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What Is Trichomycosis Axillaris?

By Jillian O Keeffe
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Trichomycosis axillaris is a harmless overgrowth of bacteria on the hairs of the underarm. The condition produces hard nodules that stick to the hair, which are cosmetically unattractive. Antibacterial soap or shaving the hair can resolve the issue.

Corynebacterium bacteria generally cause the condition. Most of the time, Corynebacterium tenuis is the specific species involved. The bacteria grow together in a clump on the hair shaft. Trichomycosis axillaris is not dangerous in itself and is not a symptom of any serious condition.

Both men and women can have the condition. Women of many countries tend to shave under the arms, so it may be more prevalent in men in those areas for that reason. The condition can appear at any age from puberty onward. Found all over the world, trichomycosis axillaris is in countries with hot or cold climates.

Sometimes, trichomycosis axillaris simply causes the armpits to smell unpleasant, and the clumps of bacteria are not obvious. With a thorough inspection, the sufferer can see the clumps of bacterial growth on the hairs of the armpit. These can be yellow, black, or red and encircle the hair. The clump colors can also affect the color of the person's sweat and may stain the underarms of clothing.

The hair can look as if beads are present on it, or it may look thicker than normal. The clumps are most commonly yellow colored in temperate countries, although people in tropical countries may also have red or black clumps. Usually, the bacteria stay on the outside of the hair shaft, but in some rare cases, they get into the hair and destroy it.

Although the condition is harmless, the clumps can be unsightly. The simplest way to resolve the problem is to shave or cut the hairs of the armpit, thus removing the clumps of bacteria. Another way of keeping the issue under control is to use antiperspirants regularly to keep sweat production down.

Medication may also be useful to kill the bacteria. Erythromycin and clindamycin creams can help. Cleansing agents with benzoyl peroxide are another potentially useful preparation. If the sufferer can keep the underarms dry and clean, he or she can prevent the bacteria from growing out of control again.

A similar condition can also affect the hairs of the genital tract. In this case, it is called trichomycosis pubis. The genital and armpit regions are the regions generally affected because these areas are more moist than other parts of the body.

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Discussion Comments
By anon973054 — On Oct 08, 2014

I've had this problem for a long time. At first, I thought it was caused my the roll-on deodorant that I use until I found through an online search that it was an actual medical condition. I have subsequently gone on a LCHF diet (low-carb) and the condition disappeared.

By anon966070 — On Aug 16, 2014

I have had this on my testicles for many years and recently found that crystal deodorant is very effective. I haven't checked to see if it's bad for the sensitive skin with prolonged use, so that's up to you to figure out.

By anon925689 — On Jan 13, 2014

@anon337477: Very good results have been seen in breaking up and removing the Trichomycosis biofilm with the use of the Livionex Deodorant Gel, or the Livionex Dermal Lotion.

The concrete like biofilm clusters break up within a few days of application. The gel relies on breaking up the biofilm, and not upon killing any of the bacteria that comprise the biofilm. You can see the effect of the Livionex products on another biofim, namely dental plaque as well.

By anon337477 — On Jun 05, 2013

I have this problem. It has evolved to adapt to all the hairs in my body; the scalp and nerve-bearing hair (arm, legs, etc) has a thinner bio film, but it is still noticeable when in front of a light source and with good eyesight.

The pubic and armpit manifestations have more noticeable features; they are thicker and have more rigid features. The pubic hairs are especially rugged, while the armpit hairs are smoother because of abrasive interactions with adjacent hairs and skin during its long lifetime. I have only noticed this in the past year, although likely have had it for several years, in which it has had a chance to become more comfortable.

The problem is getting urgent. There are several co-workers in the building whom I suspect now have it due to second-hand interactions (no direct contact; they just touched something I did), which indicates this particular strain is resilient in non-humid environments for long enough times to have settling-potential in other people's "forests".

Hopefully, a resolution is found soon, as all the suggestions I have ever been given have failed, like benzyl peroxide and topical anti-fungals, etc., and the contagious aspect could have everyone in my local area eventually have their hair color changed involuntarily and without a resolution!

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