Yeast infections are most commonly associated with vaginas, as most women know all too well (three out of four women will experience a yeast infection in their lifetime). But most people are unaware that it’s possible to get yeast infections in their armpits ― and men and women are both susceptible.
Joshua Zeichner, the director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai who holds a doctorate in medicine, spoke with HuffPost about yeast infections in the armpits. He started with a little information about the different kinds of yeast infections and explained how people can get them.
“The yeast infection that you get under your arms is a little bit different than what you’re traditionally thinking about when women mention the word ‘yeast infection,’ because that usually refers to a vaginal yeast infection,” Zeichner said. “Yeast is a type of fungus. Candida is a type of yeast that commonly causes conditions like intertrigo, while other types of fungus cause conditions like ring worm.”
“Our body naturally has fungus that lives on us as a part of what we call the microbiome. The microbiome is the collection of bacteria and fungus that live symbiotically on our skin. Sometimes, when you have an overgrowth of yeast on the skin, that can cause very different types of rashes.”
Dandruff, and certain types of pimples you can get on your back and chest, are sometimes the result of an overgrowth of yeast on the skin, Zeichner said. But those sorts of rashes are caused by normal fungus.
“Then there are conditions that are more like superficial infections caused by fungus that’s not supposed to be there ― like the armpit issue,” he explained. “There’s a condition called intertrigo, which is inflammation and overgrowth of both yeast and bacteria, typically in areas of the skin that kind of sit on each other ― like skin folds ― so it can occur in the underarms in the armpit and usually in the groin area. You can actually get it under the breast in a woman as well ― this is the yeast infection that you’re talking about.”
A yeast infection in your armpit looks red and a little raw.
“Typically the skin looks red, it can be a little raw. What’s characteristic about these yeast infections are what we call “satellite lesions,’” Zeichner said. “You have this kind of red plaque right in the fold and then beyond that these little red dots, which kind of look like little satellites.”
It generally pops up in the summer.
″[Yeast infections] are more common in the summer months when the air is more hot and humid and moisture accumulates within the skin folds. That basically creates an environment that allows yeast to grow,” Zeichner said.
Yeast infections aren’t actually that common in the armpit.
“Yeast infections are much more common under the breast, especially in a woman who has large breasts or is a little heavier, or within the groin area,” he explained.
You can treat yeast infections in the armpits with over-the-counter cream.
“Use an anti-fungal cream, which you can buy over-the-counter. You can use a cream like Clotrimazole, which goes by the brand name Lotrimin,” Zeichner said, adding that typically it will go away in a few days. “If it’s not improving using an over-the-counter cream than you should just see a dermatologist within a week or two.”
Now you know!