Self Care After Chemo Tip: Armpits

Fighting cancer is like fighting a wild fire.

If you know me, you know that I hate meds (unless absolutely necessary) and will try anything else before reaching for the meds. However, I recognize that cancer, especially the rare type that I have, requires meds. Those little damn things multiply so fast that the body’s immune system gets so taxed. It’s like trying to put out a wild fire. Fighting cancer is like fighting a wild fire. You’ll need enough fire trucks and firemen/women working together to stop the fire, like cancer, from spreading. You bring the whole fire department and in some wild fires, you need the help of multiple fire departments. A cancer patient needs to have enough cancer treatments that work together to support you from diagnosis to treatment, and managing side effects and self care to remission, detox and prevention.

Conventional or Alternative Treatments?

There are patients and doctors on both ends of the spectrum who solely believe in the conventional treatments only and those who are completely against conventional treatments and believe in alternative treatments only. I fall in the middle because unfortunately unlike other common forms of cancer (like breast, pancreatic or liver cancer), there is no known documented cases of cure by alternative treatments. The protocol for Gestational Trophoblastic Neoplasia is chemotherapy (with one or two agents), hysterectomy, or both depending on your stage and risk factor. Since the trophoblastic cells multiply so rapidly and can spread faster than wild fire, I was not about to be an experimental case, like Chris Wark ( who cured his cancer without chemotherapy. BTW, this is a great site to browse, whether you have cancer or not. There’s lots of useful info to help anyone prevent cancer and boost their health.

Being my own advocate and healer.

Since I could not find any documented or researched alternative methods for my condition (and I’m not willing to wait and see while my wild fire keeps spreading), I’ve scoured the internet for research papers, blogs, and articles and have pieced together what made sense to me in order to support my body during this time and boost it’s own natural healing mechanisms. My intent here is to share with you the things I’m doing in the next several posts.

What I share here is a completely un-scientific trial but absolutely applicable and the results have been immediate and seem very promising! You may even find these solutions applicable to you even if you don’t have cancer.

Smelly Armpits!

One of the side effects of the chemotherapy I am going through is skin toxicity: itchy and dry, acne breakouts, eczema patches and SMELLY ARMPITS. For someone who is resting and sleeping alot and not sweating during this time, there’s no reason for my pits to stink?!?!

Let’s take a look at why armpits can stink.

There are a lot of sweat glands in your armpits particularly eccrine and apocrine glands. The sweat from eccrine glands is mostly water and salt and has no odor. We can thank the eccrine glands for cooling our body. The sweat from the apocrine glands are also odorless unless it comes in contact with bacteria that is lingering under yo’ pits… then it’s causes stink!

So to avoid the stink, we use antiperspirants and deodorants to block our sweat glands and mask the odor. Makes sense right? If we don’t sweat, we won’t stink. However, did you know that antiperspirants contain aluminum and a bunch of other chemicals like phthalates, formaldehyde, parabens and pesticides that can disrupt hormones, cause cancer (especially breast cancer), Alzheimer’s, allergies, skin irritation, thyroid dysfunction, antibiotic resistant bacteria and so much more health concerns. Think about it… since there are so many glands in the armpit, they are prime entry and exit points in and out of the body. Anything you apply topically gets absorbed into your bloodstream faster than if you ate these chemicals. Another point of interest, particularly with breast cancer, is that there are lymph nodes located under your armpit. Lymph nodes are a major player in immune system function. They act as filters for foreign particles and cancer cells. An inflamed, enlarged or lumpy lymph node is often caused by cysts, infections, irritation due to shaving or using antiperspirants or can indicate a more serious underlying health issue like cancer. So you can see how applying chemical laden antiperspirants and deodorants can cause breast cancer but I digress… consult Dr. Google if you’re interested in this.

