In the majority of cases, itchy breast is caused by mild conditions that shouldn’t be a reason for concern. However, in some cases, this can be a symptom of a life-threatening problem that requires immediate medical attention.
Common causes of itchy breast are:
- Contact dermatitis – This condition is caused by an allergic reaction to fabric (your clothes or underwear.) In this case, itching is usually accompanied by redness and rash (in more severe cases). It is easy to treat by application of anti-allergy creams or lotions and antihistamine medications.
- Clothing that doesn’t fit you – If your clothes are too tight, you are likely to develop skin irritation. You should also avoid clothing that doesn’t allow proper ventilation, especially when you are in a hot and humid environment.
- Hormonal changes – Women whose bodies go through hormonal changes (e.g. premenstrual) often experience itching in their breasts and especially nipples. This condition may be accompanied by mild pain. These feelings should disappear on their own in a few days. If the problem persists or the pain gets worse, you should contact your doctor immediately.
- Breast fungus – Fungal infections can cause itchy rash under the breast or at the sides. This condition is highly unpleasant, but it’s imperative that you don’t scratch the affected areas to prevent spreading the infection further. Anti-fungal creams should be enough to stop this problem. If the case is severe, you may be prescribed antibiotics to increase the efficiency of topical treatments.
- Skin disorders – Different types of dermatitis (atopic, seborrheic, etc.), hives, and skin acne can cause itch and rash on your breast. These conditions can be treated by applying over-the-counter topical medication. In this case, medical consultation isn’t necessary. However, it will be best to determine what kind of skin disorder is the cause of the problem in order to choose the most effective treatment.
- Sunburn – Sunburn can be painful, but it’s not a dangerous condition. Once the redness and pain subside, the outer layer of your skin will start to peel off. This flaking is usually accompanied by itchiness. Some cosmetic creams for sunburn will moisturize your skin and reduce discomfort. When the dead cells are removed, your skin should return to normal.
- Pregnancy and breastfeeding – Itchy breast during pregnancy is a common issue. It can be caused either by hormonal changes that occur in a woman’s body or by eczema. The latter can make breastfeeding painful because the condition will cause irritation and fissuring of nipples. You should not ignore this problem as it can lead to dangerous consequences that will affect both you and your child. Talk to your doctor about the safest and most efficient methods of treatment to prevent the progress of the disease.
- Mastitis – This is another mild infection common in breastfeeding women. Its symptoms are itching, redness and cracked nipples. Mastitis will require professional medical attention as you have to choose treatments very carefully to prevent any harm to your child.
- Breast cancer – This is one of the most dangerous problems that can cause your breast to itch. Depending on the type of cancer, symptoms can be different. Here are the common symptoms:
- Nipple discharge
- Fixed and growing lump in one of your breasts
Note that the symptoms of Paget’s disease (a rare form of breast cancer) are often confused with eczema. Therefore, it’s imperative to consult a doctor and go through a complete checkup if you notice red itchy rash on your breast or nipple.
- Post-operative itching – This condition is usually non-threatening and will disappear eventually. Wounds itch when they heal, so it’s perfectly normal for new scars to bother you for a while. If the surgery was breast augmentation, the itching sensation occurs because your skin is stretched and it will persist until your body gets used to it.
- Drugs – Some medications, especially hormonal pills, can cause breast itching as side effect. You should consult your doctor if you develop this symptom. This may signify an allergic reaction to the drug. In this case, the problem can be dangerous and will require immediate medical attention.
- Eczema – Symptoms of eczema can vary, but the most common of them are itching, redness, and rash. The itching can be so severe that some people can scratch themselves to the point of bleeding.When your skin is damaged, the risk of infection increases. If bacteria or fungi get into the wound, the condition will become more severe and difficult to treat. In the majority of cases, doctors will prescribe topical steroid-based medications for eczema. However, breastfeeding women cannot use them.
When to Call a Doctor?
It is usually better to contact your doctor about breast itch even if the discomfort it causes is not severe. This way, you will be able to determine what exactly causes it and choose a suitable treatment.
However, if the itching is accompanied by one of the following symptoms, you will require immediate medical attention:
- Chills and fever
- Stiffness and joint pain
- Confusion, loss of consciousness, unresponsiveness, etc.
- Respiratory problems (shortness of breath, choking, wheezing)
- Constriction or tightness in your throat.