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Itchy Boobs!

May01

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I have itchy boobs. There, I said it. To someone other than my husband. And I guess I should be even more specific in saying that only the actual areola/nipple area is itchy. Like the idiot (human being?) I am, I scratch them when they itch. Most of the time. At work? No. Waiting at a red light and going crazy because my boobs itch so bad? Yes. So the question I pose to you, oh wise knower if moisturizers and other products, is what should I use/what should I do to make the itch stop? As anyone who’s ever seen a boob knows, the skin in my itchy area is different in both color and texture. Does that mean I need to be extra careful with what I use/do? I also should add that I live in Arizona…the dry, dry desert. As a reference point, I usually use a lotion or body butter after showering, all over my body, and Hope in a Bottle on my face after washing it. These products seem to do their job in said areas.
Obviously the scratching needs to stop, but how???
Thanks,
Itchy (and Scratchy)

You, my dear, have a skin allergy. So it is most definitely NOT a matter of finding something new to slather on your boobs, it is a matter of figuring out what’s causing this symptom in the first place and banning it to hell.
The most likely candidates are your laundry detergent, your soap, your perfume or other fragrance in some product you’re using on your body, or even possibly the very fabric in your bras.
So…first take a minute to think back to a time when your nipples did NOT itch (I’m hoping there WAS such a time for you, good lord), and think about any changes you’ve made to the line-up above. Did you switch laundry detergents? Did you buy some ultra-scented red-raspberry-floral-tequila-sunrise shower gel or body lotion? Or, on the other end of the spectrum, did you go back to a nice old-fashioned bar soap?
all_free_laundry.jpg
If nothing is jumping out at you, it’s probably still a good idea to make some changes. Go for a fragrance/allergen-free detergent (we use All Free Clear in our house, to save us all from the ravages of eczema and other rashes) and switch to a gentle, fragrance and/or soap-free liquid wash for the shower (like Dove or Ivory or Cetaphil). Banish fragrance from your post-shower lotions too (Curel! In the blue bottle!), although I’d still probably steer clear of my breasts with any sort of lotion until you really get to the bottom of this.
The other possibility is irritation or an allergy from your bra fabric. Is there any significant difference between them and the fabric that touches the rest of your skin? Most of us have long since shunned the polyester and unnatural fibers from the bulk of our wardrobe, but bras are still full of them, along with cheap dyes and lots of sheen and space-age stretching agents.
If I wore stuff like that on the rest of my body day in and day out, I would be a red, rashy, miserable mess. (I’m thinking back to my summers spent working at an amusement park in a polyester-blend uniform and oh! The terrible chafing.) I’ve got a few silky spandex-type bras, but I also own a lot of nice plain 100% cotton ones. They’re nothing fancy — I got them at Target, but I was converted to cotton during my breastfeeding days, when my boobs were already so chafed and irritated and thrushy that they needed to BREATHE and I realized that the unnatural fibers in the cheapo nursing bras weren’t helping.
Speaking of thrush, if you make all of the above changes and still notice the itching, it’s entirely possible that you’ve got a fungal infection. Even non-nursing nipples can get them, what with the sweaty, closed-in environment those non-breathable bras create. Usually the itching would also have a vaguely hot or burning sensation to it, so if you don’t notice that, then you can keep an allergy at the top of the list. But if you think the itching is vaguely reminiscent of athlete’s foot or something similar, make a rinse of half water, half apple-cider vinegar and wash your nipples twice a day with it, using a cotton ball. Your doctor can also prescribe an anti-fungal cream.
Wash your bras after each and every wearing, in the gentle, fragrance-free detergent. Set your washer to give them an extra rinse as well. We usually associate itching = needs more moisturizing, but unless your nipples have actual, physical signs of eczema (red, flaky skin, possibly oozing), your best bet in dealing with the itch is to keep them as dry and clean as possible, with very little exposure to anything other than water and fragrance-free, soap-free products.

About the author

Amalah

http://www.amalah.com
Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy's daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it's pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to amyadvice@gmail.com.

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.


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8 Responses to “Itchy Boobs!”

  1. Erin May 01 at 11:16 am Reply

    I don’t want to be an alarmist, but there is a type of breast cancer where the main symptom is itchy breasts and nipples, so just to be on the safe side, Itchy may want to go to the doctor to confirm it is simply a skin allergy.
    And, I use the All Free and Clear too (the concentrated version), and I love it.

  2. Tiffany May 01 at 11:41 am Reply

    Ugh, I had that problem. At one point my nipples were bleeding. BLEEDING! And the skin under my arms were irritated, and it was a big huge mess. I went to the dermatologist who was old and cranky and asked if he had to actually SEE my breasts to diagnose me… hrumph. I made him, and felt like a perv, but the end of this story is that apparently I’m allergic to latex, and they put latex in some bras. Who knew? I didn’t.
    So I switched bras, and now I feel mucho better.

  3. qwyneth May 01 at 1:47 pm Reply

    Erin, it’s Inflammatory Breast Cancer, and itchy boobs and nipples is a symptom. There
    are others, including skin changes and inflammation. It appears differently in different women. Here’s the Mayo website on it: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/inflammatory-breast-cancer/DS00632/DSECTION=2 and here’s a blogger who has been fighting it: http://toddlerplanet.wordpress.com/inflammatory-breast-cancer/
    Itchy, if the itchiness doesn’t go away with these changes or if you notice skin changes, you should definitely see a doctor.
    My own breasts get itchy sometimes–I have very sensitive skin. I also found out I was allergic to the elastic in the waistband of my underwear when I broke out in itchy, weepy, painful red rashes along the inner corners of my thighs. My OBGYN misdiagnosed it as an external yeast infection and gave me a steroidal cream–which made it worse! It spread to form a perfect outline of my underwear, then the skin under my breasts started sympathetically getting irritated. A dermatologist got me off the cream and told me to switch to a new type of underwear and sleep without undies. It completely disappeared. I can’t wear all-cotton underwear now because of the elastic in the waistband. Skin is weird.

  4. Gerry Powell Oct 10 at 3:22 pm Reply

    My left areola has been itching for over a year. Not unbearably, but enough to want to make me scratch sometimes. I’ve had 2 mammograms, biopsy, and examined by 2 Drs. and a dermatologist. Said it was eczema, although I have no visible irritation on the itchy area. I used a steroidal cream for awhile w/no relief. I have no idea what this is and worry it could be cancer, but all 3 Drs. have said it is NOT. What should I do ???

  5. da bomb Jan 12 at 10:06 pm Reply

    gets whayt girl you need to go to da doc fast girrl iknow how you be scrating so go girrl and fasst

  6. mary jo Jan 29 at 6:04 pm Reply

    hi my boobs have been really itchy lately and its driving me crazy espeically my nipples wats happining??

  7. mfunk Mar 10 at 10:18 pm Reply

    Are you wearing the Bali Petal Bra?
    Seems to cause lots of people (me included) to have VERY ITCHY BOOBS!

  8. Anonymous May 28 at 3:37 pm Reply

    my boobs are itching like crazy it started after i began going to the tanning bed. Im really annoyed and scared by it.
    ___________
    Editor: Get thee to the doctor.

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