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It is the antiperspirant, not the deodorant, that causes skin irritation. The antiperspirant decreases sweating while the deodorant simply provides a pleasant scent to the axilla (armpit).
The active ingredient in all widely marketed antiperspirants is an aluminum salt possibly mixed with a zirconium salt. The aluminum salt is very irritating to the skin, especially in high concentration. The aluminum salt functions to decrease the release of perspiration from the armpit by coagulating protein in the apocrine and eccrine sweat glands, and it may also coagulate the stratum corneum protein lining the armpit.
More modern antiperspirant formulations minimize the irritation by incorporating dimethicone into the formulation.
For patients experiencing irritation from antiperspirant/deodorant products who wish to continue using these products, try the following:
1. Apply the antiperspirant/deodorant at night as the armpit is at rest with less sweat and thus the product will work better.
2. Apply a thin dimethicone-based moisturizer in the morning.