Under Arm Rash

I was diagnosed about 2 years ago with CLL. WBC has gone up from 45000 when first dx, now at 69000. Hemoglobin and platelets are still ok for now. I have had an issue within the last year of a few confusing symptoms. Every time I shave under my arms I get a super bad rash. I am careful and try to not put unnecessary pressure on the blade or cut myself, but each time the result is getting worse. It can take weeks to go away and then I am scared to shave again. I am also getting continual outbreaks of shingles. My doctor has me on a daily dose of medicine for this but as soon as I stop taking it I break out again. I was just wondering if anyone else is experiencing similar symptoms, and if this is something I need to worry about as a sign that the CLL is progressing. Thanks for any input. This has all been so confusing from the beginning and I really appreciate this forum for answering the weird or confusing things that are happening to us all. Thank You, Lori

Last edited by

6 Replies

  • Hi, I think you will find with shaving even with light pressure on the blade that you are creating microscopic skin abrasions which allow normal surface staphylococcal bacteria to get in and create a little site of infection. This slowly resolves by your weakened but still effective immune system. You might try an electric shaver which less likely to abrade the surface.

  • Thank you ! I will definitely try the electric razor. It gets kind of disheartening when we can't do simple grooming and body care because of this disease. I will for sure give it a try.

  • I agree with CaptRon1976. Ever since I needed to shave my face ( about 55 years ago) I've gotten bad reactions to blade shaving, I must use a good electric shaver to avoid scraping/abrading the skin.

    Also I've written several responses describing my skin problems ever since diagnosis 9 years ago, on the underside of my arms and legs. Anything that irritates or sensitizes my skin causes T cells to accumulate in my skin (Dr. Furman calls it T cell dyscrasia ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/176... ) and then I get an autoimmune reaction- rash, psoriasis. Irritants include my 4 treatments for CLL, cold dry weather, and exposure to chemicals or fungi. Steroid creams, moisturizers and photo therapy can calm the reaction to tolerable levels.


  • Thank you for the info Len. Appreciate you taking the time to help.

  • At times, I use a new disposable razor for ladies with sensitive skin and an olive oil based soap, without chemicals. I also moisturize afterwards. This has helped me as I was starting to develop a rash after shaving as well, even if I used an electric razor.

    I wonder if waxing by a licensed esthetician would be a better option for you. I have waxing done at times and it has not caused any problems with infection.

    It is very important for you to continue taking your antiviral medication on a daily basis so as not to develop shingles. Please make sure that you always have enough on hand and repeats on file at the pharmacy so as not to run out of the medication. People without CLL can also have this problem with shingles.

    Hope you will be able to resolve this problem soon.

    Sandy Beaches

  • Thank you Sandy Beaches. I appreciate the advice. It gets so frustrating not being able to do the simple things to look our best like shaving under the arms. I will look into waxing, maybe that would be a better option for me.

    And yes, I do agree I should continue to take the antiviral medication. Sometimes I forget or just don't want the upset stomach it can give. I try to stick with it and I definitely pay the price when I don't because I immediately start getting the shingles again.

    I'm hoping that these things that are happening with the under arm rash and the shingles isn't an indication that I am getting worse. I was also sick most of the winter, if I was even near someone who was sick I immediately got it too. It's just very scary dealing with a compromised immune system.

You may also like...