Ringworm in the armpit or armpit fungus is caused by the family of dermatophyte fungi such as Trichophyton, Microsporum, and Epidermophyton. These thrive on keratin of the hair and stratum corneum of the skin in the armpits. The armpits are also naturally moist places having continuous supply of sweat or perspiration. As a result, armpit ringworm (also called Tinea Axillaris) is quite difficult to get rid of.
Let us study Tinea Axillaris or ringworm of the armpits in detail.
Causes of armpit fungal rashes
Armpit fungal rashes, as stated above, usually stem from fungi such as the dermatophytes or yeast/ candida. The main difference between Candida and ringworm in armpits is the causative agents. Candida rashes in armpit are caused by yeast while ringworm in the armpits is caused by tinea agents or dermatophytes. However; the same medicines can be used for treating both types of fungal armpit rashes.
People having an excessive tendency of sweating (hyperhydrosis) are more likely to suffer from armpit fungus. Also, people using deodorants excessively can develop a rash in this region. Some other causes of fungal rashes in the armpits include contact with other Tinea sufferers, as this infection is contagious in nature. Also, tinea or ringworm on other bodyparts can spread to the armpit regions as well.
Patients with various vitamin deficiencies and/or Celiac disease are more likely to develop armpit fungus due to compromised immune system.
Signs and symptoms of Armpit ringworm
Armpit ringworm rashes are characterized by the following:
- Itching, burning and redness
- Dry scaly skin with circular lesions. The centre of the rash is devoid of scaling and shows broken hair shafts with clear skin surrounded by the raised, scaly, itchy and inflamed skin.
- The skin might shed causing dandruff like flakes on the clothes.
- There may be darkening of the skin.
- There may be foul odor emanating from the armpits fungal rash.
As with other ringworm infections, Tinea Axillaris can spread to other parts of the skin if not treated immediately.
Treatment for Ringworm of the armpits
Topical antifungal medicines are generally the first line of treatment for Tinea infections in the armpits.
- Creams– These are not as effective as skin ointments for treating armpit ringworm but can be used for the early stages of the infection. Creams containing Clotrimazole, econazole, Ketoconazole or imidazole derivatives are active against many fungal derivatives including dermatophytes and Candida/yeast. If the rash is extremely itchy and irritating, you could also apply over the counter 1% hydrocortisone cream.
- Lotions– Lotions are generally diluted form of creams mentioned above.
- Ointments containing azole antifungals exert antifungal activity and are generally the best ways of delivering the drug to the skin to provide a barrier.
- Solutions– Solutions are excellent for treating ringworm infections in all those body parts having good quantity of hair. Thus, solutions containing Ketoconazole can be used on the scalp, groin, and armpit region. These may or may not be alcohol based.
- Powders– These are popular remedies for treating ringworm in the armpits however they are not the most effective. This is due to the fact that powders are not absorbed by the skin. They are, however, rather effective in preventing Tinea pedis and tinea cruris infections.
If, despite using the topical medicines on your fungal armpit rash, you do not see any improvement, it is best to consult a dermatologist immediately. You might need prescription oral antifungal medicines along with stronger topical medicines for resolving the rash.
Preventing Ringworm in the armpit
Here are some preventive steps for avoiding armpit fungal rashes
- Avoid wearing tight clothing made from artificial fibres. It is best to air out and dry the area by wearing sleeveless cotton T-shirts when possible.
- Avoid using harsh deodorants containing chemicals that can further aggravate the skin.
- Wash all clothing in hot water to kill the fungal spores.
- Do not share personal items like razors, undergarments or clothes with others as this could spread the fungal spores.
- Avoid shaving the armpit hair until the rash has healed completely. This is because, hair follicles can get ingrown due to shaving leading to other infections like folliculitis.
- Practice good hygiene habits like showering daily, especially after playing contact sports like wrestling etc. Use antifungal ringworm soaps, shampoos etc while bathing to treat and prevent armpit ringworm rashes.
- Avoid scratching the area as this could spread the fungal spores from the armpits to other healthy areas of the skin. For itchiness, you can use Hydrocortisone cream or even pure coconut oil which is known for antifungal and antimicrobial properties.its
- Drink plenty of fluids and talk to your doctor if a multi vitamin-mineral supplement can help improve your immune function. This is an important part of preventing ringworm in the armpit.
These are some remedies and preventive measures to avoid ringworm in the armpits.