What is breast rash?
A breast rash describes redness and irritation of the skin on your breast. A breast rash can also be itchy, scaly, painful or blistered. Other terms used to describe a breast rash include dermatitis and hives.
Breast rashes, in particular, require special attention. In some cases, a rash on the breast can be a sign of breast cancer. For this reason, any rash on the breast should be examined by a doctor.
How common is breast rash?
Breast rash is quite common. It can occur in patients in any gender at any age. It can be managed by reducing your risk factors. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.
Which signs and symptoms can breast rash usually be associated with?
Related signs and symptoms include:
- Breast swelling
- Skin thickening in the breast area
- Pain or tenderness
- Nipple changes
- Feeling of warmth
- Itching or tingling
- Abnormal discharges
What causes breast rash?
Many different factors can cause rashes, ranging from harmless to serious. Sometimes, the cause of a rash is clear, such as exposure to poison ivy or similar. Most of the time, rashes are not cancer. However, because they can be a sign of cancer, rashes and skin changes should be examined by a doctor.
- Inflammatory breast cancer (IBC) is a rare form of breast cancer that can grow and spread quickly. Its symptoms often appear like a rash or skin irritation. With IBC, the cancer cells interfere with lymph vessels in the skin. This results in the changes in the skin’s appearance and texture. Often, a lump cannot be felt in the breast at all, and the cancer may not show up on a mammogram. IBC usually has no noticeable symptoms until skin changes are seen or felt. Once these changes occur, IBC is at an advanced stage. Treatment is needed quickly to keep it from spreading further.
- Paget’s disease of the breast is a type of cancer that affects the skin on the nipple and usually the skin around the nipple, known as the areola. A diagnosis of Paget’s often means that there is a tumor inside the breast. Most often, a type of invasive breast cancer is found in people who have Paget’s disease. Like IBC, Paget’s disease is rare. It accounts for 1 to 4 percent of all breast cancer cases, according to the National Cancer Institute.
- Women who are undergoing treatment for breast cancer may get breast rashes as a result of their treatments. Some breast cancer medications, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, and radiation can all cause breast rashes. Women who are taking any medications or undergoing breast cancer treatment should ask their healthcare team about possible side effects, including breast rashes.
The skin on the breast is prone to many common and relatively harmless rashes. Some common, noncancerous rashes that appear on the breasts and other areas of the body include:
- Fungal infections: Fungi on the skin can cause a red, sore, or itchy rash. Candida is a common fungal infection that can appear under the breasts and in other skin folds.
- Allergic reactions: Dermatitis, hives, and skin swelling are often caused by an allergen or irritant touching the skin. If the skin on the breast has been exposed to new fragrances or substances that can cause an allergy, it is possible to develop these rashes.
- Skin conditions such as eczema, seborrheic dermatitis, or psoriasis: Redness, itching, scaling, and rough texture are common symptoms of these conditions, which can be widespread and often don’t affect the breasts alone.
- Illnesses such as shingles: A shingles rash is usually very painful and may cause a single stripe of blisters on the body. Shingles can develop on or near the breast area.
- These rashes often do not affect the breasts alone, but they can in some cases.
Some conditions and skin rashes only affect the breast area. People will not find these rashes on other areas of the body. They are not cancer, but they may require medical attention:
- Breast abscess. This is an infection caused by bacteria that get inside the breast, usually through the nipple. Abscesses often affect breast-feeding women, who may get cracked or irritated nipples. Breast abscesses can also affect women who are not breast-feeding if their breast skin is cracked or injured, or they have undergone a nipple piercing.
- Mastitis is an infection in the milk ducts of the breast. It often begins with a blocked milk duct in a breast-feeding woman. The stagnant milk in the blocked duct builds up and allows bacteria to grow. Mastitis can cause a painful, hard, swollen lump that may be red or hot. It can also cause a fever, chill, and a general feeling of being unwell.
- Mammary duct ectasia. Most common in women over age 50, mammary duct ectasia occurs when a milk duct’s walls thicken and get wider, which can lead to a buildup of fluid. Mammary duct ectasia may cause a thick, green or black discharge from the nipple, as well as redness, pain, or nipple changes. It may go away on its own or have to be treated with antibiotics.
The conditions mentioned above are some common causes of breast rash. Consult with your doctor for an accurate diagnosis.
What increases my risk for breast rash?
You are more likely to experience breast rash if you have any of the condition mentioned above.
Please consult with your doctor for further information.
When to see your doctor
When should I see my doctor?
You should contact your doctor if you or your loved one has any of the following:
- Severe pain
- Sores that won’t heal
- Red streaks coming from the rash
- Yellow or green fluid oozing from the rash
- Signs and symptoms that worsen
On noticing one of these symptoms or having any questions, please consult with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor to get the best solutions for your situation.
Lifestyle changes & home remedies
What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage breast rash?
These following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with breast rash:
- Take a warm bath or place a warm washcloth over the rash for a few minutes.
- Apply a fragrance-free moisturizer to the area.
- Take care of your skin. Don’t scratch the rash.
- Think about recent behaviors that may have caused your rash. Have you tried a new soap? Have you been wearing scratchy clothing? Stop using any new products that may have caused your rash.
If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor for the best solutions.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Breast rash. https://www.mayoclinic.org/symptoms/breast-rash/basics/when-to-see-doctor/sym-20050817. Accessed January 4, 2019.
Are breast rashes related to cancer? https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/317140.php. Accessed January 4, 2019.
Review Date: January 4, 2019 | Last Modified: January 4, 2019