What can a rash under the breast mean?

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It's okay to find a red flush or pimple-like spots on your skin, but a rash under your breasts can indicate many things. The good news is that most are mild or easy to treat.

However, in rare cases, a chest rash can be a sign of something more serious. Here is a summary of the probable causes and when to call your healthcare professional.

Infections

Often times, a rash under the breast is a sign of a mild infection.

Mastitis

Mastitis is chest pain, swelling, itching, or warmth, often on one side, due to a bacterial infection or irritation from a blocked milk duct. This is usually the result of breastfeeding problems, but it can also affect women and men who do not breastfeed.

Along with a chest rash and fatigue, you may notice a red wedge-shaped area or nipple discharge that may contain pus. You may have flu symptoms such as fever, chills, and nausea.

Mastitis can usually be cured with oral antibiotics in about a week and a half. But it can take up to three weeks. If this does not happen or the situation worsens, see your doctor for follow-up.

Cellulitis

Cellulitis is a common, sometimes serious skin infection that occurs when a crack or injury allows bacteria to enter. Although it can be treated with antibiotics, the infection can quickly get worse and sometimes requires hospitalization for additional care.

If you have a fever and a rash that is red, swollen, painful, hot to the touch, changing rapidly, or growing, seek emergency medical attention immediately. If you have a rash but don't have a fever, see your doctor to determine what to do next. Treatment is needed to prevent the condition from getting worse.

Herpes

If you get chickenpox , the chickenpox virus that causes it stays in your body. Later it may reappear as shingles as a painful rash.

Symptoms include pain, itching, or tingling on the skin followed by a rash, sometimes many days later. Shingles often looks like a single red line on one side of the body and can also be accompanied by fever, chills, headache and an upset stomach, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Although shingles is not contagious, a person can get chickenpox from someone who has shingles if they have not had chickenpox before. So keep your distance if you suspect you have it.

Your doctor may prescribe pain relievers and antiviral medications to help shorten the attack. But they work best if you catch them within three days of the rash, so don't delay.

Yeast infections

A yeast infection can also irritate the area under the breast when yeast enters the body through a crack in the skin or injured nipples during breastfeeding.

Symptoms include a chest rash that may be painful, itchy, red, and shiny. You may have nipple irritation and, if you are breastfeeding, nipple pain that does not stop after stopping or changing positions.

Antifungal medications can relieve pain and irritation. If you are breastfeeding, talk to your doctor about treatment for you and your baby to make sure the infection clears for good.

Tub

Despite the unsavory name, ringworm has nothing to do with worms. This is a scaly, ring-shaped rash caused by a fungal infection.

You can pick it up from other people, towels, or even pets. The rash may be itchy, slightly raised, include overlapping or enlarged rings, and a clean or scaly area within the ring.

An over-the-counter or prescription antifungal cream will usually help within two weeks. Otherwise, consult a doctor. You may also need to take antifungal pills.

Skin diseases

If the rash under the breast is not caused by an infection, the other cause may be an underlying skin disorder.

Rash

Heat rash can appear when the sweat ducts under the chest are blocked, trapping sweat. The result is clear bubbles and liquid-filled bumps; itchy, tingly red bumps; or areas of skin that look like goose bumps.

It's all to blame for heat, humidity, and an overly tight shirt, chest strap, or bra. Generally, all you need to do is cool down with a bath, a cold pack, and looser clothing. If that doesn't work, see your doctor.

Scabies

You may have scabies if the skin around and under your breasts and other areas itches so much that it prevents you from sleeping at night. It is caused by a tiny mite that burrows into your skin. Scabies is usually accompanied by a rash of small bumps or hives that form a line.

To relieve the itching, you and anyone in close contact will need a cream, ointment, or lotion prescribed by your doctor to get rid of the mites. According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), a rash or itching may get worse before it gets better, but it should go away within four weeks.

Hailey-Hailey disease

Hailey-Hailey disease is a rare genetic disorder that causes blistering of the skin around the neck, armpits, skin folds (such as under the breast), and genitals. Although these rashes go away and reappear on their own, heat, sunlight, injury, or friction can make them worse.

Avoiding these triggers can help, but sometimes the most severe cases require cold compresses, prescription creams, and antibiotics.

Allergic reactions

Sometimes an allergic reaction can present with an itchy or inflamed rash or hives under the breast.

Common culprits include:

  • Medications or supplements
  • Foods like nuts and fish
  • Soap, shampoo, laundry detergent, or fragrances.
  • Irritants in the air such as dust, pollen, or dander.

According to the AAD, over-the-counter antihistamines like benadryl (diphenhydramine) can often help relieve hives. See your doctor if the rash keeps you awake at night, is sudden, painful, severe, or widespread, or does not go away in three weeks.

If you experience signs of anaphylaxis (severe allergic reaction), such as shortness of breath, dizziness or dizziness, seek emergency medical attention immediately.

Autoimmune diseases

If you have an autoimmune disease, you may develop a rash under your breasts because your immune system has become overloaded. While there is no cure for this, you can learn to identify triggers and minimize symptoms.

Psoriasis

Psoriasis is a chronic skin disorder that sometimes causes skin lesions under the breasts that appear a soft, bright red in lighter skin tones, or purple, brown, or darker in a different skin color.

Flare-ups can be caused by certain medications, fungal infections, friction, stress, tobacco or alcohol use, and other triggers.

Once a diagnosis is made, your healthcare professional can help you learn how to manage this condition with creams, powders, and systemic medications.

Eczema

An underbust rash may be suitable for eczema if your skin is itchy, inflamed, and discolored with rough, scaly patches. Eczema symptoms can vary greatly, but are often caused by stress or by irritating soaps, fabrics, or fragrances.

You can learn to manage breakouts by knowing your triggers, taking regular care of your skin, and using over-the-counter and prescription medications that you apply to the skin, as well as immunosuppressants.

Cancer

Inflammation of the breast that rarely goes away or quickly worsens may indicate inflammatory breast cancer (IBC). Typical symptoms include swelling, warmth, and irritation of the breasts, purplish or reddish skin, thickening of the orange peel, and dimples on the surface of the breast.

It is more common in black women compared to white women and tends to occur in young women under the age of 40. If treatment for mastitis doesn't work within seven to ten days, don't hesitate to see your doctor to rule out IBV, according to the American Cancer Society.

Summary

A rash under the breast can be caused by infection, skin conditions, allergic reactions, autoimmune diseases, and (rarely) cancer. Symptoms, causes, and treatments depend on the condition.

A rapidly spreading rash or breast growth, life-destroying pain or itching, swollen lymph nodes, or signs of infection such as pus are all signs that you should see your doctor as soon as possible.

Get the word of drug information

While a rash under the breast is often easy to treat, it's important to be on the lookout for signs that something more serious may be going on. You know your body better than anyone. Therefore, if your intuition tells you that something is wrong, you should consult a doctor for your peace of mind and well-being.

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