Itchy Breasts: Causes, Symptoms, and Effective Natural Treatments

Itchy Breasts: Causes, Symptoms, and Natural Treatments
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For some women, having itchy breasts or nipples is an occasional discomfort. But for many women, breasts and nipples that constantly itch can be an embarrassing problem that affects their quality of life. In many cases, breasts or nipples become itchy because of hormonal changes or, it could be something as simple as a bra causing an allergic reaction. However, some causes of breast itching are more serious and are caused by inflammation, infections, or even cancer.

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There are many home remedies that help to soothe itchy breasts while pregnant or breastfeeding. Also, if the itch on your breast or around your nipple is caused by a fungal infection or eczema, ingredients like coconut oil, aloe vera, and tea tree oil will also help get rid of the underlying cause of the itch. Even if your breasts are itchy around the time of your period, many homemade remedies will provide relief from the discomfort itchy breasts can cause.

In this article, you will learn why sometimes you have itchy breasts and how you can relieve the itching. You will also find out more serious causes of itching nipples and breasts and when you should see a doctor about the breast irritation.

Itchy Breast or Itchy Nipple: Symptoms

Various conditions can cause mild to severe itching in your breasts and around the nipple area. You may have a red rash on your breast or under your breast that feels itchy. In cases of eczema or dermatitis, the rash on your breast may blister and start to ooze fluid and then crust over.

Unfortunately, scratching the itch on your breast may also cause further bacterial skin infections that may make the itch more difficult to treat.

If the reason for itching on one or both of your breasts is due to an inflammatory condition, you may feel warmness around the itchy red patch of skin. When breast itching happens along with your monthly period you may also have other symptoms like lumpy breasts, tenderness, and swelling in your breasts.

Causes of Itchy Breast or Nipple

Let’s look at the various reasons of breast and nipple itching before looking at the best home remedies to cure itchy breasts.

Atopic dermatitis

One of the most common causes of suffering from itchy breast or nipple is atopic dermatitis, or sometimes called eczema. The breast itching can be very severe if you have patches of eczema on the breasts and you will probably also have a red rash.

Nurse practitioner, Dr. Jane Harrison-Hohner on WebMD says that atopic dermatitis that causes itchy breasts can happen in women of all ages. Factors like dry skin, over reaction to allergens, being in water for too long, or stress can cause flare-ups of eczema. Dr. Harrison-Hohner recommends keeping your breasts well moisturized to help prevent itchiness and rashes caused by atopic dermatitis.1

Dr. William Shiel on MedicineNet says that chronic eczema can also cause thickened patches of scaling skin. However, swelling, weeping, and crusting skin along with severe itching is also common with atopic dermatitis.2

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Contact dermatitis

Another skin condition that can cause breasts or nipples to itch terribly is contact dermatitis. This type of dermatitis is caused by hypersensitivity to substances that inflame the skin and cause itchiness. For example, certain cosmetics, fragrances, or topical medications can cause the skin on your breasts to become irritated, red, and itchy.

The Indian Journal of Dermatology reported that contact dermatitis can sometimes cause similar symptoms to Paget’s disease of the nipple which is a rare type of breast cancer that affects the nipple. One woman had persistent nipple itching with fluid oozing and crusting over. It was found that contact dermatitis due to using topical steroid creams was to blame for the itchy rash on her breast.3

In many cases, contact dermatitis can be prevented by avoiding the irritant that is causing the patches of blotchy, itchy red skin on your breast or nipple.

Jogger’s nipple

Women who enjoy sports and exercising are often affected by itchy nipples which are sometimes called “jogger’s nipple.” Although chafing can affect any part of the breast, the website SportsInjuryClinic.net says that friction burns on the nipple caused by constant rubbing of a T-shirt are often to blame.4

The journal Sports Medicine lists “jogger’s nipple” as one of the common skin disorders among athletes.5

To prevent developing itchy nipples and breasts after running, you should make sure and wear the right type of sports bra and apply an emollient before taking part in sports.

Pregnancy and breastfeeding

If you are pregnant, there is a high chance that you will suffer from itchy breasts at some point during your pregnancy.

Many women who are pregnant report that persistent breast itching is common while expecting a baby. This could be from the fact that breasts tend to become larger which stretches the skin and makes it more sensitive.

However, it’s not just breasts that itch during pregnancy, your nipples can become itchy and irritated as well. According to doctors from WebMD, nipple eczema often occurs during pregnancy and while mothers are breastfeeding. This can cause constant itching in the nipple and make breastfeeding uncomfortable.6

Mastitis

Mastitis is an infection in the breast that can cause itching, warmth, and redness in one or both breasts or nipples. According to doctors from the Mayo Clinic, mastitis commonly affects women who are breast feeding, although, it can also affect any woman.7

The American Cancer Society says that breast itching is a common symptom of mastitis, but could also be a sign of inflammatory breast cancer.8 Therefore, if you notice breast changes like redness, warmth, and itchiness in your breast for no discernible reason, you should visit your doctor for a checkup.

