Most causes of rashes between the breasts are the result of friction and heat. There are also some causes that are directly related to breastfeeding. Here’s a look at some of the more common culprits:
Heat rash or prickly heat is a common cause of rashes between the breasts. While many people associate this condition with children, adults can also experience heat rash. True to its name, a heat rash occurs when temperatures are hot and humid.
Heat rashes occur when excess sweat, produced by sweat glands, does not reach the skin’s surface where it evaporates. The areas under and between the breasts are especially vulnerable because the skin rubs against each other, and this friction increases the likelihood of a heat rash.
Intertrigo is a skin condition that occurs when two skin surfaces rub together. the result can be a red, irritated, and inflamed skin rash that sometimes has an odor. friction, such as breast rubbing, can cause intertrigo.
Because sweat tends to collect in areas like this, moisture can attract fungus and bacteria. women are more likely to experience this condition in the summer, especially if they have larger breasts. the condition can also affect women who exercise a lot.
inflammatory breast cancer
Inflammatory breast cancer is a type of breast cancer in which cells grow rapidly. symptoms may develop and worsen over the course of three to six months. In addition to causing a red rash that affects most of the breast, symptoms of inflammatory breast cancer also include:
- swollen breasts
- itchy breasts
- inverted nipple
- sore breasts
- tender breasts
- thickened skin of the breast
The symptoms of inflammatory breast cancer can often initially resemble those of mastitis or a breast infection. If a doctor prescribes antibiotics and symptoms don’t improve, see your doctor in a week to 10 days.
Paget’s disease is a rare form of breast cancer that affects the nipple and areola (the dark skin around the nipple). the condition can closely resemble eczema or contact dermatitis (skin irritation). Other symptoms may include:
- thickened skin around the nipple
- flattened nipple
- bloody or yellow discharge from the nipple
Sometimes, conditions that affect the entire body can also cause rashes between the breasts. Examples of these conditions may include shingles, eczema, and psoriasis, among others. These conditions will not only affect the area between the breasts, but will also affect other parts of the body, such as the limbs or the abdomen.
mastitis is a condition in which the breast tissue becomes infected. this is very common in women who are breastfeeding, and often only occurs in one breast. however, a woman does not have to be breastfeeding to have mastitis. Symptoms associated with mastitis include:
- breast swelling
- breasts warm to the touch
- breast pain
- fever of 101 degrees fahrenheit or higher
- skin redness
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The condition can occur in nursing mothers when a milk duct becomes blocked or bacteria enter the breast through a crack in the mother’s nipple.
a breast abscess or subareolar breast abscess is a condition that can occur if mastitis is not treated. the abscess is an area of infected fluid known as pus. the abscess will appear as a red, painful, tender lump. Although this rash and irritation usually occurs in women who are breastfeeding, it can also occur in women who are not breastfeeding. sometimes a doctor will need to drain the abscess and prescribe antibiotics to treat the infection.
Having diabetes can increase your risk of certain skin infections and dry skin. for example, people with diabetes are at increased risk of yeast infections due to candida albicans. the more uncontrolled your blood sugar is, the more likely you are to experience this type of infection. This fungus commonly grows under the breasts and can cause an itchy red rash, along with blisters and peeling.
Circulating hormones and weight gain can make you more prone to rashes between the breasts during pregnancy. In addition to rashes from heat or sweating, you may also experience some rashes that are unique to pregnancy. these can include a condition called pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy or puppp.
This condition causes small red bumps, or hives, to form on the body. Although they usually start in the stomach, the lumps can spread to the breasts.
Another pregnancy-related rash that can affect the breasts is prurigo of pregnancy. this is a condition that causes small bumps to appear that look like insect bites. prurigo is an immune-related reaction that can last for several months after a woman has given birth.
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