a woman's armpit

Q. I have been allergic to some metals since I had my ears pierced years ago. One of the metals is aluminum. When I used antiperspirants, they caused terrible itching in my armpits. Even if I used deodorants without aluminum, the itching would continue for months until the aluminum worked out of my body.

I tried a natural crystal deodorant and was very pleased, since it seemed to act as an antiperspirant as well as a deodorant. I thought the continued itching was just part of working the old aluminum out of my body. But I used the crystal deodorant for over a year, with the itching continuing and not letting up.

Then on this website, I read that I was still applying aluminum on my body with the crystal deodorant. I stopped the crystal deodorant and bought another over the counter deodorant without alum.

The itching finally stopped, and I am now itch free. So I know that I am no longer applying aluminum to my body.

A. Some people do find that aluminum compounds irritate the delicate skin of the armpits. Others are concerned about research suggesting that aluminum in antiperspirants is absorbed through the skin and may increase the risk of breast cancer (Breast Cancer Research, 2009). Since aluminum is a neurotoxin, there is also concern that cumulative exposure may compromise the brain and increase the chance of developing dementia. This question is still quite controversial, although there is increasing scientific support for it (Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, Jan. 1, 2014).

As the weather turns hot, the use of some odor control becomes more pressing. What are the alternatives to antiperspirants that contain aluminum? (They all do.)

People’s Pharmacy visitors have offered a number of solutions, from spraying on witch hazel or white vinegar to dusting the armpits with baking soda. Others have wiped their underarms with vodka or rubbing alcohol.

Several years ago, we received an unusual suggestion for underarm odor:

“I want to share a remedy I learned about when traveling in Brazil. Just apply milk of magnesia to your armpits. It is the best underarm deodorant!”

 We did try this remedy and found that it works very well. As a consequence, we developed a non-aluminum deodorant (NOT an antiperspirant–it controls odor but not sweat) with a milk of magnesia base. Why not check it out now and stock up for the summer? Just look for the MoM deodorant in our People’s Pharmacy storealuminum-free  and fragrance-free and aluminum free women’s fragrance. Don’t irritate your armpits or endanger your brain!

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  1. DB

    Aluminum Chlorhydrate present in many underarm deoderants causes my short term memory to be flaky. I proved it to myself by using and not using it before I heard of Aluminum Chlorhydrate being in the products; the results of bad short-term memory were quite dramatic…I could not hold a fact for long enough to walk across a room.

  2. Kiwi

    I like the idea of I part vinegar and I part water to apply under the armpits (as stated by Russ) but I don’t know what a j-cloth is. Please explain. Thanks.

  3. Russ1a

    I believe in KISS, so here is what works for me as a deodorant, which I only apply every four days or even less frequently. The solution of white vinegar, diluted 1 to 1 with water, applied with a small piece of j-cloth (which I store in a small plastic bag between uses) works, as near as I can figure, by greatly reducing the odor causing bacteria (which I believe are alkaline loving) due to the vinegar’s high acid level. The cost of the vinegar used is only pennies. A liter of vinegar would last me probably 3 years.
    Giving credit where credit is due, I heard about using vinegar as a deodorant on The People’s Pharmacy.
    Sincerely, Russ

  4. sw

    I have had antiperspirant itching and irritation for years and number of years ago I tried taking clove oil and a carrier oil (I use argon) and put on a drop each day.
    I love the smell of cloves and it really works. The am’t of each will depend on your tolerance. I used to just spray some olive oil on counter and add a drop to it.
    Finally I got a bottle of stuff tog for me.

  5. reneejt

    I have been using the People’s Pharmacy MOM deodorant for over a year now & although I sweat, I do not have much of an odor & I am not allergic to the ingredients in it. So far so good! I just wish I wouldn’t have to order it every time. I would like to be able to purchase it OTC where I live.

  6. KDelphi

    Well, all anti-perspirants use aluminum (that is what makes them work) All the suggestions given to me either have aluminum (which breaks me out) or triclosan (which breaks me out) so I give up and will just shower several times a day in the summer–I don’t know what else to do…am very upset about this, as, after one day with “just deodorant”—I smell (well, I smell it anyway) I, for one, wish they hadn’t invented the aluminum anti perspirants….our parents got by without them, just fine…now, ppl think that if you sweat, you are not clean (sorry to say, the MOM seems to do nothing for me–I cannot imagine putting witch hazel or rubbing alcohol on my pits—owww!! someone else mentioned listerine…my pits must be very sensitive, I cannot imagine that!)

  7. ladyliza

    I also cooked in aluminum pots for years. I had concerns over this and asked my doc to test me. The results are scary. So now I am busy detoxing. I use vodka for deodorant, and my have new pots and pans.

    • Nate

      Use a stainless steel bar under your armpits in the shower, this is chemical free and works well for hours and hours. you can buy they on Amazon.

  8. Hal

    You mentioned above, “As the weather turns hot, the use of some odor control becomes more pressing. What are the alternatives to antiperspirants that contain aluminum? (They all do.)”.
    In all fairness here, you are likely misleading folks, even though your statement “(They all do.)” is technically correct. There are deodorants beau coup WITHOUT aluminum, and many of these may work virtually as well as “anti-persperants”. Some, are loaded with gentle, soothing herbs – even for their scent – and for me, work even better.
    People’s Pharmacy response: You are absolutely correct. There are plenty of deodorants that work to control odor without aluminum. Some people have never thought about the difference between deodorants and antiperspirants, and may not notice which they are buying.

  9. Dori

    I, too, cannot use commercial deodorants for the same reason; I break out in a terribly unconformable itchy rash. I found that washing thoroughly every morning without soap in the underarm area until it smells squeaky clean, and then after drying thoroughly I apply a bit of coconut oil. It keeps my skin soft and works well as a deodorant because of it’s anti-bacterial action.

  10. CDM

    Due to itching from regular antiperspirants I have now found a natural home made one that works great. Coconut oil, baking soda, tea tree oil, cornstarch mixture. Look online for various combinations. Only drawback is the coconut oil becomes a liquid during the hot months and therefore is a bit messy to apply.

  11. edna

    I stopped using commercial deodorants years ago. I make my own of equal parts of baking soda, corn starch (scented or plain) and lavender oil (high grade). It works so well! I apply with an old or new make up brush. Seems to last all day & I live in a hot climate too!

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