Breast rashes affect most women in their lifetime. Here’s some common causes:
- Mastitis is inflammation of the breast that occurs most often in breastfeeding women.
- Untreated mastitis can result in a breast abscess, which is a walled-off area of pus and bacteria in the breast.
- Common symptoms include pain, swelling, redness, warmth and fevers.
- About 11% of women with mastitis have an underlying breast abscess, which generally requires antibiotics and surgery.
- Mastitis is also more common in smokers and tends to persist in smokers, despite antibiotics.
- Mastitis can occasionally occur in non-lactating young or older women and should be seen by a doctor promptly.
Inflammatory Breast Cancer (IBC)
- Inflammatory Breast Cancer is a rare and aggressive form of breast cancer that makes up about 1% of all breast cancers.
- Unlike other breast cancers that form a lump, IBC spreads along and blocks the lymphatic vessels in the skin of the breast – causing the breast to become red, swollen and tender (similar to an infection). The breast skin can also look dimpled.
- Any persistent breast rash, even without a lump should be investigated.
- Paget’s disease of the nipple is an uncommon form of breast cancer that affects the nipple-areolar complex.
- Most people with Paget’s disease also have a breast cancer somewhere else in the same breast, either an invasive cancer or preinvasive cancer known as ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS). The main sign of Paget’s disease is dry, scaly rash and ulceration on the nipple area.
- Intertrigo is caused by a combination of moisture, heat, lack of air circulation and friction between skin folds, and often accompanied by a fungal or bacterial infection.
- Common symptoms include a reddish-brown rash, raw, itchy or oozing skin and unpleasant odour.
- To prevent Intertrigo wear a well-fitting supportive bra, and if you gain weight tight bras may rub on skin, irritating further.
- A breast lift operation will generally help Intertrigo.
- Other causes of breast rash can include dermatitis (sometimes flared by washing powder on bras), eczema, shingles or psoriasis.
This is not a substitute for medical advice. Please see your GP or breast surgeon if you have breast rash.