Why You Shouldn’t Wear Deodorant During a Mammogram
Regular mammograms are a vital tool in the early detection of breast cancer, which is why it’s essential to keep up with your annual screenings.
When you schedule a mammogram, you’ll receive some simple directions to follow the day of your scan. One of those is always “don’t wear deodorant or antiperspirant.” Although this is a standard instruction, many women don’t understand why their health provider asks them to follow this rule.
Have you ever wondered why no deodorant for a mammogram?
Showing up to your mammogram deodorant-free may not seem like a big deal, but it can significantly impact the quality of your images and the accuracy of your results.
So how does deodorant interfere with a mammogram?
Reasons You Shouldn’t Wear Deodorant During a Mammogram
Why can’t you wear deodorant to a mammogram? One of the primary ingredients in deodorants and antiperspirants is aluminum. Aluminum is the ingredient that prevents sweat from coming up to the surface of the skin and creating those awkward underarm stains we all try to avoid. The problem is that aluminum — even in small amounts — can show up on mammograms.
If you wear deodorant for a mammogram, tiny white dots can appear on the images. These dots closely resemble calcifications, small marks that signal something going on within the breast tissue. In many cases, calcifications indicate infection, cysts, injury to the breast tissue or old age. But, sometimes calcifications can also be an early sign of breast cancer. If anything that looks like calcifications appears on your mammogram results, your doctor will order more tests to identify the source.
If those dots that show up on mammogram images come from deodorant, you’ll end up going through a bunch of unnecessary tests — and radiation — and spending a lot of time worrying about something that isn’t wrong with your body. Although the radiation from an annual mammogram is safe, undergoing additional radiation for no reason isn’t healthy.
In other words, there’s no reason to put yourself through the stress and expense of extra tests just because you wore a little bit of deodorant.
Can I Wear Natural Deodorants Instead?
Inevitably, when our patients understand why we don’t advise deodorant for a mammogram, their first question is: Can I wear natural deodorant instead?
We understand. It can be uncomfortable to go without deodorant, especially if it’s a warm day or you have other errands to run before you arrive at your appointment. Although natural deodorants don’t typically contain the aluminum found in traditional deodorants, specific brands may still leave particles or residue in the underarms that may interfere with mammogram imaging. It’s impossible to go through every ingredient in every product, so it’s better to make sure your underarms are completely clean and clear of deodorant or antiperspirant of any kind.
Can I Wear Creams, Lotions or Powders?
Knowing what happens if you wear deodorant during a mammogram is a crucial way to prepare yourself and ensure accurate results. Along with deodorant, you should also refrain from wearing creams, lotions, perfumes or powders to your mammogram appointment. Why?
1. Unknown Ingredients
Some lotions — especially ones that claim to make your skin shimmer or glow — can contain metallic particles that will interfere with your mammogram images. Other products can create small balls or particles on your skin that might not appear to be a big deal until the technologist magnifies them on an image.
It’s impossible to know all the ingredients in every kind of lotion on the market. In that case, it’s best to avoid wearing any of these products, so there’s no risk of interfering with the results of your mammogram.
2. Poor-Quality Images
The goal of a mammogram is to get as much breast tissue in the image as possible by compressing your breast between two imaging plates. If you’ve applied lotion or cream to your chest or breast area before your mammogram, your skin might be slippery. If your breast is slick from creams or lotions, it may slide on the plates before and during the imaging process. When this happens, it can result in blurry images. Even the best radiologist will have trouble accurately reading a blurry mammogram.
Deodorant and Mammogram: What Happens If I Forget?
So what happens if you forget the instructions and show up to a mammogram with deodorant on your skin?
Nothing — as long as you tell your technologist as soon as you arrive.
If you show up to your mammogram wearing deodorant, let the technologist know immediately. You won’t have to reschedule your appointment. Instead, the technologist can provide moist towelettes to clean under your arms to remove any deodorant particles before imaging. Be sure to wipe thoroughly under both arms, and each breast as well. Cleaning your skin ensures any residue that’s left from lotions, creams or deodorants won’t interfere with your imaging.
It might be tempting to rely on these wipes to clean off rather than going without deodorant at all, but we don’t recommend this. It’s a good idea to shower before going to your appointment, making sure to pay extra attention to your chest and underarms to remove any lotion, cream or deodorant residue. Once you’ve showered, avoid putting any deodorant, cream, perfume or lotion onto your clean skin.
Pay attention to the instructions you receive before your appointment to get a crisp, clear image that provides the correct information your doctor needs to monitor your health and well-being. If you’re feeling self-conscious about going without deodorant, schedule your mammogram earlier in the day. Bring your deodorant and lotions with you, tucked safely into a small bag or purse, then apply them immediately after your appointment.
Schedule a Mammogram
At Envision Imaging, our goal is to provide you with high-quality imaging and compassionate service. When you schedule a mammogram at Envision Imaging, you can expect us to use the latest imaging technology. Our world-class radiologists provide rapid, accurate results because we’re committed to helping you live a healthy life. We offer a variety of radiology procedures, including mammograms, MRI, MRA or CT scans.
If you’re due for your annual mammogram or your doctor has ordered another scan, let us walk you through the process. Our flexible hours and variety of locations mean that you can get the appointment you need when you need it.
Ready to schedule your next mammogram? Book an appointment at one of Envision Imaging’s several locations or The Women’s Center at Colorado Springs.