Do You Have Deodorant Allergies? Maybe, Maybe Not…

Sharanjit Deol

Posted on May 28 2020

Do You Have Deodorant Allergies? Maybe, Maybe Not…

Itching, rashes, discoloration: these are some of the unpleasant side effects that may occur as a result of deodorant use. 

The worst part is: in an effort to stop sweating, or the complexity of switching brands, you keep using it. Only to find the irritation subsides, or you get used to it. Making you wonder if it’s even as much as a problem as it first seemed.

There is a chicken-and-the-egg scenario at work here that raises a question: is it deodorant causing this irritation or was the irritation present before the use of deodorant? It can go either way. 

Deodorant allergies do exist and they may stem from chemical sensitivity. However, the use of deodorant can trigger irritation that was caused by something else, such as shaving or pre-existing skin conditions. 

This post will take a look at deodorant allergies and other forms of irritation, and how you can determine and treat their causes. 

Deodorant Allergies & Intolerances

Yes, certain compounds in deodorants can cause allergic reactions. 

These compounds typically can be “fragrances”, essential oils or synthetic ingredients that give deodorants their scents. Even baking soda can be an offending substance that causes problems for people with pH imbalances. 

The result is a barrage of classic symptoms ranging from redness and itching to skin flaking and scaly patches. 

The good news, of course, is that these symptoms will disappear if the affected person discontinues use. Advice that’s even listed on the package if irritation occurs. 

There is also a deodorant intolerance. It’s not a full-blown allergy per se, but rather, a milder sensitivity to a strong compound (alcohol being a common offender). The symptoms may include dryness, redness and milder allergy-like symptoms. These symptoms can also disappear once the person stops using the deodorant. 

Deodorant Irritation in Pre-Existing Conditions

Now here’s where things can get confusing. Deodorants can cause irritation without a “key” ingredient causing an allergy or intolerance. How? 

The cause is likely underlying skin irritation or damage. When you roll a stick of deodorant over an irritated armpit, a series of unpleasant symptoms may start to appear. 

Causes & Examples of Pre-Existing Skin Irritation

  • Razor burn - Razor burn usually occurs when your skin lacks moisture or if the razor you’re using is too abrasive for your skin texture. Razors with five or six blades can strip away too much of your natural dead skin layers, leading to the small pink or raised bumps that are frustratingly itchy. 

  • Ingrown hairs - Although more common in the bikini areas, ingrown hairs can cause irritation once deodorant is applied over them. They’re usually problematic for women of colour since people with darker skin tones tend to have a curlier hair texture (which is more likely to grow inwards). They produce bumps that are sore or tender and which feel worse after deodorant use. 

  • Skin disorders - Pre-existing skin conditions such as eczema can lead to redness, itching and scaly skin. Even when symptoms are not very active, these disorders can create skin sensitivity to deodorant ingredients. 

  • It’s not uncommon for these already-present conditions to start around the same time you start using a new deodorant. 

    If that’s the case, it might be hard to tell if your irritation is from deodorant allergies or a genuine skin problem. Fortunately, getting to the root of the cause doesn’t have to feel like solving a mystery. 

    The Verdict - Do You Have Deodorant Allergies or a Skin Problem? 

    There are a few ways to determine whether your irritation is deodorant-triggered or the result of a bodily issue. The easiest way to figure out the cause is by a process of elimination. 

    Of course, you might still need to visit a doctor or dermatologist if the irritation is severe. But a simple change in routine may provide you with some much-needed relief. 

    Process of Elimination 

    1. Stop using your current brand of deodorant
    2. Switch to a natural fragrance in the meantime
    3. Pay attention to your armpits: if the irritation fades away, then you are likely sensitive to an ingredient in that particular deodorant (STOP here if that’s you!)
    4. If the irritation persists, pay attention to other symptoms such as bumps, swelling or itchiness
    5. Continue avoiding your usual deodorant
    6. Start moisturizing your armpits and switch to a softer blade if you haven’t done so already
    7. If the irritation fades away, then the issue may likely be due to your shaving/skincare habits
    8. You can re-introduce your old deodorant to conduct a final test
    9. If the irritation returns as quickly as it started, then your deodorant is likely the cause: if it doesn’t come back, then the problem was likely a grooming issue

    Now, what if none of this works? 

    If you get rid of the deodorant and change your grooming habits, but still have bumps, redness or itchiness, it’s time to…

    Seek Professional Guidance 

    1. First and foremost, make a note of all your symptoms
    2. Wash your armpits but be gentle with shaving and fragrances
    3. Use a medicating cream or gel if the irritation is substantial 
    4. Monitor the irritation to see if it fades, remains or worsens
    5. Go to a doctor or dermatologist if it persists or gets worse 

    A pesky, unshakeable irritation may be the sign of an underlying skin condition or something more serious. That’s why you shouldn’t let too much time pass if you notice the irritation doesn’t disappear with basic home care.

    Here’s a motto to follow: if it doesn’t go, you gotta let the doctor know! 

    Solve the Mystery (& Misery) of Deodorant Irritation

    At some point, many of us will likely experience some kind of irritation due to deodorant use. 

    It’s unpleasant to have your shirt rubbing against tender armpits for hours on end, but getting to the root cause doesn’t have to feel like an ordeal. 

    Simply changing your deodorant and razor may bring you fast relief. Of course, a visit to a doctor in persistent cases may likely point you to an answer and a solution. Ultimately, if you address this sooner rather than later, you can soon get back to thinking about the important stuff instead of tender and irritated armpits. 

    Are you looking for a natural deodorant free of harsh chemicals?

    Take a look at our Joban Beauty deodorant, a natural alternative that also acts as a concealer against armpit darkness.

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