How To Treat Baking Soda Burn


Baking Soda Burn has become an unexpected and painful reality for a heck of a lot of people who are simply trying to live a greener life.

Misinformation about commonly used deodorant ingredients continues to flourish, causing many to seek alternative solutions.

Unfortunately, a great number of these 'greener deodorant solutions' involve applying a chemical compound more commonly known as baking soda to the delicate skin of the armpits, causing a wide range of unfortunate reactions.


In Theory, it Sounds Like a Good Idea

The logic of reaching for baking soda is actually understandable: it is easily obtainable at any supermarket and is great for for many household uses: cleaning, spot removal, etc. How could it possibly be harmful?

What folks are overseeing in their otherwise admirable quest to go green: baking soda (or sodium bicarbonate) is a chemical compound that is not made for prolonged skin contact.

What Happens With Prolonged Skin Contact to Baking Soda

Reactions from using baking soda deodorant can be
  • discoloration (reddish, brownish or general darkening) of the skin 
  • thickening, leathery skin
  • slight rash
  • heavy, itchy rash
  • rash with painful pustules

Yikes!

Damage done. Now what?

Because so many of you have asked, I've put together a few tips for dealing with the discomfort of baking soda burn.

What To Do About Baking Soda Burn

First: Contrary to what you might have read, heard, or think, you are NOT detoxing! Your body is reacting to exposure to a chemical your skin doesn't agree with, so stop using baking soda deodorant immediately!

Depending on how bad your reaction is, consider seeing your doctor. This may sound like overkill, but some folks have written me with very serious reactions that needed immediate medical attention. If you are in even the slightest doubt – please see your doctor!

If the skin has become thick and leathery and/or discolored, but is otherwise pain-free, you can probably self treat with one or more of these methods
  • Apply cool compress
  • Apply pure aloe vera to the affected area
  • Mist aloe vera juice on the affected area
  • Wash the area gently with a colloidal oat solution
  • Apply pure coconut oil to the affected area
  • While your pits are healing, apply an acidic ingredient such as fresh lemon or apple cider vinegar (to unbroken skin!!)


I wish you a speedy recovery and happy pits!


More about Deodorant on This Blog

Why Your skin is reacting to baking soda deodorant
Deodorant FAQ
Potassium Alum: Aluminium or not?
Is your deodorant dangerous? Probably not.
How to make your own deodorant without baking soda

