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Any part of your skin can get eczema. That includes your boobs. Itchy boob bumps aren’t a lot of fun, but breast eczema is fairly common and usually easy to treat. Before you start to worry about irritated areolas, here are some ways to heal those Grand Tetons.
Atopic dermatitis (the most common form of eczema) usually makes the skin red and sometimes bumpy. But the main symptom is itching. Eczema itches a lot and breczema (the nickname we’re giving breast eczema) is no exception.
Often, eczema will break out around the nipple, between the breasts, or under the boobs. Though again, eczema can pop up wherever you have skin, so it can make itself at home anywhere on your girls.
In addition to redness, your skin may also feel really dry and look a little scaly. Other times the rash can look and feel like you have patches of thick skin. Or, if you’re really lucky, you might have a bumpy rash that leaks and crusts over. The joy of atopic dermatitis, right?
As unpleasant as that sounds, all of those symptoms are normal. But, if your skin starts to crack (due to dryness), keep on the lookout for signs of infection.
If you ever see pus or sudden discoloration, it’s time to head to your healthcare provider ASAP.
It’s your old pal breczema (the best portmanteau that starts with “br” since Brexit). Unfortunately, breczema is just as mysterious as regular eczema. The rash has no known cause, though general eczema is usually passed down through genetics.
One common cause is breastfeeding. Breastfeeding can cause cracked, dry nipples, which sometimes leads to atopic dermatitis. If you already have general eczema, your chances of getting boob specific eczema while breastfeeding is pretty high.
Though there aren’t clear causes of atopic dermatitis and you can’t exactly tell your baby to stop eating if you have breastfeeding induced eczema, you can shorten your breczema flares with some simple treatments or a trip to the doctor’s office.
1. Avoid irritants
Have you recently switched soaps or laundry detergents? That could be the cause of your itchy boobs. Chemical irritants can trigger an eczema flare up, and since your bra sits right against your skin all day, it’s best to avoid detergents that contain harsh chemicals.
That also goes for soaps and shampoos with harsh ingredients. Instead, opt for cleansers that have natural ingredients or are designed for sensitive skin.
The most common over the counter treatment is a hydrocortisone cream. This mild steroid calms inflammation and reduces itching and redness. Typically, you’ll apply the cream to your boobs up to four times a day for about a week. Be sure to follow the instructions on your particular tube of cream and don’t use for longer than instructed.
3. Stay moisturized
An eczema flare-up makes your skin extra dry and sensitive. If you let it get even more dry, you risk irritating the skin further. The next time you’re putting lotion on your legs or going through a ten step skin care routine for your face, spread a little of that moisturizing love to your boobs.
Be sure to pick a moisturizer without any harsh ingredients, but it doesn’t have to be fancy. Even a slathering of petroleum jelly will do the trick.
4. Keep ‘em cool
Hot temperatures and sweat buildup make eczema worse. Ditch the boobsweat by wearing a bra (and shirt) made from breathable fabric. If it’s moisture wicking, that’s even better! During a bad flare, avoid hot temps or sweaty activities the best you can.
5. Wash with care
Treating your tatas to a nice hot shower seems like a treat, right? Sadly, it can make breast eczema worse. Hot showers are actually drying to the skin and it can irritate the rash. Instead, turn the shower temps down a bit. Warm is fine, but extra hot and steamy is not what your boobs want right now.
Also, shorten your shower time. More time spent in the water means drier skin. Keep showers to 15 minutes or less, and apply a nourishing moisturizer when you’re done.
6. Start eating for two (boobs, that is)
If you’re not sure what triggers your eczema flare-ups, you may want to check your diet. Food sensitivities or allergies can cause inflammation, which might make your tata-topic dermatitis come out and play. Eggs, milk, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, and gluten are the biggest inflammatory culprits.
You can try removing these potentially irritating ingredients from your diet and see if your breast eczema improves. During a flare-up, fill up on anti-inflammatory foods like fruits, vegetables, and Omega-3 fatty acids to help your body fight off the eczema as quickly as possible.
It’s also wise to consult your doctor before making any major changes to your diet (especially if you’re considering an elimination diet). They can help you figure out the best way to tinker with your meal plan.
7. Don’t stress
Stress makes just about everything worse, including breast eczema. If your stress levels are high, it can trigger flare-ups or make eczema stick around longer.
Prioritize relaxation the next time your skin acts up. During a tense situation, take a moment to do a breathing exercise, meditate, walk, take a nap, or watch a cute cat video.
8. Check your triggers
Whenever you have a flare, see if you notice any particular triggers. Eczema doesn’t usually flare up right away, so symptoms may not appear until days after the trigger in question. Still, if you can connect the dots, you’ll be able to track what’s upsetting your skin. Though this won’t help during an eczema breakout, it can help you avoid them in the future.
Eczema isn’t the only thing that can cause an irritated chest area. A variety of rashes and other ailments can cause skin inflammation that looks a lot like atopic dermatitis.
If you have an eczema flare up on your nipples that won’t go away, there’s a slight chance that it might be Paget’s disease.
This condition is a form of cancer that starts in the nipple and grows out toward the areola. Again, this is rare, but if nipple eczema starts burning, tingling, or you have bloody or yellow discharge, it’s best to see a doctor to make sure Paget’s isn’t the cause.
Contact dermatitis and atopic dermatitis look exactly the same (hence the similar name), but contact dermatitis comes from a direct reaction to an irritation. That means, it goes away once the irritant is removed. So if you suddenly get a boob rash, make sure it isn’t your bra, detergent, or soap that’s the root of the problem.
Like most skin conditions, psoriasis can show up anywhere on the epidermis, including the boobs. Inverse psoriasis in particular effects skin folds. Sometimes, a boob rubs against the underboob area and this irritation causes inverse psoriasis. If your rash is specifically in the folds of your breasts, this might be the issue.
Yeast infections: not just for vaginas! Yeast can grow in any place that tends to stay warm and moist (sorry, there’s no way to say that in a non-gross way). Sometimes, yeast thrives under or between the breasts. This kind of yeast infection is called Intertrigo and is easily treatable.
Mastitis almost exclusively occurs in breast feeding mothers and is an infection of the breast tissue. This can cause swelling, itching, and irritation.
Don’t think a bug is too good to bite your boobs. Whether it’s bed bugs or mosquitos, irritating insects can get to your breasts and leave you with miserable itchy bumps. If your rash is just a few distinct bumps (and you just went camping or bought a mattress off Craigslist), bugs might be the culprit.
If your nipples are sunburnt, congrats on that topless sunbathing you bold smoke show. Even if you haven’t hit the beach European style, a sunburn on your chest can cause redness, peeling, and a lot of itching.