Why You Get Those Armpit Bumps After Shaving

And how to get rid of them.

person with red tank top and arms raised revealing smooth armpits
Photo: J. Márquez/Stocksy

Whenever I shave my armpits, I expect to do a lot of carefree arm raising like the people in razor ads and summer stock photos. In reality, I never throw my hands up in the air or wave them because I always end up with a bunch of tiny bumps on my underarms.

While I make sure to regularly exfoliate and don't shave every day to prevent razor burn, my armpits still have a cactus-like texture that's also slightly discolored from the rest of my skin. So, what gives? I turned to board-certified dermatologist Dr. Shari Sperling to get some answers.

What Causes Bumps On Your Underarms?

It turns out how you shave is just as important as how often you do it. Dr. Sperling says that incorrect technique can cause bumps. "Many people shave against the direction of the hair for a smoother shave, but you should go with the grain, not against it to prevent irritation," she explains. Shaving with short, gentle strokes will also help.

Taking your razor to your underarms when your skin is dry can also lead to irritation. Wetting the skin with warm water will open up the pores, and applying soap or shaving gel to the area will moisturize the hair, Afterwards, Dr. Sperling suggests rinsing the skin with cool water to close the pores again. Oh, and don't forget to change your razor to make sure it's clean. Not only will a dull blade be more likely to cause irritation than a sharp one but it will also make you more prone to infection.

How Do You Get Rid of Redness?

If you experience redness in your underarm area, Dr. Sperling says cutting back to shaving just a few times a week can help calm skin. She also suggests using benzoyl peroxide on the area to reverse inflammation. Aloe vera and shea butter will also keep your freshly shaved underarms soothed and moisturized.

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What About Those Flesh-Colored Bumps?

Irritation isn't the only thing that causes uneven skin texture. Ingrown hairs can cause bumps, too. Dr. Sperling suggests using an exfoliating cleanser to shed the dead skin cells from the area and even out pores so that those ingrown hairs surface.

Ok, So What About Discoloration?

If you find that the skin under your arms is slightly darker than the rest of your body, discoloration can also be the result of inflammation. "Pigmentation happens from irritation, so if you keep rubbing and shaving it will continue or worsen," says Dr. Sperling. "Changing your shaving habits can help prevent this. You could also have a different allergy to your deodorant, soap, or shaving cream that could be contributing to this, so be sure to use products designed for sensitive skin."

Alternatives to Shaving

In case you've taken all of the preventative measures to keep razor bumps at bay, but with no luck, don't despair. When it comes to getting rid of armpit hair, shaving isn't your only option. Hair removal creams, waxing, and lasering, are just a few alternative methods you can try. It also never hurts to speak to your dermatologist who will be able to determine the right technique and/or product for you.

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