Fungal infection

Itchiness under your breast, nipple, or on your breast could be due to a fungal infection caused by Candida. Candida is a yeast that can start to overgrow in folds of skin and is a common reason for a rash under the breasts. The book Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative says that breasts or nipples that are itchy, red, and flaky are sometimes caused by Candida.

Dr. Mary Harding on Patient.info says that the rash caused by candida will usually be sore and itchy and may develop into blisters.9

Usually, antifungal treatments are prescribed to get rid of a candida skin infection. However, at the end of this article, you can find some natural antifungal ointments that you can make at home to get rid of itchy breasts.

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Paget’s disease

Paget’s disease is a more serious cause of itchiness in and around the breast nipple. Paget’s disease is a form of cancer that affects the nipple and the area surrounding the nipple.

According to PubMed Health, Paget’s disease causes symptoms similar to nipple eczema. Along with the itching, the nipple may bleed and ooze fluid.10

According to doctors from WebMD, Paget’s disease is a rare form of breast cancer. The itchiness and discharge will usually be from just one nipple. Doctors also say that a benign (non-cancerous) tumor in the breast duct can also cause similar symptoms to Paget’s disease.1

Inflammatory breast cancer

Itching with a red rash on your breast is a rare symptom of inflammatory breast cancer. Cancer Research UK says that the area of skin over the tumor can sometimes turn red, start to itch, and become inflamed. However, researchers say that if you have a red patch of itchy skin on your breast, it is more likely to be eczema or another inflammatory skin condition.11

To find out how to reduce your risk of breast cancer, please read my article on the best foods to eat for breast cancer prevention and get familiar with these 5 unconventional signs of breast cancer.

After breast augmentation

Women who have undergone breast augmentation surgery usually find that their breasts are itchy during the healing process. This happens because the breast skin may be tighter after surgery. Itching and rashes sometimes occur due to allergic reactions to medications.

The book Breast Augmentation says that some patients who have had surgery to increase breast size sometimes have intolerable itching and rashes on their breasts.12

Hormonal changes

Many women complain that their breast or nipple feel itchy just before their monthly period. This could be because breasts are sometimes larger just before the menstrual period and breast tenderness is a common sign of premenstrual syndrome.

Hormonal changes can also cause some women to have itchy breasts during the menopause.

Natural Home Remedies for Itchy Breasts or Itchy Nipples

Let’s look at some of the best ways to get rid itchiness from your breasts and what to do if you have a persistent itchy nipple.

Coconut oil and tea tree oil for itchy breast or nipple

If your breasts are itchy because of eczema or a fungal infection, you can use a mixture of coconut oil and tea tree oil. Both of these natural ingredients have antimicrobial properties that can kill off various infections that cause itchiness. Also, the fatty acid content of coconut oil is a natural skin moisturizer for your breast skin which prevents dryness and chafing.

The journal Dermatitis reported that coconut oil is an effective natural treatment for eczema and it has antiseptic properties. Coconut oil also helps to provide deep moisturizing on your skin and can treat chapped and broken skin.13

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Also, studies into tea tree oil have found that it has both antibacterial and antifungal properties. For example, the Journal of Chemotherapy published a study showing that tea tree oil is effective against Candida yeast infections.14 The Mayo Clinic reports that tea tree oil may reduce itching caused by yeast or bacteria.15

How to use:

To use tea tree oil and coconut oil to help get rid of an itchy patch of skin on your breast or soothe an itchy nipple, this is what you should do:

  1. Mix 2-3 drops of tea tree oil with 1 tablespoon of virgin coconut oil.
  2. Gently apply the coconut oil remedy to the irritated skin on your itchy breast or nipple.
  3. Apply 3 times a day and continue using until the breast itching has stopped and you no longer have a rash.

Apple cider vinegar for itchy breasts

Another natural anti-itch remedy for itchy breasts is apple cider vinegar (ACV). Apple cider vinegar helps remove itching because of its low pH acidic content. The acetic acid content of ACV is also a natural antiseptic that can help to remove the underlying cause of an itchy breast.

The journal Annals of Dermatology reported that acidic water can help to treat atopic dermatitis and reduce skin inflammation. The acidic water also helped to kill off germs that cause skin infections.16 Other studies have shown that acetic acid helps to destroy yeast infections and reduce the symptoms associated with that.17

How to use:

It is very easy to reduce the discomfort caused by itchy breasts by applying diluted raw apple cider vinegar to the irritated skin area. This is the method for getting rid of the itch:

  1. Mix equal amounts of raw apple cider vinegar and water (don’t use undiluted ACV).
  2. Using a cotton ball, apply the ACV remedy to the itchy skin area on your breast and allow to dry.
  3. If the remedy irritates your skin too much, you should wash it off with warm water and increase the amount of water the next time you apply it.
  4. After using the ACV remedy, apply the coconut oil and tea tree oil concoction to moisturize your skin and boost the healing process.

