Ever felt like reaching down to your blouse to scratch those itchy nipples but wouldn’t budge because it is pretty awkward in that setting. An itchy breast or nipple can seem like an embarrassing problem, but it happens to many people in their lifetime. There are several causes of an itchy breast or nipple, from skin irritation to more alarming causes, such as breast cancer.
There are a bunch of reasons why you may be experiencing itchy breasts and most of them are pretty harmless. “Itching is the result of inflammation or stimulation of nerves in the skin. This may be the result of dryness, allergic reactions, direct irritation, or even a result of internal health issues. Itchy nipples (and areolas, the area around the nipple) are actually a fairly common condition for women
An itchy breast or nipple causes the urge to scratch your skin. The discomfort can range from mild to severe and maybe an occasional or constant urge. Scratching can cause the delicate skin to become red, swollen, cracked, or thickened. While scratching may temporarily relieve the urge, it can also damage the skin.
Reasons you may be having experiencing an itchy breast(s):
1. You’re heading into menopause.
Hormonal changes occur during menopause, like a drop in estrogen production. Now that your body’s producing less estrogen, the end of menstruation can also have an effect on your skin too, says ob-gyn Felice Gersh, MD. “Menopause is a state of estrogen deficiency, and estrogen is key to maintaining healthy skin. Without it, the skin atrophies and becomes drier.”
2. If you’re expecting, you can also expect some itching to go along with that growing baby bump. Dr Gore says normal physiological changes that occur during pregnancy, like the enlargement of the breasts in preparation for lactation, can be enough to cause a woman’s boobs to itch.
Pregnancy increases the likelihood of breast and nipple itching. The breasts typically enlarge during pregnancy. Stretching skin can lead to itching and flaking.
“As the skin stretches to accommodate the [growing] breasts, it often becomes dry and irritated,” she explains. “Some women develop stretch marks, which irritates the skin even more.”
3. You’re breastfeeding: Breastfeeding (like during the newborn period) can cause itch-inducing dryness, especially when done intensely.
4. Allergic reaction: Skin can sometimes be irritated by-products, including cosmetics, soaps, deodorants, laundry detergents, perfumes. You might sometimes, feel the sensation coming from beneath the skin. When the chemicals in your products are too harsh, they can create contact dermatitis, a condition in which the skin becomes red, sore, inflamed, or itchy.
5. Yeast infection. You find this difficult to believe but yeast infection can be gotten from breastfeeding. Along with yeast infections, itchy nipples may also be caused by mastitis in breastfeeding women. Mastitis can also be bacteria on your skin’s surface or in your baby’s mouth makes its way into your milk ducts through a crack in the skin of your nipple.
Yeast infections (candidiasis) in the breast area are fungal infections often formed in the warm, moist area under the breasts. They are usually red, irritated, and extremely itchy. Along with itchy nipples, you may also experience flaky, cracked, or sore nipples and achy breasts.
6. You’re currently getting radiation for breast cancer
An expert explains that “Radiation received during treatment for breast cancer completely dries out…the skin of the affected breast, which can result in itching.” “Keeping the skin moisturized during treatment will help reduce this side effect from breast radiation.”
7. Your boobs hate your bra.
It could be as a result of your bra. Pay special attention to your bra, you might have a sensitive skin that might not be comfortable with the fabrics of your bra.
Bras are made with all different types of fabric, and some versions can be seriously irritating to your breasts. Learn to wear a good fitting bra that allows hair flow.
By the way, when was the last time you washed your bra? If you can’t remember, that could be the culprits of the itchiness. Dirty underwear is no go areas for you because the bacteria can cause irritation.
8. In rare cases, nipple itch is a symptom of breast cancer called Paget’s disease of the breast.
When to seek medical help
If your itchy breast or nipple doesn’t go away after a few days, or if it seems to worsen, make an appointment to see your doctor.
You should see your doctor right away if you experience, bloody, yellow, or brown drainage, inverted nipple, painful breasts, skin changes that make your breast resemble an orange peel, thickened breast tissue.