Eczema can manifest in different parts of the body, so it isn’t uncommon to have eczema on breasts. Symptoms range from mild to severe and appear on, between, and underneath your breasts and/or around your nipples. There are also various causes or triggers and treatment options that you need to know about.
Like eczema in other body parts, the actual cause of breast eczema is still unknown. Although genetics, allergies, and asthma are believed to play a significant role. In terms of breast eczema symptom flare-ups, the most common ones are:
- Immune system’s reaction to irritants and allergens
- Low humid levels
- Too high and too low temperature
- Breastfeeding (usually nipple eczema)
The usual symptoms of breast eczema are no different from when it happens in other parts of your body. They include itchiness, redness, dryness (sometimes scaly), and/or patches of thick skin. In moderate and severe cases, one can have bumpy, leaking rashes crusting over and skin discolouration. Your skin might also start to crack due to too much scratching and dryness, leading to infection.
Eczema symptoms appearing under the breasts can be worst than those on and between your breasts. This is most especially for females or those with larger breasts. That’s because this part of the breast is usually sweaty, which is one of the factors that triggers and aggravates eczema symptoms.
Apart from dry, itchy nipples, if you’ve nipple eczema, you may also have the following symptoms:
- Brown or grey and red patches
- Scaly, thick skin, sometimes forming scabs
- Minute raised bumps that sometimes leak fluid when irritated or scratched
- Nipple discharge
This emphasis on nipple eczema symptoms is because there are other diseases with similar symptoms, such as:
- Heat rash
- Seborrhoea dermatitis
- Poison ivy
Also, if pain accompanies the symptom, even without infection or broken skin, it’s time to visit a physician.
How to Treat Eczema on Breast
Eczema isn’t curable, but the symptoms are manageable, and how you manage them depends on the symptom severity. For mild symptoms, health professionals recommend that you do the following:
- Avoid stress
- Avoid exposure to allergens and irritants
- Have a quick cold or lukewarm bath
- Don’t over dry or rub your skin to dry
- Use mild bath products, such as natural, hypoallergenic bath salts
- Use mild laundry products
- Apply calming and soothing moisturizer
- Lock in moisture by using a skin barrier cream
- Use dehumidifiers in your home
Apart from those, a study suggests rubbing a few drops of breastmilk near or on the nipples to help soothe irritation. This is good news for breastfeeding moms because you’re limited to a number of ointments and creams that you can use.
Meanwhile, if you don’t experience symptom relief or have moderate to severe symptoms, visiting your physician is the best option. They will prescribe you one or more of the following:
- Non-steroidal topicals
- Oral steroids
- Immunosuppressant medications
- Antimicrobials for infections
Breast eczema can be uncomfortable, especially for breastfeeding moms, so knowing how to prevent flare-ups and manage symptoms is essential. Once you know what triggers them, it would be easier to do so. Thus, it’s best to have a “diary” where you record every flare-up and what you were exposed to before it happened.