Because the skin on your breast and area around your nipple is quite sensitive, you should carry out a small spot test to see how your skin reacts. In time, your skin will get accustomed to the acidic nature of apple cider vinegar and shouldn’t sting.

Oatmeal bath to soothe itchy nipple or breast

Oatmeal contains anti-inflammatory compounds that can help to take the irritation out of itchy nipples and breasts. Oatmeal also helps to cleanse and moisturize your skin to prevent dry skin conditions that can lead to further itching.

For example, the Journal of Drugs and Dermatology reported on the beneficial effect of oatmeal on your skin. Researchers found that compounds in oatmeal act as an anti-irritant on the skin and can soothe itchiness and reduce redness and irritation.

How to use:

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Use oatmeal to get rid of itchy breasts while you are pregnant or resolve itchiness that is caused by eczema or a fungal infection, this is how to make an oatmeal bath to cure itching:

  1. Add 1 to 2 cups of ground oatmeal to a bathtub of warm water.
  2. Mix the oats well in the water to release the healing compounds from the oatmeal.
  3. Soak in the oatmeal water for 20 minutes.
  4. You can also gather a handful of oatmeal to make a paste and gently massage this onto the itchy rash on your breasts.
  5. Rinse off in the shower and pat your skin dry.

Aloe vera

One way to cure itchy breasts or soothe an irritated nipple is to use the healing power of aloe vera. Aloe vera contains many vitamins and nutrients that nourish damaged skin and address the causes of itching.

The Indian Journal of Dermatology published a review on the effect of aloe vera on the skin. In the review, it found that aloe vera has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties that can help to heal wounds, treat dermatitis, get rid of fungal and bacterial skin infections, and moisturize the skin.18

How to use:

Use aloe vera gel on your breasts or nipples if they are itchy by applying it this way:

  1. Buy aloe vera gel with as few added ingredients as possible or extract the gel from an aloe vera leaf.
  2. Massage the gel into the itchy skin rash on your breasts using gentle circular motions.
  3. Use 2-3 times a day and allow the aloe vera to dry.
  4. Continue using on the itchy breast or itchy nipple until the itching has stopped and you no longer have red skin or broken skin.

Witch hazel

You can relieve breast itching caused by an infection by using pure witch hazel on the affected skin area. Witch hazel is a natural astringent that helps to soothe inflammation and skin irritation. Witch hazel also is a natural antiseptic that is gentle on your skin.

Various studies into the medicinal effect of witch hazel on skin conditions have shown it to be an effective home remedy. For example, it is used to reduce itching and inflammation in atopic dermatitis. Also, the antimicrobial properties help to prevent infections from developing and speed up the healing time of damaged skin.19

How to use:

To quickly and effectively get rid of itching from your breasts using witch hazel, this is what you should do:

  1. Soak a cotton ball with pure witch hazel.
  2. Apply to the itchy red patch of skin on your breast to help reduce the itching.
  3. Use 2-3 times a day until the itching has gone for good and you no longer have discomfort in your breasts or nipples.

Itchy Breast or Nipple – When to See a Doctor

Most causes of breast or nipple itching are harmless and can be resolved by using topical home remedies to treat the underlying cause. However, sometimes an itchy red rash on your breast or itching and chapped skin around your nipple can be a sign of a more serious medical condition.

Doctors recommend getting any unusual changes in your breasts checked out by a medical professional. Therefore, if you still have itchy breasts after using home remedies, you should visit your doctor in the following circumstances:20, 11

  • The breast itching is so bad that you can’t sleep and it interferes with your daily activities.
  • Your skin is broken and infected from scratching.
  • You have discharge from the infected skin or discharge from your nipple.
  • You have a red patch of itchy skin on your breast that feels warm and tender to touch.

Read my other related articles:

Article Sources

  1. WebMD. What’s making my nipple itch like crazy?
  2. MedicineNet. Atopic dermatitis.
  3. Indian J Dermatol. 2008; 53(3): 154–155.
  4. SportsInjuryClinic. Jogger’s nipple.
  5. Sports Med. 1990 Feb;9(2):100-19.
  6. WebMD. Itchy nipple
  7. MayoClinic. Mastitis.
  8. Cancer. Breast cancer symptoms.
  9. PatientInfo. Candidal skin infection.
  10. PubMed. Paget disease of the nipple.
  11. CancerResearchUK. Can itching be a sign of breast cancer?
  12. Breast Augmentation. Case reports.
  13. Dermatitis. 2008 Nov-Dec;19(6):308-15.
  14. J Chemother. 2001 Aug;13(4):377-83.
  15. MayoClinic. Tea tree oil.
  16. Ann Dermatol. 2016 Feb; 28(1): 126–129.
  17. Acta Microbiol Bulg. 1990;25:24-30.
  18. Indian J Dermatol. 2008; 53(4): 163–166.
  19. NCBI. Herbal treatment for dermatologic disorders.
  20. WebMD. Dry skin and itching.
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