Even in our tell-all society there are some topics that people don’t talk about. Women rarely discuss a problem that seems to be surprisingly common, especially at this time of year. There isn’t even a convenient name for it.
When the weather gets hot and humid, skin folds become susceptible to fungal invasion. The area under women’s breasts can become vulnerable to rash and itching from such infections. This may be embarrassing as well as extremely uncomfortable.
Women have shared both their frustration and their success stories on our website. Here are some of the strategies that have helped.
First is keeping the area dry. A supportive bra made from a material that wicks moisture away from skin can be helpful. Women have also resorted to absorbent paper towels: “I live in a very humid climate and work and exercise outside a lot. I have found that if I fold a soft paper towel into a strip and put it under the band of my bra, it is an enormous help. It also serves as a cushion between my bra band and my irritated skin. I also apply an antifungal powder before I put my bra on.”
Diaper rash cream with zinc oxide is a popular treatment. Another widely used remedy is milk of magnesia. Although it is sold as a laxative, topical use seems to help against the microbes responsible for itchy rash: “During the humid southern summers I am plagued with underarm rash and from time to time rash under my breasts. I mix one part cheap milk of magnesia, unflavored, with one part witch hazel or amber Listerine-type mouthwash and use this to cure any rash.”
Listerine alone is an option: “I apply Listerine after showers. This takes the rash away.”
Another woman swears by iodine: “Having relocated from the northeast Atlantic coast to Florida recently I have had rashes and itching under my breasts. I find that decolorized iodine lightly applied to the region keeps the rash under control. I also use a soft tissue between my breasts in my bra to absorb moisture.” Iodine has recognized antifungal activity (ISRN Otolaryngology, July 25, 2013), but the usual brown liquid could stain.
Some women choose a cream: “I have used Noxzema Cream (the original in the blue jar) in the groin area and under the breasts. It clears up the rash right away. It has essential oils in it so it also has a cooling sensation.”
Coconut is another option: “I control under-breast rash with coconut oil that I apply after I shower. It doesn’t stain my clothes and it hasn’t lost its effectiveness after years of use.”
Diet may matter: “Going sugar-free has made a huge difference for me. This includes fruit juices, dried fruits, even most fresh fruit-I eliminated it all for a start. I can tolerate a small piece of fruit most days. I watch for ‘hidden’ sugars, as in ‘natural’ yoghurt. After decades of almost constant suffering from the problem, it is now rare, and I can usually pinpoint the culprit that caused it.” Yeast loves sugar, so it seems plausible that limiting sugar might deprive the microbes of needed fuel.
A persistent rash should be examined by a physician, just to make sure it is not a symptom of something serious. With luck, though, one of these simple remedies will control the rash.