You probably don’t pay too much attention to your armpits. Sure, you check on them every once in a while to shave or apply deodorant, but even that becomes a quick, routine process. As hard as it might be to believe, your armpits are one of the first body parts to show signs of a hormonal imbalance, along with other irregularities. Smells, sweat and strange sensations coming from your armpits can all be signs of a bigger health issue. Getting to know your pits a little bit better might not be such a bad idea.

Here are five health warning signs from your armpits that you need to watch out for:

1. Extreme Odor

Body odor happens to everyone. As sweat builds up in the skin, bacteria starts to grow and multiply, causing a pretty awful smell. In most cases, a good scrub in the shower should help stop the problem. But extremely pungent body odor that seems to come out of nowhere can indicate a thyroid issue or a hormonal shift. It’s worth consulting with a medical professional.

Pay attention to body odor that has a sharp, sweet smell to it, such as rotting fruit or nail polish. This scent can be a sign of ketoacidosis, which means that your body isn’t breaking down sugar the way it should be. It can indicate symptoms of diabetes or pre-diabetes. If you notice this smell, seek medical attention.


2. Persistent Itching

If you notice an underarm itching that just won’t go away, it could be an indication of irritated skin. You may have a razor rash or an allergic reaction to a new shaving cream or deodorant. Persistent itching can also be a sign of a fungus or bacterial infection. If you notice red splotches, itching and white or yellow overgrowth, check in with a health care professional.

3. Pain

If you experience underarm pain, it may be due to sore muscles. If you’ve been putting pressure on your arms through heavy lifting or exercise, you’ll most likely feel it the next day in the muscles under your arms and across your chest. Pain from sore muscles usually goes away on its own. If you have lingering pain and tenderness in your underarms, visit a doctor. It could be caused by swollen lymph nodes or inflammation in the area.

4. Rash

Your armpits are a hot spot for rashes because they are warm and damp, an environment where yeast infections prefer to grow. If you notice a rash combined with itching, redness, scaling or bumps, consult a doctor. It may be due to a yeast infection. Underarm rashes can also be caused be allergic reactions, excessive heat, sweating and chafing.

5. Lumps

Your armpits are packed with tiny lymph nodes that aren’t noticeable, unless they swell up. If you find a lump in your armpit, it may be a swollen lymph node. Swollen lymph nodes can be a sign that you’re about to get sick, or that your body is fighting an illness or infection. Lymph nodes that stay swollen for more than a week and don’t disappear on their own can be a sign of a more serious condition, including infections or even cancer. Keep an eye on the lump and make an appointment with a doctor if the swelling doesn’t go down.

Check out the video below to learn how to do a proper breast and armpit check.

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