Itchy Breast – Causes, Treatment and Prevention

It’s only when your hand is halfway to your breast that you realise you’ve got an itch; one that is potentially embarrassing to scratch. An itchy breast is something that a lot of women complain about, and it occurs occasionally for most women and if it’s a passing scratch that’s needed, it likely isn’t a cause for worry but if it’s something that persists for a while, it can not only be an uncomfortable ailment, but also one that needs to be looked into. A temporary itch can be caused by anything- the scratchy material of your outfit to the temperature outside- but the general rule of thumb must be applied when it comes to breast issues; if it persists for longer than a month, heading to your doctor might be a good idea. So if you’ve got an itch that needs scratching, this piece will (hopefully) help you figure out why, what to do, and how to make sure you don’t have to deal with it again.

Breast Itching Causes

Clothing

More often than not, the reasons for an itchy breast is the clothing or underwear that you have on; there are certain materials that can bring about discomfort and/or an allergic reaction, commonly known as dermatitis. Tight pieces of clothing and underwear, especially in a hot and dry climate can also bring about this itchy feeling, due to the lack of air circulation around your breasts. If neither of these are the culprit, you might want to check the brand of perfume that you’re using- if you are- as itchy breasts have been reported by women who spray perfume directly onto their chest.

Hormonal Changes

Itchy breasts can also be a result of hormonal changes that take place in your body before your monthly period starts. Women and girls often experience a swelling and tenderness in their breasts before and during their period, but in some women, it goes a step further and creates a slight itch as well. If this happens, both your breasts are likely to experience this itchy sensation at the same time. Furthermore, if you’re going through a major physical change- puberty, pregnancy or weight gain- you’re probably experiencing an increase in your breast size; you might experience some itching because your skin and tissue is adjusting to its new size.

The causes that have been listed so far are not something to be too concerned about, as they can either be remedied- change the material of your underwear/clothing- or waited out, as is the case with a period-induced itch. There are however, other reasons for an itchy breast and these require more vigilance and care.

Breast fungus

Sounds a little disgusting, but it’s more common than you would think; the underside of the breast- the inframammary fold- is one of the ideal places for a fungi to thrive because a lot of sweat and dust accumulates there through the day, and because it isn’t the most accessible, one could forget to do a thorough job of washing there. The fungal infection is limited to the skin and does not extend beyond it, but to get rid of it, go get it checked. Most fungal infections cannot be eliminated without the help of medical treatment.

Skin disorders

You could be suffering from one of these; dermatitis, seborrheic dermatitis, urticaria or hives. If your chest suffers from a case of acne, that could be a reason as well.

Sunburn

This is often accompanied by a redness of the skin and is a common cause of itchy breasts. The sunburnt areas could be tender, but if you notice a bump on your skin that begins to itch when exposed to sunlight, you should get it checked out.

Breastfeeding

While breastfeeding, the breasts are severely overworked. Not only are they more susceptible to infections, which could lead to the itchy sensation, but the cracking of the nipples- common as it is- could also be the reason.

Trauma

Women who are recovering from a breast surgery generally complain of itching in their breasts, especially in the areas around the stitches. If the discomfort is extreme, you should talk to your doctor or investigate a salve that will ease the sensation. Smaller injuries, like minor scratches, could also result in some itching, but this is nothing to worry about.

Large breasts

There’s nothing you can do about this one unfortunately. When the skin around your breasts get stretched out, especially when they have no support, you could experience some itchiness.

breast cancer sign

Breast cancer

Saved this one for the last; a lot of women are instantly paranoid every time this is mentioned. If your itch persists for some time and is accompanied by nipple discharge and/or a growing lump in your breast, head to your doctor immediately, as it is one of the indicators for breast cancer.

Treatment and Prevention

Treatment of the itchy breasts should ideally be directed at the cause; while you might assume that the cause of your uncomfortable itch is superficial, there are other conditions that could cause an itching sensation, and this might not be the result of a skin disorder. The easiest way to ascertain whether it is one is to identify a rash; the presence of a skin rash usually means that you’re suffering from a dermatological issue. That being said, this isn’t a hard and fast rule, so a check up is always advised, to eliminate the possibility, if nothing else. A more serious breast issue can only be identified by a doctor, and self-diagnosis might not be the best idea, especially if this is something that persist over a long period of time. Serious breast issues are best handled if caught early, and the older that you get, the more vigilance you should practice.

If your beast itching is not due to any serious cause and is only intermittent and infrequent, then take note of factors that tend to trigger the itching. You could change the material of your bra; try to wear bras made of light fabrics with good ventilation and avoid the use of tight fitting bras or lingerie. Good hygiene will also take you a long way; regular bathing with thorough washing around and under the breasts is important as a lot of unnecessary particles could collect there. Make sure that you dry your breasts thoroughly after bathing and stay away from the artificially scented creams and perfumes as much as possible; the chemicals that are used are likely to do more harm than good.

There are other steps you can take as well, and they are listed below:

Switch to an unscented -and preferably natural skin cleanser- that is designed for sensitive skin. Even if you have been using the same product for years and have experienced no prior problems, it is possible that you have developed a sensitivity to a certain ingredient in it. Or, as you have aged, the same product may no longer be suitable for your older, drier skin.

Take warm- not hot- showers or baths and limit the amount of time you spend in the water. You might even want to try washing your breasts only every two or three days to give the natural oils on the surface of your breasts time to replenish. If that makes you uncomfortable, make sure to wash thoroughly but also gently, so as to not irritate the skin further.

Use an unscented and/or herbal moisturizer or body lotion designed for sensitive skin.
Be sure you rinse your clothes well, especially your bras. What you can do is change the detergent and softener that you generally use and try one that is free of dyes or perfumes. There are detergents that are especially designed for sensitive skin and switching to these might help in alleviating that itch!

Life is complicated, your bra should not be!

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