Itchy breasts may occur infrequently for most women and seem quite unimportant at the time but if it persists, it can prove to be both an embarrassing and uncomfortable ailment. The odd case of itchiness of the breast is not a cause for concern – maybe it was that new dress that was a bit ‘itchy’ or the perfume you sprayed on your chest. But if it is ongoing and there are other symptoms present, then it requires further investigation.
Causes of Itchy Breasts
In most cases of itchy breasts, clothing and underwear are the problem. The fabric used may be causing an allergic reaction (contact dermatitis) or it may be too tight or not allowing adequate ventilation, especially if you live in a hot and humid environment. Women who tend to spray perfume directly on the skin of the chest or breast are likely to suffer with skin irritation as well.
At other times, itching of the breasts may be associated with hormonal changes like prior to your period (premenstrual). While breast swelling and/or tenderness is thought of as the main premenstrual breast symptom, itchy breasts are also a possibility in some young girls and women.
In both these instances, the breast itching is more likely to affect both breasts simultaneously.
The above causes are not serious and will pass with a change of clothing, after bathing or after the onset of menstruation.
Other causes of itchy breasts which needs more attention include :
- A breast fungus tends to occur under the breast or on the sides of the breast
- Skin disorders like atopic dermatitis, seborrheic dermatitis, urticaria (hives) and even chest acne can contribute to itching of the breasts. A rash is almost always evident.
- Sunburn may also cause itchy breasts along with redness of the skin. Tenderness may not always be present. Any mole or skin ‘bump’ that tends to become more itchy in sunlight needs to be investigated immediately.
- Breastfeeding mothers are more prone to breast infections (mastitis) which may initially appear as an itchy breast with mild pain and cracking of the nipple.
- Itchy breasts that are accompanied by nipple discharge and/or any fixed and growing lump in the breast should be taken more seriously. This can at times be an indication of breast cancer.
- Trauma to the skin of the breast may also cause itching. If it is a slight injury to the skin like in scratching the skin with long fingernails, an itch may develop. This is usually not serious.
- Post operative itching, after a mastectomy or breast augmentation is also a possibility and will reduce with time. Larger breasts due to augmentation may also cause mild itching as the skin may be stretched excessively.
- Certain drugs may also cause itchiness of the skin which may not be isolated to the breasts. Consult with you doctor if you noticed that the breast itching started after taking a new medicine.
If you have breast implants and are experiencing intense itching, pain, redness of the skin and/or fever, consult with your doctor immediately.
Treatment and Prevention
Treatment of the itchy breasts should be directed at the cause. While you may assume that the cause of your breast itching is superficial (on the skin), other conditions may cause the sensation of an itch although it is not related to any skin disorder. The presence of a skin rash usually alerts you to a dermatological cause although this is not always the case. Other causes with accompanying symptoms in the deeper breast tissue should warrant a visit to your gynecologist.
If your beast itching is not due to any serious cause and is intermittent and infrequent, then take note of factors that tend to trigger the itching. Try to wear bras made of light fabrics with good ventilation. Do not use tight fitting bras or lingerie. Always practice good hygiene – regular bathing with thorough washing around and under the breasts is important. Dry your breasts throughly after bathing and avoid strongly scented creams and perfumes. Beware of breast enlarging creams – they rarely work and can cause dermatitis.