperspirant to natural deodorant or just changing brands, BE PATIENT.

Your underarm microbiomes are about to go on a wild ride as studies show that the bacteria in your underarm will change when you stop using antiperspirant or deodorant (even using different brands of deodorant will recolonize the armpits with new bacteria).

U.S. medical journals show that similar to the gut or the mouth, the biology of armpit bacteria is just as complicated. This is why you need to allow at least 2 to 4 weeks to adjust to natural deodorant.


clothes rack by priscilla du perez




Antiperspirants block your sweat glands and prevent you from sweating, so when you stop using them, your body also needs to adjust to the feeling of moisture. Arrowroot and cornstarch, typically found in natural deodorants help with this.

However, if you sweat a great deal DO NOT WEAR TIGHT FITTING SYNTHETIC GARMENTS, you will feel like a wet mess for sure!

Wear loose fitting sleeves made of natural fibres like cotton, bamboo or linen so your underarms can breathe during the transition.

Think of it this way, when you change your skin care regime, you often will be told by an aesthetician that your skin may break-out.  Changing products under your arms will also cause some chaos. So preparing for this will definitely change the experience and possibly the outcome of your new product.


dropping essential oils in hands by christin hume




Unless you already know if you have an underarm sensitivity to an ingredient, the only way you will know is to use the product. Patch testing a deodorant on your hand or arm will not work as the skin under your arm is a different country. It is a damp and dark country and ingredients in a damp enclosed areas will respond differently than on surface skin.

If you know that your skin is highly sensitive watch out for these ingredients at high levels: 

Baking soda – if it is in the first or second line of ingredients, you could have a problem as approximately 20% of consumers do.

High levels of essential oils (in the first or second line of the ingredient list) as some companies use essential oils to deal with odor instead of proper active ingredients intended to combat odor.



At kaia naturals, we take pride in being transparent with our consumers. We want to ensure that you are aware there may be a 2 to 4 week transition period when switching from antiperspirant to natural deodorant.  Trust us, it’s worth it.



Week 1:  All is good, the product is working just fine.

Week 2:  This is when the trouble starts, as this is when the bacterial communities recolonize the armpits as a result of the change. This is the timeframe where most people throw the deodorant out because they have no idea what is happening under their arm and they assume the product is not working.

Yes, you will notice more sweating during this week. Don’t panic either, reapply your deodorant or you could try showering with an antibacterial soap in the morning before you apply your deodorant to help combat this symptom. We discovered this problem when we developed our deodorant, so we launched a natural antibacterial bar to help people who wanted to ensure that they were not uncomfortable during this part of the transition.

Week 3: Things will start to normalize (for most people). This week may have a little bit of ups and downs with the bacteria under the arm, but hang in as the end is in sight.

Week 4: You should almost feel normal by now, but you may have a day here and there that you worry. In a short period of time you will forget that you even used antiperspirant.



charcoal natural deodorant by kaia naturals


At kaia naturals, our charcoal detox deodorants are 99% natural, aluminum-free and cruelty-free. If you want to give ours a try, USE CODE: TAKESUMI for 15% off your first order.

(Offer valid for new customers only; limit one per customer. Can’t be combined with other offers.)


charcoal deodorant

nordic frost

charcoal deodorant

sakura blossom

discovery set

6 x charcoal deodorants

How to Use Apple Cider Vinegar for Body Odor

How to Use Apple Cider Vinegar for Body Odor

For years, I have raved about drinking apple cider vinegar shots every morning. Not only does it help control my sugar cravings and ease digestion, but I find it also helps boosts my immune system. This past winter where 90% of my team came down with the flu and germs were flying everywhere in the air, I did not get sick once. I actually believe it was thanks to my daily immunity boosts from ACV.

Why I love apple cider vinegar even more is because not only is it a powerful detox ingredient for our bodies, but it’s also very effective at neutralizing odor-causing bacteria on the skin.


How Does ACV Work?


If you’ve ever sniffed apple cider vinegar, you know it’s not the best smelling thing out there. I’ve heard many of my family and friends say that it smells like feet… Ok now, it does NOT smell like feet and although it does smell strange at first, you do get used to the smell and taste fairly quickly.  

Side note: If you’re struggling to drink ACV, here’s my tried-and-tested tip on making ACV taste delicious:

Add 1 tablespoon of ACV into ¼ cup of organic lime juice (I bought a bottle at Whole Foods), and ¼ cup of water. The lime juice helps to hide the ACV taste and I also have no time to cut limes and squeeze them in the morning, so store-bought lime juice works even better for me!

That unique smell of ACV comes from acetic acid. Acetic acid and other organic acids found in ACV are responsible for killing bacteria. It works by passing through into the bacteria’s cell membranes and neutralizing it.


grocery shelf of apple cider vinegar - kaia naturals

Photo by Daria Vokova.


It’s like Natural Clorox for Your Body

A study conducted by the Middlesex University London in the UK, tested different bacteria strains in petri dishes with apple cider vinegar and cultured them together at 37 degrees celsius for a 24 hour period.

The results showed that ACV reduced bacterial growth and eliminated bacteria types such as E. coli, C. albicans (which includes Corynebacteria, the type of bacteria that causes body odor) and S. aureus.

This means that apple cider vinegar has the ability to eliminate odor-causing bacteria and create an inhospitable environment for bacteria to grow when applied on the skin. The best part is that unlike Clorox bleach which is highly toxic, apple cider vinegar is 100% natural and safe for humans.

Individuals suffering from excess body odor would be able to reap the antibacterial and deodorizing benefits of apple cider vinegar.


Photo by Kyle Smith.


3 Ways to Use Apple Cider Vinegar on Your Armpits


Body Odor Eliminator

ACV’s antibacterial properties will prevent bacteria from growing on your skin and will neutralize any odor-causing bacteria, keeping you smelling clean and fresh. If you’re doing an armpit detox or are naturally a smellier person, try using apple cider vinegar to get rid of body odor in your shower routine.

What to do: Use a natural antibacterial bar soap formulated with apple cider vinegar in the shower like the underarm bar, or apply ACV onto a cotton pad and gently swipe onto armpits.


Lighten Dark Armpits

ACV helps to regulate the skin’s pH balance and gently exfoliates away dead skin cells, which works to gradually lighten dark armpits.

What to do:  Mix equal parts water and ACV in a bowl. Soak 2 cotton pads and apply onto each underarm like a sheet mask. Leave on for 15-20 minutes, then rinse with water water.


Armpit Detox

During the transition from antiperspirant to natural deodorant, try an armpit detox mask to help expedite the stages of detox and to pull toxins and aluminum chloride from your pores..

What to do: Mix 1 tablespoon of bentonite clay (I recommend the Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay)  with ½ tablespoon ACV until it becomes a paste. Apply onto clean armpits and leave on 15-20 minutes or until dry. Rinse off and pat dry.



Experience the detoxifying and deodorizing properties of apple cider vinegar with the underarm bar. Formulated with activated charcoal and apple cider vinegar, this 100% natural bar soap works to transform any natural deodorant into extra-strength protection by eliminating odor-causing bacteria.

shop the underarm bar