Comments

Grazina said…
Hi Lise, yes I'm a victim of bicarb armpits- I test most products I produce on myself before asking for volunteers, and this deo-paste formula sounded wonderful on paper, but talk about sleepless nights! Itchy, sore, swollen and BROWN! Solution as you said, cool compresses and the opposite of an alkali? Apple cider vinegar, diluted 1:1 in water 3 times a day. Took nearly a month to heal and a year later, my armpits are still just barely discoloured. I have no sensitivities on my "body" skin, as opposed to facial, so folks, DON'T use bicarb! Try diatomaceous earth(food grade) with kaolin, shea, coconut oil and Kunzea EO. It works!
Lise M Andersen said…
Hey there Grazina - thanks for sharing this! It is so disconcerting to see how many people have had to suffer baking soda burn because of misinformation. I hope your pits are soon back to their perfect normal self. :)
Anonymous said…
Thanks for the info. I'm currently suffering after trying to go "natural" and can't wait for things to get back to normal. It all started with a change of soap a month or so back, then aluminium deo was a no-no. Switched to "natural" brand currently heavily advertising on-line and they are 200% worse plus painful and swollen. Currently using my face cleanser and toner which is providing relief. In the middle of summer here at the moment with singlets and short sleeves to wear - bring on winter so I can hide them while they recover!
Lise M Andersen said…
Oh dear - thanks for sharing this Anon - I hope your pits heal quickly!
Unknown said…
Lise, thanks my aloe leaf will do just fine. I hate that so many of us are victims but aloe leaf has never steered me wrong when it comes to topical healing. Thank you for all of your efforts and your honesty.
Lise M Andersen said…
HI Unknown - Aloe leaf is indeed a gentle and soothing ingredient for rash and burns. I hope your pits heal quickly!
Anonymous said…
I wonder if the problem is the baking soda itself, or the PH level of baking soda. Baking soda is approx. 8 or 9 towards alkaline. Our skin is more acidic at 5.5. If these DIY deodorant products were PH balanced, they might not have these problems. I've balanced a recent batch (inclusive of baking soda) and seems to be just fine for me and others so far. One can use citric acid to lower PH, but I tried colloidal oatmeal (which is acidic), and seems to have worked. Has anyone else duplicated these results, or does this make sense to any science types out there?
Lise M Andersen said…
Hi Anon - balancing the pH is definitely a help. May I ask if you are using a water based solution? Interesting use of colloidal oatmeal! Thanks for your input.
Jody said…
When I use the Potassium Alum stone/stick, can I handle it with my hands or should I get one that is in a container so I don't touch it? I too am experiencing with DIY deodorant and am suffering baking soda burn, but I quit using it before it got too bad. So now I'm going to try your DIY deodorant with the potassium alum stick and want to do it right. Can you also recommend a good place to get the potassium alum stick/stone? Thanks.
Lise M Andersen said…
Hi Jody - you can handle the stone directly. These are exactly the same thing as the small stones sold with mens shaving kits to stop bleeding from shaving nicks. Where I live (Denmark) , the stones are available at drugstores and healthfood stores. They gave many common names, so look for the INCI name: potassium alum. Best of luck with your pits!
Anonymous said…
i have a question, does the rash have to be specifically on th underarms? I ask because i too have been using diy deodorant for months and broke out in an intensely itchy rash on my arms, chest, back even legs but not my underarms. Im trying to figure out what has caused it.....
Lise M Andersen said…
Hi Anon - this sounds like a pretty serious reaction and I would probably want my doctor to check it out if it were me. I've heard from some people who had quite serious reactions and ended up in hospital, so until you have a professional look at it, you can't be sure. I hope you are back to normal soon
Joan Weise said…
I am healing mine with raw honey, covered with a bandage. Beware the honey when put on with the back of a spoon will 'drag' over stubble.
Lise M Andersen said…
Hi Joan - Oh interesting! I hope this works for you. Would you mind sharing a bit more? How bad it was to begin with and how quickly it healed?
jally said…
Hi, I'm wondering how I can resolve my current complex situation. Are tears (from constant crying) similar to the underarm baking-soda situation? Because I've developed painful burn surrounding my eyes due to crying. The damage is at outer sides and under the eyes. I especially feel the burn when I'm on the computer prolongedly. The right eye is worse - feeling more like dry/rough crocodile skin. And sometimes those compromised parts appear red, like a rash. Note that overall, there's no puffiness, rather dark deep shadows under my eyes. (I don't know why some people call them rings, if they're shadows). I've already tried milk/yogurt/cukes/aloe. Also Calendula. Also grated potato. May soon try raw egg. Many parts of me are similar to geriatrics in their 90's - no exaggeration. I also have Meibomian Gland Dysfunction, as well as Bowman's Layer Dystrophy due to combo of crying, UV, and chemical outgassing from computers over the years. So many of my problems were caused by environmental stress in my life, much more so than genetics.

BTW, on the topic of baking-soda, years ago, I also had tried the misguided baking-soda deodorant advice, but I stopped upon feeling itchy. I've learned to listen to my body, after many sad experiences listening to authorities at either end of spectrum. For example, I stopped doctor's creams for poison ivy when those creams made me burn, replacing them with simple Calamine & Aveeno-anti-itch on most of my body. However, on the =worst= Ivy-Burns I used Calamine+WoundHoney. Also took a few Tepid mild bleach baths, minimizing the bleach due to stinging. And also kept gently applying some Dark-Brown/oily soap (not naphtha) which had probably been in this house since the 1960s. I've no idea what soap it was, but it was shiny/and/tacky and with its own smell (i.e. no additives).
Sass Bailey said…
Hi Lise thank you so much for your article, especially highlighting "prolonged skin contact". I've been making and using the exact same blend of equal parts coconut oil, bicarbonate soda, arrowroot powder with a few drops of essential oil eg lavender or tea tree for about 2 years and only just started getting random red itchy spots in the area around my armpit. It's really odd it's not actually the area I apply it rather, around the area (like the outer ring). I couldn't really work out why given I've been using it for so long then I stumbled upon your article and it made sense that prolonged use could have this affect. I'm going to drastically reduce the bicarbonate soda or use diatomaceous earth which I think another reader suggested. Also going to check out your bicarbonate soda free recipe! Thanks again, you're a superstar!
Lise M Andersen said…
HI Sass - Thanks for your kind words! I hope your pits are soon happy and rash free. You may find (as many do) that your sensitivity to the baking soda is more easily irritated once you have experienced a reaction.
Sass Bailey said…
Thanks Lise, that makes sense too, perhaps another build up on my body triggered a sensitive reaction to the bicarb. Shame as the mixture was so effective but thankfully there are bicarb free alternatives. Thanks again, without reading your article my armpits could have gotten a lot worse. :)
Lise M Andersen said…
Hi Jally - thanks for your input. Your rash around your eyes could very well be from crying. I hope you find a solution to the tears! It is great that you are listening to your body. It's the best way! I wish you the very best and hope you are tear-free soon.
jally said…
So what's the solution for the burny skin at my eyes?
....(btw, even the whites of my eyes get pink).

