everything you need to know about underboob rashes after breast cancer
Everything You Need to Know About Underboob Rashes

Everything You Need to Know About Underboob Rashes

Dana Donofree
9 min read

Everything You Need to Know About Underboob Rashes

Are you feeling itchy, irritated, or maybe have a few red patches underneath your breasts? Chances are, you have an underboob rash. With many different types, symptoms, and causes of an underboob rash, it can be hard to figure out what you have, what caused it, and what you need to do to treat it. Read on to discover the main causes of an underboob rash and ways to prevent it from coming back.

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What Can Cause An Underboob Rash?

1. Intertrigo

Intertrigo occurs when your skin folds rub together, locking in moisture. You may be surprised to learn that intertrigo is super common. As young as infancy, you may have developed intertrigo in your armpits, between your thighs, on your butt, and even in the crevasses between your fingers and toes. Turns out, your underboob area is the perfect hiding spot for this kind of rash.

To distinguish if you have intertrigo and not another rash type, look for a reddish-brownish color. Check to see if the rash is itchy, scabby, or (sorry for the visual) oozing. 

2. Pregnancy

With a growing body – and breasts – it’s common to see a rash form. Stretching skin, pregnancy-induced eczema,  pregnancy-induced prurigo, and intertrigo can all occur while the fetus grows. The most common symptoms that you’ll experience include dry, itchy, and bumpy skin. By using creams and finding other helpful tips -- we’ll get to some of those later on -- you’ll be able to reduce symptoms to make your pregnancy more smooth-sailing. 

3. Breastfeeding

Dermatitis or eczema can occur while breastfeeding because your breasts are constantly in use, whether due to nursing or pumping. Breastfeeding can trap moisture, which can ultimately cause a rash. To prevent this, make sure your nipples are as dry as possible after feeding or pumping, and be sure to clean them daily. 

4. Mastitis

Mastitis is an inflammation of the breast tissue that can lead to an infection. While this can happen to people of any gender who aren’t breastfeeding, it’s common with individuals who are currently breastfeeding. This is typically caused by germs found in the baby’s mouth or bacteria found on the skin, which enters through the milk duct and can cause a milk duct infection. You’re more likely to develop mastitis if you’re constantly putting pressure on your breasts, if you wear tight clothing, or have cracked and sore nipples. Common symptoms of mastitis include breast pain, swelling, nausea, fever, chills, and nipple discharge. 

5. Infections

Here are three main types of infections that can occur in your breasts: 

  • Bacterial.  A bacterial infection generally occurs in tissue and deep layers of your skin. Swollen, tender, and painful breasts may be signs of a bacterial infection, as well as other symptoms like cold sweats, fever, chills, fatigue, and vomiting. If these symptoms accompany your rash, get in touch with a medical professional. Depending on the severity of the rash, you may be prescribed medication.
  • Fungal.  A fungal infection is when a parasite feeds on the protein found in your skin, nails, or hair. You’ll know if you have a fungal infection because this rash is round and red with a distinctive border. A fungal infection is also very itchy. The good news is that once you begin treatment the itchiness subsides at a fast rate.
  • Yeast.  Common to a yeast infection in your vagina or a diaper rash, this infection is more typical among those taking antibiotics or have a weakened immune system. This type of infection appears in wet and warm climates (hence the underboob), and you should pay attention if you’re a gym rat, as sweaty clothes can contribute to this environment. Yeast infections are easily treatable with over the counter medication.

6. Heat Rash

If you’re a lover of sports or all things gym-related, chances are you’ve dealt with a heat rash a time or two before. Heat rash happens with skin-on-skin rubbing, causing red, bumpy, and raw-feeling skin. Ever hear of “chub rub” between your thighs? That’s a heat rash, and it can occur under your boobs. Fevers, heavy clothing, and humidity can trigger a heat rash, too. There are lotions and steroid creams available that can help alleviate heat rash, and there are preventive products you can apply to help improve skin-on-skin friction and keep heat rash at bay.

