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"Underarm" redirects here. For the bowling style in cricket, see Underarm bowling.
Deep muscles of the chest and front of the arm, with the boundaries of the axilla.
Latin Axilla
Gray's p.585
Artery axillary artery
Vein axillary vein
Nerve axillary nerve, medial cord, posterior cord, lateral cord
Lymph axillary lymph nodes
MeSH Axilla
TA A01.1.00.021
FMA FMA:24864
Anatomical terminology

The axilla (or armpit, underarm, or oxter) is the area on the human body directly under the joint where the arm connects to the shoulder. It also provides the under-arm sweat gland.



Anatomically, the boundaries of the axilla are:

superiorly: by the outer border of first rib, superior border of scapula, and posterior border of clavicle[1]
medially: serratus anterior[2] and by the ribcage anteriorly: by the pectoralis major, minor,[3] and subclavius[2] (see also anterior axillary fold)

posteriorly: by the subscapularis above, and teres major and latissimus dorsi below[2] (see also posterior axillary fold)

laterally: by the intertubercular sulcus[3] (coracobrachialis and the short head of the biceps brachii are in the axilla.)[2]
floor/base: by the skin[1] (visible surface of armpit)

The contents of the axilla include the axillary vein and artery, as well as the brachial plexus, lymph nodes and fat. Axilla is the space between the side of the thorax and the upper arm.


Society and culture[edit]

The term "underarm" typically refers to the outer surface of the axilla. However, the terms are sometimes used interchangeably in casual contexts. Colloquially, armpit refers to the hollow beneath the junction of the arm and shoulder.[4]

The term oxter is used in the Scots language instead of "armpit".[5]

Underarm hair[edit]

Main article: Underarm hair

Underarm hair usually grows in the underarms of both females and males, beginning in adolescence.

In some modern Western cultures, it is common for women to remove underarm hair. Some view this practice as an aesthetic matter, while others consider it to be a cultural product of patriarchy. As underarm hair grows quickly, shaving must be performed frequently, or else stubble will appear in the axilla.

Throughout the feminist movement, previously in the hippie culture, and in some areas of the punk rock scene, some women choose to keep their underarm hair for a variety of reasons, from subversion to egalitarianism to comfort. Conversely, some men choose to remove their underarm hair for similar aesthetic reasons or to reduce friction in some sports, such as swimming.

Male arm pit 
Female arm pit 

Clinical significance[edit]

Axillary intertrigo[edit]

Excessive perspiration can result in axillary intertrigo. Intertrigo is an inflamed skin condition caused by heat, friction, and moisture.[6] A warm, wet armpit may accommodate the growth of pathogenic bacteria, yeasts, and fungi.[7] The condition is responsible for rash-like symptoms, pustules, or chronic itching or burning in the armpit.[6] Axillary intertrigo is common among those who work in hot environments.[7]

Additional images[edit]

Anatomy of the axilla
Superficial muscles of the chest and front of the arm. 
Axillary artery and its branches - anterior view of right upper limb and thorax. 
The veins of the right axilla, viewed from in front. 
The right brachial plexus (infraclavicular portion) in the axillary fossa; viewed from below and in front. 
The left side of the thorax. 

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Anaesthesia UK :AnaesthesiaUK: Applied anatomy for upper limb blocks". Retrieved 2007-12-23. 
  2. ^ a b c d "LAB #4 PECTORAL REGION & Introduction to the Axilla". Retrieved 2007-12-23. 
  3. ^ a b "Dissector Answers - Axilla and Arm". Archived from the original on 2007-12-10. Retrieved 2007-12-23. 
  4. ^ "Definition of armpit - Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary". Archived from the original on 15 December 2007. Retrieved 2007-12-23. 
  5. ^ "BBC - Voices - Multilingual Nation". Archived from the original on 26 December 2007. Retrieved 2007-12-23. 
  6. ^ a b Selden, Samuel, MD. Intertrigo. emedicine, WebMD. March 9, 2007. Accessed May 21, 2009.
  7. ^ a b Occupational Dermatoses - A Program for Physicians. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. April 17, 2001. Accessed May 21, 2009.

External links[edit]