I've a hunch that many conditions are ONLY SECONDARILY GENETIC, despite the hype about genetics. For example, it could be that the minority of people who DO NOT NEED GLASSES for distance viewing when they're young - may be predisposed to macular.degeneration for exactly that reason.

In explanation:

Glasses (and contacts) tend to protect the eyes from cold wind.

So...

Imagine that hypothetically EVERYONE would wear glasses or contact-lenses, starting from when they're young. Not necessarily magnifying ones, BUT RATHER protective ones.

That would be the true acid-test of whether macular degeneration is TRULY genetic, or rather due to LACK OF PROTECTION.

Now do you see how much is subject to hype? The vast majority of doctors are so superfically arrogant - thinking they know it all - instead of deeply taking in the whole picture. It's they who have been perpetuating a failed system for the past century, refusing to acknowledge QXCI & other such quantum physics diagnostics. Leaving us victims to try as best we can to fend for ourselves. My feelings toward them can only be described as cold fury.
Giovana Carmo said…
The problem with baking soda deodorant is:
The PH of baking soda is very strong... that means it will dry out your skin(dehydration) and will eliminate odor.
If you are looking for a good natural deodorant, you will have to make sure your recipe will have a good source of moisturizer, such as, Cocoa Butter or Mango Butter or others that you might like it better.
Also remember: Aloe Vera is great for Hydration.
I do homecare products as well.
My armpits got really bad burned when I first started my trials. Now I got just the perfect match for my those problems.
My homemade recipe has Baking Soda and the results are great.
No rash, no itch, and no pain.
Lise M Andersen said…
@jally - I wish I had an answer for the itching and burning around your eyes. It does sound to me like you need to find a new doctor - one who is willing to listen and take your condition seriously. I think your theory about the protection contacts might offer is an interesting one! Best of luck to you!

@Giovana - It sounds like you have done all the necessary trials and testing to make your own perfect deodorant solution. Good for you! A lot of people might have given up. I wish you forever happy pits!
Grace Troutner said…
Hi! I just found an at-home-facial recipe for curing acne that had two parts oatmeal and one part baking soda with water as needed to make a paste. Immediately after I put it on my face starting burning. I have a big event coming up in the next week and was wondering if it would have any noticeable effects (such as redness, puffiness, or scarring) and how long it would take to heal. Any input would be very much appreciated. Thank you.
Lise M Andersen said…
Hello Grace - I truly apologize for this terribly tardy reply. Your comment managed somehow to slip between the cracks. I hope you found a speedy relief for your situation. I would have suggested to mist the area with pure aloe vera juice or apply a light layer of aloe vera gel to help soothe and calm the skin. I'd love to hear if you managed to heal quickly enough for your event.
Tina said…
Lise! Thank GOD I came across your information...I am certainly a victim..after even asking my Dr who said not to change deodorant ..I tried toms but needed help with sweating my sis in law told me baking soda and someone said to mix it with an oil so that it's not so harsh on your skin...guess I did it wrong..my pits are on fire.. embarrassed a friend in the store putting the ice cream under my arms to soothe them..they are painful and it looks blistery...help if you can....
Lise M Andersen said…
Hello Tina - Oh dear! Quickly get some cooling aloe vera on those sore pits! try and let them heal without using any deodorant on the meantime. I hope you are soon pain and rash free!
Anonymous said…
How much water do you drink? Rule of thumb is half your weight in ounces a day. Your tears may be too acidic. Do you eat a lot of red meat and pork?
Just as the baking soda is leaving an imbalance on the ourside. Your tears may be imbalanced caused by conditions on the inside. When my tears burn I try to drink more water and it clears up. I drink distilled water. I know their is a lot of info pro and con about distilled. .but hey.. nature makes it everyday with the intention of us drinking it. .
Anonymous said…
Hi Lise.. I fell victim to the baking soda burn , my armpits are red , rashy and very sore , not only did I use underr my arms I used as a feminine deodorant , well I'm sure you can imagine what happened , I'm currrently using Neosporin cream in both places to release the burning and itching , I read that using Alovera will help but not to sure about using on my private area, do you have any tips ?
Lise M Andersen said…
Hey there Anon - Ouch! That sounds seriously painful! Pure Aloe Vera is safe to use in the private area (stick to external area). Best of luck with it!
riya jeeva said…
hi lisa i used baking soda on my face and it burned very badly please suggest some remedies
Lise M Andersen said…
Hello Riya - oh dear! Do you have access to aloe vera? It is soothing and cooling and should give you some relief. I hope this helps.
Giovana Carmo said…
Natural product:
Definitely recommend aloe vera.
Pharmacy product:
Hydrocortisone.
Lise M Andersen said…
Thank you for sharing Giovana