Pit stains – The yellow (or sometimes brown) marks in the armpits of your shirts. You’ve seen them. You’ve smelled them. You’ve probably had them. When coming in contact with them, the initial thought for many is that they’re a sign of poor hygiene. Either the person hasn’t showered (properly) or is wearing a garment that wasn’t washed (properly). It’s easy to blame the person because we’ve been programmed to believe that any sign of odor or staining is typically a sign of lackluster effort. But, what if you found out that pit stains indicate the presence of a potentially dangerous ingredient in one of your body care products? Well…it does!
What is it?
An active ingredient known as an aluminum compound (aluminum chlorohydrate, aluminum hydroxybromid, aluminum zirconium tricholorohydrex glycine [not all are listed]) found in some deodorants, specifically antiperspirants.
How does it work?
The compound contains ions that are attracted to the epidermis where they cause cells to swell with water, blocking sweat gland ducts from expelling (all) sweat. Thus, the label of “antiperspirant” and promises of “sweat blocking” and “odor prevention”.
How does it help cause pit stains?
A chemical reaction in occurs when aluminum compounds mix with the urea in your sweat. This reaction creates a build up that results in pit stains.
Is it harmful?
This question is commonly asked but has yet to receive a definitive answer. Based upon some studies where aluminum was found in diseased tissue, there have been many suggestions and leanings toward the notion that aluminum compounds can cause serious health issues (see below). More tests with consistent conclusions are needed to firmly declare a direct link between disease and aluminum compounds.
- Breast Cancer
- Liver Failure
- Hormone Disruption
- Alzheimer’s Disease
The immediate concern is the sweat blocking that is caused my antiperspirants as it inhibits the body’s ability to naturally regulate its temperature. Over time and dependent upon activity level, this may lead to serious health issues such as overheating and heat stroke.
The growth of the “green” community has led to availability of many natural and organic deodorants that are equally as effective as current mainstream brands that use synthetic ingredients. If you’re interested in trying a non-toxic “green” alternative, you find options via the results pages of after a keyword search. Speak to your physician if you have concerns or questions regarding use of antiperspirants.