If You Notice A Nail Polish Smell From Your Armpits, Call Your Doctor Immediately

by Rebecca Endicott
Becca is a writer and aspirational dog owner living in NYC.

There are certain areas of the body that, given the choice, we might rather not investigate. The armpits definitely qualify.

Still, so many warning signs from your armpits are incredibly important to your health. Your armpits are among the first to know about hormonal imbalances and other irregularities in your body chemistry.

That’s why we all need to learn to closely monitor armpit red flags, and learn to interpret what they mean.

It may be a smelly task, but someone has got to do it!

Besides, that icky pit stench might be an important symptom. Your body often communicates via unexpected and subtle signs.

Smells, textures, sweat, and strange sensations from your pits can all be red flags of bigger and more pressing health problems.

Fortunately, it’s pretty easy to learn to identify situations in which your pits might be trying to tell you something.

When in doubt, your doctor can help with additional advice.

In the meantime, scroll through below to learn which weird warning signs from your armpits you should never ignore!

What Do Your Armpits Do?

rashes in armpits
Morgan Swofford for LittleThings

The armpit, known scientifically as the axilla, is a hollow under the arm, tucked underneath the spot where your shoulder meets your torso.

These pits are an anatomical inevitability because of the shape of our bodies, but they also serve an important purpose.

The delicate skin inside the armpits excretes a lot of our body’s sweat.

The armpit is also a focal point for the lymphatic system, and a major growth area for body hair.

Underarm hair collects pheromones, which are chemicals that help attract a mate.

In short, underarms might seem silly and gross, but they do a lot of important stuff for the body. That’s why we have to keep an eye out for them!

What Is Your Armpit Trying To Say To You?
#1: Persistent Itching

rashes in armpits
Morgan Swofford for LittleThings

If you notice that your pits just will not stop itching, you should take a closer look at the situation.

Itchy pits might indicate that you have irritated the skin. Likely culprits include razor rash from a close shave, or allergic reaction to a new deodorant or shaving cream.

Itching can also mean that a fungus or bacterial infection has set up shop in the warm, moist hollow.

If you have dense red splotches, itching, and possibly some whiteish-yellow overgrowth, you need to go to your primary care doctor, and possibly to a dermatologist as well.

#2: Extreme Odor

rashes in armpits
Morgan Swofford for LittleThings

Everybody gets body odor; it’s natural. What happens is that sweat builds up in the folds of skin, then bacteria starts to grow and multiply. Scrub your pits and it should go away.

But when is odor more than just odor?

Sometimes, extremely pungent body odor that comes on out of the blue signals a thyroid issue, sometimes a hormonal shift. No matter what, it’s worth a doctor’s opinion.

You should also pay attention to BO that has a sharp, sweet chemical tang to it, like rotting fruit or nail polish.

That scent is a sign of ketoacidosis, which indicates that your body isn’t breaking down sugar correctly.

This smell can indicate you have symptoms of diabetes or pre-diabetes, and warrants immediate medical attention.

#3: Lumps

rashes in armpits
Morgan Swofford for LittleThings

Lumps can be alarming, but you should take a deep breath before panicking over a lump in your pit.

We mentioned earlier that armpits are a hot spot for the lymphatic system. The whole area is packed full of tiny lymph nodes that aren’t noticeable, at least until they swell up.

Swollen lymph nodes can indicate that you are about to get sick, or that your body is fighting off a bug.

Lymph nodes that stay swollen for more than a week and lumps that don’t disappear on their own can be signs of serious conditions, including serious infections, or even some cancers.

#4: Rash

rashes in armpits
Morgan Swofford for LittleThings

The last thing you want to find in your armpit is a big, noticeable rash.

Unfortunately, armpits are especially prone to rash because they are damp, warm spaces.

Yeast infections can take root in your underarms, but it’s important to watch out for any kind of itching, redness, scaling, or bumps.

Beyond fungus, allergic reactions, excessive heat, sweating, and even chafing can cause underarm rash.

All rashes require treatment of some kind. If an over-the-counter cream doesn’t cut it, you may need to go to a dermatologist for more heavy-duty treatment.

#5: Pain Under Arm

rashes in armpits
Morgan Swofford for LittleThings

You might experience lots of different kinds of pain in your armpits. The most likely source is muscle pain.

If you’ve been putting pressure on your arms (lifting something heavy, downward dog in yoga) you might feel it the next day in the muscles under your arms and across your chest. This usually goes away on its own.

However, lingering pain and tenderness in the underarm area should be closely monitored by a doctor, because it could be linked to swollen lymph nodes or other inflammation in the area.

#6: Excessive Sweating

rashes in armpits
Morgan Swofford for LittleThings

It’s normal to sweat a lot when you exercise, but you should be wary of excessive sweating that happens on an ordinary day.

Sweating excessively when you’re just sitting or walking at a measured pace isn’t normal; it’s actually called hyperhidrosis and it can be a symptom of some serious medical conditions.

This symptom might also show up as night sweats. If you’re soaking through your jammies at night, you should talk to your doctor about your hormone levels, because it can indicate that you’re going through the first stages of menopause.

No matter what, you need to work with a doctor to figure out what’s causing your excessive sweating.

What Should You Do About Armpit Trouble?

rashes in armpits
Morgan Swofford for LittleThings

When in doubt, call your primary care physician.

Your doctor can run blood work and other tests to make sure you aren’t showing abnormal levels of nutrients, hormones, or other chemicals that are key to good health.

Your PCP may also recommend a dermatologist, or help you find over-the-counter products that can help with your symptoms.

Be sure to SHARE this article and tag friends who might be interested to know the fascinating ins and outs of the armpits!