7. Psoriasis

Psoriasis occurs when your skin cells grow at a much faster rate than normal. While normal skin cells will grow and shed off within a month, with psoriasis, your skin grows so fast it can’t shed off. Instead, your skin cells pile up, causing red patches. There isn’t a cure for psoriasis, but medication and other routes can help reduce its appearance.

8. Eczema

Eczema is a bit different from other underboob rash causes on this list, because it’s a chronic disease that many people have throughout their lives. Eczema can cause itchy, dry skin, in addition to breast, face, neck, hand, and sometimes foot rashes. If you have eczema and discover an underboob rash, it could be connected. To alleviate symptoms, your doctor may prescribe you a cream or gel.  

9. Shingles

Shingles are caused by the same virus as chickenpox, so if you’ve had chickenpox before, there’s a chance you may develop shingles as you get older. Shingles come with a variety of symptoms, such as itching, burning, blisters, fevers, headaches, and tingling. A shingles rash can develop into several red blotches over your body before blistering and scabbing. Your doctor may prescribe you pain medication if you have shingles, in addition to recommending other remedies you can try at home. There is also a vaccine for shingles you may be eligible to receive to help prevent this virus in the first place.

10. Irritant Contact Dermatitis

Irritant contact dermatitis may occur when your body has an allergic reaction to a product. Common symptoms include a dry, swollen, red rash that may cause blisters. The usual culprits of irritant contact dermatitis are soaps, shampoos, jewelry, perfumes, plants, cosmetics, chemicals, and detergents. If you’ve recently tried a new product and are noticing these symptoms, it may be best to throw it out or get tested to see if you’re allergic. 

11. Breast Cancer

Although breast cancer is currently the most commonly diagnosed cancer in the United States, inflammatory breast cancer (IBC) is a very rare type of this cancer. IBC occurs when cancer cells multiply at a very fast rate, causing an abundance of symptoms. These include skin discoloration, redness over the majority of your breast, swelling breasts, thickened skin, a pimple-like rash on your breasts, itchy or tender breasts, and an inverted nipple. If you experience one or more of these symptoms, it’s important to schedule an appointment with your doctor. Treatments include forms of radiation, chemotherapy, and surgery, depending on your cancer type and course of treatment. 

What Are The Symptoms Of An Underboob Rash?

Since there are so many causes for an underboob rash, you could only imagine that there are many symptoms to go alongside it. However, these are the most common symptoms to watch out for.

  • Itchiness
  • Redness
  • Irritation
  • Bumps
  • Flaky skin
  • Odor
  • Swelling
  • Open sores 

How To Treat An Underboob Rash

To treat your underboob rash, it’s important to know what caused your rash, as different causes may have different treatment options. However, there still are many different treatment options you can try to treat your rash. Here’s a general guide of what to try. 

  • Take medication. If a medical professional prescribes a topical or pill to treat the underlying cause of the rash, make sure to take the medicine as directed and finish the full course of treatment.
  • Go braless. When you have an underboob rash, it’s important to let your breasts breathe. Trapped moisture will only irritate your skin further. If you notice that you’re starting to get a rash, or if your rash is becoming agitated, it may be best to go braless for a few days.
  • Avoid underwire. We all know that underwire can be uncomfortable to begin with. It can dig into your skin, which can cause more irritation and possible bleeding when you have an underboob rash. So stick with an underwire-free bra -- every AnaOno bra is underwire-free -- as your underboob rash heals.
  • Wash your bras frequently. Sweaty bras can reintroduce whatever moisture or infection you may have back to your underboob area. Especially on a day where you find yourself sweating more than usual, clean your bra. Check out our  bra care tips to learn the best way to wash your bra.
  • Clean your boobs daily. No matter what activity you do throughout the day, when you have a rash, you always want to keep it as clean as possible. When showering, use a mild cleanser or unscented soap and wash lightly under your breasts to ensure that your rash is getting the proper care it needs.
  • Keep your under-breasts area dry. After getting out of the shower, it’s important to dry off your under breasts with a towel. To go the extra mile, set a hairdryer to the lowest, coolest setting to ensure that your breasts are completely dry. 
  • Wear a bra with moisture-wicking fabric. Bras that are made from lightweight, moisture-wicking materials such as cotton and modal are perfect options to wear. You want to have as much airflow as possible to keep your rash dry throughout the day.
  • Wear loose-fitting clothing. Whether it’s a t-shirt dress, blouse, or loungewear, you want to find clothing that’ll keep you comfortable and won’t irritate your rash. At least while your rash heals, it’s best to avoid bodysuits and other tight-fitting materials.
  • Use unscented soaps and lotions. As much as we love deliciously-scented soap, it actually can irritate the rash, causing more itchiness and pain. When shopping for new soaps, cleansers, and lotions, search for unscented varieties with fewer harsh ingredients.
  • Apply a cool compress. Heat isn’t your friend when it comes to rashes. If your skin is feeling hot or itchy, apply a cool compress under your boobs to reduce these symptoms.
  • Use over-the-counter rash cream. There are many rash creams available, and the right one for you depends on the cause of your rash. Over-the-counter creams are a great, fast option to minimize your rash and allow you to heal quicker.
  • Stop using products that may have caused the rash. If you think your rash is due to an allergy, stop using the product in question right away.

