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What Causes "Chicken Skin" on Your Underarms and How to Deal With It

An expert weighs in.
What Causes "Chicken Skin" on Your Underarms and How to Deal With It
IMAGE Jeanne Young
An expert weighs in.

Here's the thing: having "chicken skin" on your armpits doesn't mean you have bad hygiene. In fact, someone can shower four times a day and still be prone to developing tiny bumps. So who's the real culprit behind that unwanted texture? We asked dermatologist Dr. Gaile Robredo-Vitas of BeautiqueMD to find out. See what we learned below!

THE CAUSE

According to Dr. Gaile, bumps or "chicken skin" appear when the skin with hair is pulled outwards, which is mostly due to plucking or waxing. Shaving, she explains, doesn't cause bumps but it can form small cuts or cause inflamed follicles or folliculitis. Texture may also occur when our hair follicles or pores are clogged from dry skin or using strong antiperspirants.

PREVENTION

Prevention is better than cure in the case of "chicken skin," and these are the the derm's non-negotiables:

1. Avoid plucking and waxing.

Given the reason above, these forms of hair removal are a no-go for bump-free pits. The dermatologist suggests doing laser hair removal instead, which will reduce hair growth in the area permanently.

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2. Use gentle products.

According to the derm, opt for fragrance-free antiperspirants with very few ingredients to avoid irritation. Steer clear of harsh soaps as well, as Dr. Gaile points out that these can dry out the sensitive skin on your underarms.

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TREATMENT

Already dealing with those tiny bumps? No worries. There are several ways to zap them away. "First, it is essential to stop plucking or waxing. When you do this, your underarm skin will gradually go back to its original state," explains the derm. That said, if you're after quicker results, here are the doctor's top tips:

1. Switch deodorants/antiperspirants.

You never know, but your unsuspecting deo might be the culprit. Try doing an armpit detox by switching to a gentler and more natural formula.

2. Exfoliate.

Once a week, gently exfoliate your underarms with either a loofah or a wash cloth. This can help remove the top layer of bumpy skin in the area and unplug clogged hair follicles. "Just remember that the underarm has thin skin and is sensitive. Be gentle with your exfoliation," notes Dr. Gaile. "When redness or irritation occurs, please consult your dermatologist."

3. Get an exfoliating treatment.

Speaking of your dermatologist, getting a chemical peel or a diamond peel (microdermabrasion) in their clinic can reduce texture better than your in-shower routine. It might take a few sessions before the bumps are completely removed, but patience is a virtue!

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4. Try skincare with exfoliants.

Dr. Gaile says that on top of doing peels, your dermatologist may also prescribe you moisturizers with exfoliating acids (lactic acid, glycolic acid or salicylic acid) that can help improve underarm texture.

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