Itchy skin can be unpleasant and troubling. And it’s worse when it develops in sensitive areas like your breasts. But don’t panic yet. Sometimes, an itchy breast could be a result of something as simple and easily resolved as wrong bra fabric or the underwires in the bra. Sometimes the latex in the bra elastic or the nickel in the clips can give you a reaction. Or it could be that the detergent or softening agent you used to wash your bra is still lingering on. See if switching to a softer fabric or a different type doesn’t solve this. Else, take a look at the 6 possible causes of itchy breasts.
1. Dry Skin
Your skin can dry out if it loses too much oil and water. This can cause symptoms like itching, flaking, and rough skin. This could happen if you’re spending a long time in the shower or bath and use hot water. Some soaps can also cause your skin to become dry.
What to do: Use a moisturizer that keeps moisture locked into your skin. Pat your skin dry after your
Eczema is a skin condition that can cause itchy, dry skin, and reddened skin, including on the breast. Though we don’t yet know exactly what causes this condition, it is thought that both genetic and environmental factors may contribute to it.
What to do: Using moisturizers can be helpful. Your doctor may also advise the use of topical corticosteroids or phototherapy where your skin is exposed to ultraviolet light. Avoiding triggers like soaps, lotions, or certain fabrics that can cause skin irritation can be useful. Managing your stress levels and substances that you’re allergic too – for instance, pollen or certain foods – can help too. And remember, scratching that itch can exacerbate your eczema.2 3
Psoriasis is a skin disorder where you experience irritation and reddening of the skin. Flaking skin is also a symptom usually associated with this condition. A particular kind of this condition known as “inverse psoriasis” develops in your skin folds – under your breasts, in your armpits, between your buttocks etc. Here, you see smooth patches of red skin without flaking. Inverse psoriasis can also lead to very sore skin.4 Experts feel that this condition may be caused by a faulty immune system response, where healthy cells are mistakenly attacked by your immune system.
Certain factors like infections (including strep throat, colds etc.), dry skin, dry air, skin injury, stress, sunlight (too much or too little of it), stress, alcohol, as well as certain medications can trigger psoriasis attacks.
What to do: Your doctor may prescribe ointments and lotions or advise phototherapy. In severe cases, medicines that work on your immune system may also be prescribed. Meanwhile, you should take
4. Yeast Infection
Candida, a yeast that lives in our bodies usually doesn’t cause any harm. However, some factors like a decrease in the “good” bacteria, which curb its growth, can cause a candida overgrowth and result in a yeast infection (also known as thrush). Yeast infections can be extremely itchy. Infections in your breast are particularly common when you’re breastfeeding since yeast flourishes on moisture and milk. Also, your baby can pass on a yeast infection when she’s feeding.
Aside from itchy skin, blisters, reddened nipples, flaking skin, shooting pains in your breast, and painful or cracked nipples are some other symptoms of a yeast infection.
What to do: Your doctor may prescribe antifungal medication to get rid of the infection. Certain hygiene measure are also important to make sure that the infection doesn’t spread:
- Wash your hands and your baby’s hands frequently.
- Sterilize clothing like towels, bras, and other
- Check other family members aren’t infected and make sure they get treated if they’ve caught the infection.6
5. Mastitis (Breast Inflammation)
Mastitis is a condition where your breast becomes inflamed and sore. This is usually seen when you’re breastfeeding and may develop when a milk duct gets blocked. According to experts, milk might then leak into tissues nearby and cause inflammation. It can also occur due to an infection. Bacteria known as Staphylococcus aureus which is normally found on your skin can enter through a crack in the skin, leading to infection and inflammation. Symptoms of mastitis can include itching, discharge from your nipple that might contain blood, redness, pain, and swelling. You could also get a temperature, the chills, or feel tired.
What to do: Do check in with your doctor if you have this condition as inflammation may lead to an abscess in your breast. Your doctor may prescribe antibiotics to deal with the
- If you’re breastfeeding continue to do so and make sure your baby is latching on properly.
- Have plenty of fluids and make sure you get sufficient rest as this can help you recover.
- Avoid tight clothes like bras until your condition improves.7 8
6. Cancer (Paget Disease)
A rare kind of cancer known as Paget disease of the breast which involves the nipple and the areola, the dark circle of skin around your nipple, can cause itching. Women with Paget disease of the breast also usually have one or more tumors inside the breast that is affected.
Other symptoms of this condition can include redness or tingling in the nipple or areola, flattening of the nipple, and a nipple discharge that may be bloody or yellow. Thickened, crusty, and flaking skin around or on the nipple can also be a
What to do: Your doctor may need to do a nipple biopsy to diagnose this condition. If you have Paget disease of the breast, treatment options include surgery to remove the whole breast (mastectomy) or breast-conserving surgery which removes the nipple and areola and follows up with radiation therapy.9
|↑1||Dry skin – self-care. National Institutes of Health.|
|↑2||Eczema. National Institutes
|↑3||Atopic eczema – Treatment. National Health Service.|
|↑4||Psoriasis. American Academy of Dermatology.|
|↑5||Psoriasis. National Institutes of Health.|
|↑6||Common breastfeeding challenges. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.|
|↑7||Mastitis. National Health Service.|
|↑8||Breast infection. National Institutes of Health.|
|↑9||Paget Disease of the Breast. National Cancer Institute.|