The breast contains a composite of blood vessels, lymph nodes, glandular tissues, fat cells, nerves and connective tissues which are hidden beneath multiple layers of skin. The different layers of the skin covering the breasts would contain plenty of sweat glands and hair follicles that could sometimes cause breast itch.
Characterized by a tickling sensation that can turn pretty irritating with time, breast itch can cause flaky, sore and swollen skin above the affected area. In some cases, the condition can cause rashes or reddish brown spots to appear on the breast. And while scratching can provide only momentary relief, it would not be the best way to treat prolonged cases which could indicate a deeper, more serious problem.
Common Causes for Breast Itch
Breast Itch can be caused by a variety of factors. Some of the more common ones include:
The most common causes for breast itch are usually allergies caused by exposure to certain kinds of chemicals, dyes, detergents, cosmetics, metals, insect bites, food allergies and skin conditions like eczema. These allergies would cause irritation to develop in and around the breasts when they come in contact with the same (the condition is called contact dermatitis).
For instance, a condition called anaphylaxis which is caused by a severe allergic reaction to certain foods or chemicals can cause sudden itching in and around the breasts.
Conditions like breast mastitis can cause breast itch. In addition to this, women may experience breast itch due to a variety of other skin related infections like scabies, chicken pox, dermatitis, hives, yeast infections, psoriasis, chest acne and pin worms etc.
Breast itch is also common in women who breastfeed. Frequent lactation can cause the nipples to become dry and develop cracks. Cracked nipples are excellent sources of infections and can become instant breeding grounds for bacteria and viruses that enter the breasts via the infected nipples and cause breast itch.
Over exposure to sun can make the skin around the breasts dry and dehydrated. This in turn can lead to the formation of flaky skin around the breasts. Flaky skin would increase the itching sensation in the breasts.
Many women tend to wear lacy bras without realizing the harmful effects of the same on the breast. Lacy bras can be harsh on the tender skin present around the breasts and can cause extreme irritation which would develop into breast itch with time.
Injury to the breast can possibly cause conditions like breast itch. Even a slight injury can turn into something more dangerous with a single scratch and can cause severe irritation in the affected area.
Certain breast procedures can cause breast itch. Breast augmentation would cause the skin on the surface of the breast to stretch in order to accommodate the larger sized breasts. This can cause breast itch in and around the surgical site. Breast procedures like mastectomy and lumpectomy can also cause breast itch. In these cases, the itching would develop when the wound (surgical site) is healing.
Use of Certain Drugs
Breast itch can also be caused by certain drugs and antibiotics that would produce adverse reactions on the skin present in and around the breasts. If the itchiness develops right after taking a new medication, chances are it could have been caused by the new drug or medication.
Breast cancer can cause breast itch in some women. The presence of cancerous lumps inside the breast can lead to conditions like severe irritation, breast enlargement, painful breasts, flaky skin around the breast and leakage of lymphatic fluid from the breasts etc.
Common Symptoms of Breast Itch
Given below are some of the more common symptoms of breast itch. The occurrence of the symptoms and their severity would depend on the underlying causes for the itchy breast.
Appearance of Lumps and Rashes
Breast itch can lead to the formation of reddish patches or rashes on the breasts (which are usually caused by repeated scratches). In some cases, a lump would be visible near the affected area and would take some time to disappear.
Rashes- this is one of the common symptoms linked to an itchy breast. Due to the tickling and irritating sensation experienced on the breast, one may be lured into scratching the breast which may lead to a lot of rashes coming up.
Warm, Swollen Breasts
An itchy breast can swell up by almost a cup size and can become reddish (caused again from repeated scratching) in appearance. In some cases an itchy breast would be extremely warm to the touch in which case it would be difficult to wear even a bra for fear of aggravating the irritation.
Dry, Flaky Skin
Itchy breasts can become very dry with the skin on the surface becoming flaky. With time (and incessant scratching), the flaky skin would start falling off, leading to skin discoloration near the affected area.
Leakage of Pus
In certain cases where the itchiness is caused by an infection, it is quite common to spot slight discharge from the breast. The discharge may be accompanied by pus as well. The discharge would last as long as the condition continues.
Other symptoms of Breast Itch
Some of the other symptoms of breast itch that could possibly indicate a serious issue include joint stiffness, joint pain, breathlessness, disorientation, inflammation of the face and fever etc.
Common Treatments for Itchy Breasts
Itchy breasts can be quite troublesome to deal with and can even disrupt your daily activities. While there are several remedies for itchy breasts, it is always considered wise to visit a doctor and have the condition checked out in order to rule out any possible anomalies.
Here are some of the more common remedies for itchy breasts
OTC Creams and Medications
Applying anti fungal and anti itch creams/lotions over the breasts can reduce itchiness to an extent. Choose one that contains an analgesic and has a pH of less than 1.0. Apply the cream over the breasts at least twice a day to get relief from the itchy sensation.
Triggers to Avoid
Stay away from foods, chemicals and other products that could cause breast itchiness or aggravate an existing condition. Opt for scent free products while bathing and use a luffa sponge to clean under the breasts properly. Use mild moisturizing creams/lotions after a shower to keep the breasts hydrated, thereby reducing itchiness caused by dry skin.
Wear Comfortable Clothing
Avoid tight clothing that can lead to the formation of sweat underneath the breasts. Excessive sweating in these areas can trigger fungal infections that can in turn cause breast itch. Avoid lacy bras and opt for airy, cotton bras that would be softer on the breasts. Again, opt for soft cups that do not put too much pressure on the breasts. This can cause infections and other conditions like itchy breasts at bay.