How Do You Prevent An Underboob Rash From (Re)Appearing?

Unfortunately, if you’ve had it once, the rash can return. Here are some helpful tips that can reduce your risk of getting an underboob rash once more. 

  • Wear a well-fitted bra.  When searching for a bra, you want to find one that fits you properly: your breast shouldn’t touch the skin underneath, and your breasts shouldn’t be pressed against each other. A supportive bra that’s made with a breathable material is going to be your best option. 
  • Use anti-chafing powders.  Powders are a great product to soak up moisture to keep your skin feeling dry. Apply this under your breasts whenever you’re having a strenuous workday, before a workout, or when it’s hot outside.
  • Try anti-chafing creams or gels. If powders aren’t your thing, try out a gel or cream. They work the same magic, and they can be much easier to apply. If you don’t have anti-chafing creams handy, applying some deodorant might also do the trick.
  • Wear bra liners. These little pieces of fabric are an easy solution to soak up any excess moisture between your breasts and bra. If you’re sensitive and don’t want to apply any creams or gels under your boobs, this is a great alternative.
  • Shower daily. At minimum, be sure to rinse off the day’s sweat and wash your body with an unscented soap. If you’re short on time, try cleaning and thoroughly drying your underboob area.
  • Avoid tight, airflow-restricting clothing. Let your skin and breasts breathe a bit! Mesh clothing, loose tops, and dresses are great options for letting your body -- and your underboob area -- cool down. 

When To See A Doctor For An Underboob Rash

If you find yourself trying all the “at home” treatments but aren’t seeing any progress, you may want to consider getting a professional opinion. If any of the below apply to your rash, it might be in your best interest to schedule an appointment. 

  • The rash becomes extremely painful.
  • You see no improvement after trying other treatments.
  • You have a chronic condition or a compromised immune system.
  • You develop a fever, nausea, or vomiting. 
  • You develop multiple symptoms. 
  • Your skin is discolored, peeling, or bleeding. 
  • The rash is changing in size or shape. 
  • The rash just won’t go away.

Comfortable, Well-Fitting Bras Keep Rashes Away

Whether you’re trying to prevent a reappearing rash or you don’t want to occur in the first place, the first step is to find a breathable, well-fitting bra. At  AnaOno, all of our bras are designed using a softer-than-cotton, lightweight modal fabric to provide you with all-day comfort, and allow your breasts to breathe. With many designs, styles, and sizes, you’ll find the perfect underwire-free fit that’ll keep you uplifted, dry, and comfortable.

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Dana Donofree
Dana Donofree

Founder and CEO of AnaOno. After a diagnosis of breast cancer in her late 20’s, Dana took her own lived experience and fashion design background and (re)designed intimates for those that have undergone breast surgery. Dana’s story has been published around the world in outlets like New York Times, BBC, Huffington Post, The Today Show, and more.