Doc, why do my armpits itch?

heat rashes, itchy armpits, sweaty armpits

Itching in the armpits can be due to heat rash.

Photo credit: SHUTTERSTOCK

What you need to know:

  • Shower regularly and air-dry the armpit; use a moisturiser for the dry skin or powder to reduce the wetness from sweat; use a cool compress and eat citrus fruits and vegetables.
  • Wear loose, cotton clothing, and use essential oils like coconut, lavender or tea tree oil to reduce the itchiness.

I have been having itchy armpits and when it's hot, I scratch until I get rashes. When I sweat it hurts a lot. What can I apply or do to stop the itching? I can't even wear a sleeveless top in public or lift my hands up because I will embarrass myself. Please help.

Dear Mueni,
Itching in the armpits can be due to heat rash, sweating a lot or due to allergic or inflammatory skin conditions like eczema. It can also occur due to a fungal infection or inflammation of the sweat glands and/or the hair follicles.

It can also be triggered by use of deodorants, irritation from laundry detergents or from the fabric of your shirt.

Since the possible triggers are many, it is advisable to visit a dermatologist for examination to get a proper diagnosis and treatment.

Also, shower regularly and air-dry the armpit; use a moisturiser for the dry skin or powder to reduce the wetness from sweat; use a cool compress and eat citrus fruits and vegetables. Wear loose, cotton clothing, and use essential oils like coconut, lavender or tea tree oil to reduce the itchiness.
I have been having nausea for the past three weeks. I went for a pregnancy test and it turned out negative. What could be causing this and how do I deal with it?

Dear Marian,
Nausea is characterised by stomach discomfort and the urge to vomit. It may last a short time, come back repeatedly or last for long. It can be triggered by a number of things including certain foods or smells, gastrointestinal infection, hyperacidity, reflux, peptic ulcer disease, medications, motion sickness, overeating, emotional stress, excess alcohol consumption, food allergies, pregnancy, migraine headaches, liver disease, intestinal obstruction, pain from abdominal organs due to appendicitis, gall bladder disease, kidney stones, pancreatitis; meningitis, problems in the brain and many other causes.

It is advisable to have a comprehensive medical examination to determine the exact cause of the nausea so that you get appropriate treatment.

To prevent nausea, take small frequent meals instead of a few large ones; eat slowly; after eating make sure your keep your upper body elevated either by sitting up or standing; stay well hydrated, take water in between meals instead of during the meal, avoid intense physical activity after a heavy meal, avoid foods that are difficult to digest or that worsen the nausea such as spicy and high-fat foods or warm food (as opposed to hot or cold). When you are nauseous, you may be able to prevent vomiting by resting with your upper body elevated and taking small sips of water.
Last year I was involved in a minor road accident. My partner was slightly injured but I was unscathed. I'm now facing driving resistance behaviour even when it's a short distance drive. I lose focus and become dizzy. I appreciate your advice on what I should do to recover from this.

Dear reader,
You experienced a situation with a potential threat for serious injury for both you and your partner. This is a trauma. You have had prolonged psychological and physical reactions (dizziness, loss of focus, anxiety) to driving; plus you have been avoiding/ been resistant to driving because it is a reminder of the incident, all of which are symptoms of post-traumatic stress. It is normal to experience a negative reaction after an experienced or witnessed threat or actual harm that can cause serious injury. In most cases, we are able to adapt over time. However, sometimes the stress can affect our ability to function normally.

If you also have negative mood or thoughts since the incident, in addition to irritability, anger outbursts, hypervigilance, recklessness, sleep disturbances or poor concentration, and all these are interfering with your ability to function well in every day situations, then you may have post-traumatic stress disorder.

It is advisable for you to see a mental health professional for evaluation and psychotherapy. The main approaches that may be used are cognitive therapy (recognising and dealing with unhelpful thought patterns), relaxation techniques, and exposure therapy. Additional treatments may be used as necessary. Positive social support is also vitally important as it helps to prevent and cope with distress.
I am getting married soon and I am confused about what family planning method to take. My partner and I intend to take two years before trying to get pregnant. I have never been into any family planning method so this is novel to me. Notably, my periods are irregular. Please help.

Dear Annie,
Choosing a family planning method is very individualised because it depends on current health condition, possible health risks, lifestyle, affordability, convenience, availability, future fertility concerns, age and weight, the method’s effectiveness and potential side effects, and also acceptability to your partner. The underlying cause of the irregular periods also needs to be considered, especially if a hormonal method is chosen. 

The family planning methods you can consider include:
- Condoms, either female or male. - Daily pills. - Hormonal patch, which is placed on the body for a week then removed, and a new patch is used. - Contraceptive injections, which are given once every two or three months, depending on the specific medication
- Intra-uterine device (IUD) – the IUD is effective for three to 10 years depending on which type you choose and can be removed whenever you are ready to conceive
- Vaginal ring. - Diaphragm, cervical cap or sponge with spermicide

It is best to choose a contraceptive method in consultation with a doctor following an assessment and detailed evaluation of each method. It is also advisable for you to involve your partner in the decision making

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