Self Care After Chemo, Tip #1: Armpit Detox

When you think mud mask, you think face right? Well, mud masks are great for armpits too. In my case, it made sense that all of a sudden I had stinky pits. All those chemicals from the chemotherapy were being excreted and with the fluctuations of my body temperature at any given point of the day, my armpits got hot. Even though I wasn’t sweating, it was humid enough to cause a stinky reaction. I’m happy that my body was doing it’s job to dispel the toxins and even though I wasn’t around others, the smell is less than desired (especially with the nausea I’ve been experiencing lol). After reading about different ways to help the body detox, I discovered armpit detoxing.

Mud masks that contain bentonite clay is very effective in drawing out or absorbing the toxins from that area as bentonite clay is known for it’s ability to absorb and remove toxins, heavy metals, impurities and chemicals. As many of you know, I am a doTERRA Wellness Advocate and love my essential oils. Lucky for me, I still had some doTERRA SPA Detoxifying Mud Mask left. It was perfect for my armpit detox. It not only contains bentonite clay but also essential oils of myrrh, juniper berry and grapefruit… all effective essential oils to cleanse, purify and pamper the skin.

It’s very easy to do an armpit detox.

Simply apply a thin layer of the the mud mask on your armpits. Might as well put it on your face, neck and décolletage area. Leave on for 5-20 minutes, depending on your comfort and skin sensitivity. Using a mud mask may cause some redness or tingling as it will increase blood-flow to the area quickly. After a comfortable time, wash off in the shower or use warm wash cloth to remove. After it’s clean moisturize it or use an essential oil infused spray to keep it clean. My favorite recipe below:

Spray Away Stinky Armpits: Essential Oil Spray

Here’s my favorite recipe to get rid of (instead of mask) the bacteria under your armpits (works in other areas of your body that are prone to smell when you sweat such as your feet)

Fill 4oz glass spray bottle with:

2 drops lemon
2 drops grapefruit
2 drops peppermint
10 drops lavender*
2 drops melaleuca**
2 drops cedarwood**
* or for a less floral aroma, use petigrain essential oil
** or 4 drops of melaleuca if you prefer
Fill the rest of bottle with 1/4 vodka and rest with purified water

Bentonite Clay Mask Recipe

If you don’t want to use the doTERRA Spa Detoxifying Mud Mask, you can make your own and add your essential oils of choice:

1 tablespoon bentonite clay (get from amazon or Whole Foods)
1 teaspoon of raw apple cider vinegar
4-6 drops of your favorite essential oils*
1-2 tsp of water (add little by little to get paste-like consistency)

Mix in glass bowl with a wooden or non-metal spoon
Spread thin layer over armpits, let sit 5-20 minutes
Wash off in the shower or with warm wet washcloth
Repeat daily or as needed until odor goes away

* I recommend adding cilantro as it has detoxifying properties. Cilantro blends well with: melaleuca, bergamot, lemon, geranium or lavender. You can use all of these in the blend or pick two combos. You can’t go wrong.

By regularly detoxing your armpits, you should notice less odor (even if you don’t wear deodorant), less irritation, less perspiration, cleaner skin (no armpit build-up or residue from antiperspirants) and improved lymphatic function… and in my case, no more chemo pits.

Remember, you don’t need to have cancer to do an armpit detox. In fact, you should do an armpit detox especially if you use commercial armpit products. Keep yo’ pits clean, yo!

What’s the saying? Birds of a feather flock together… or in this case, smelly armpits detox together 🙂

Let me know how it works for you if you try this armpit detox. Email me or leave any questions or comments. I’m happy to share what I know, what I tried, what worked and didn’t work… connecting with you, the outside world, helps pass the chemo side effects of “going bat crazy staying at home and worrying.”

2 thoughts on “Self Care After Chemo Tip: Armpits

  1. Substitute with any oil that has antibacterial property such as lemon, eucalyptus, thyme, peppermint, lavender, bergamot, or lemongrass to name a few. They are all equally effective and how you choose could be by aromatic preference 🙂

  2. Sayaka says:

    Oh how interesting! I would not have considered detoxing the armpits. I might have to try that! Good to know and thank you for sharing your recipe. Since I have a cat and melaleuca is poisonous to them, do you have a recommended substitute?

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