How I Tackle Smelly Underarms While Battling HS
Last updated: April 2023
I have a confession: that offensive smell of body odor used to be me! I have a long dark history with using deodorant and for that reason, I steered clear of many popular formulas because they reacted poorly with my sensitive skin. For the most part, I decided I had to suck it up and be brave while going deodorant free because I just could not bring myself to sacrifice my skin for those around me. Thankfully, I have found a deodorant formula that works great for me and maybe it will work for you too.
I couldn't leave my armpits wet
After a long hot day in the sun, the blow-dryer used to be my best friend. Even after taking a shower, you could probably find me with my arms held straight up towards the sky and the blow-dryer placed near my underarms in search of dry skin. I knew that leaving my underarms moist was just asking for a new flare that was likely going to be more painful than the last. Once my underarms dried, I was always careful to avoid applying deodorant to any open wounds which meant most days I simply went without.
As you can imagine, going without deodorant on a blazing South Carolina summer day was a recipe for disaster in terms of smelling fresh and feeling protected from the onset of body odor. My newfound passion for living a greener lifestyle led me to vegan deodorant formulas that are aluminum-free and good for the skin too. While I still go without deodorant when I have open wounds, I am more likely to wear deodorant the vast majority of the time and I can appreciate feeling fresh like never before.
The effects of sweat on hidradenitis suppurativa
Hidradenitis Suppurativa is a chronic inflammatory skin disease that affects areas with apocrine sweat glands. While aspects of HS are still misunderstood by medical professionals, it is largely thought to stem from a blockage of the hair follicles on the skin. This may be caused by sweat or sebum secreted from the sebaceous glands. A moist underarm produces the perfect environment for germs to multiply which can cause increased inflammation and infection. While I can’t control any of the possible sweat blockages inside of my body, I do take precautionary measures to ensure I am not adding to the moisture under my arms.
I have tried so many types of natural deodorants in an effort to feel normal and remain fresh throughout the day. I had my first run-in with a popular natural deodorant that contains baking soda in college. I learned that I am sensitive to baking soda as I watched the skin under my arms peel as a result of using this deodorant. Over time, I have tried other formulas and I have realized that most stick deodorants do not work for me because they are uncomfortable to apply. Having active boils under my arms made the typical deodorant application extremely painful in fact, and prompted me to try spray-on varieties. While spray-on deodorants eliminated physical discomfort, they, unfortunately, left my underarms moist for a little too long which I feel aided in my flares.
Finding a deodorant that works for me
My favorite deodorant is from The Speak Collective. The key ingredients in their deodorant are arrowroot powder, kaolin clay, and magnesium. The combination of these ingredients makes for a gentle application to my underarm and gives an instantly dry feel that lasts even throughout any vigorous activity.
Regardless of what deodorant formula you choose, know that there are options that exist to meet your needs. Key things to look for are formulas that are aluminum-free, baking soda free, and made for sensitive skin. Other options to consider are fragrances used and whether you want a fragrance free formula.
When you need to vent about HS, who do you turn to first?