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Underarm Bumps caused by Antiperspirants

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Antiperspirants containing aluminum complexes can cause underarm bumps, rashes and pimple-like swellings. These compacted inflamed bumps, called cutaneous granulomas, can form in groups or be alone. They are common in people sensitive to the aluminum compounds. Aluminum compounds (like aluminum zirconium) are the active ingredients that stop sweating in antiperspirants.

Granulomas are the result of an exposure to an invasion of a foreign body. This invasion can be an organism, antigen, chemical irritant, viral infections or something else.

Consider Testing for Sensitivity

You may want to consider temporarily stopping the use of your antiperspirant if you have underarm bumps. If the reaction goes away, you are probably sensitive to the ingredients in antiperspirants. In this case, you might also want to take a minute to make sure you understand the difference between antiperspirants and deodorants.

When testing for antiperspirant sensitivity, you may want to try a sample pack of my aluminum free deodorant. I recommend my lotion-like deodorant with baking soda if you sweat a lot and tend to have strong underarm odor. If you are don’t sweat a lot or don’t have strong odor, I recommend my baking soda free roll-on deodorant.

Research confirms that aluminum compounds are the primary cause for most underarm granulomas.

It is my non-medical understanding that a reaction to antiperspirants is a type of immune response. First, we know that antiperspirants contain compounds that enter pores and expand when wet.  This action allows the compound to plug your sweat glands and prevent the perspiration from being released. Second, we also know that some people’s bodies fight anything, even if it is meant to be helpful. In this case, some people’s bodies react to the antiperspirant compounds as if they were invaders. This causes inflammation and swelling.

Just to be clear, it is my understanding that antiperspirants don’t always cause cutaneous granulomas in people, just to those who are sensitive to aluminum zirconium complexes. Some people will always remain sensitive. Other people might be temporarily sensitive due to other physical stress on their bodies. For instance, an injury or exposure to an allergy might make someone temporary react to antiperspirant components. 

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J Am Acad Dermatol

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