Q. I cannot believe you allowed someone to suggest rubbing antiperspirant on breasts to prevent irritation, rash or fungal infection. Are you out of your freaking mind?

Have you not heard that antiperspirants contain aluminum and have been linked with breast cancer? It’s bad enough that women regularly put aluminum antiperspirant on their underarms, but encouraging women to put this stuff directly on their breasts is irresponsible. Shame on you!

A. You are referring to a question and answer from a few days back where a woman asked about a common problem at this time of year:

“I have been suffering with a rash under my breasts. Every morning I use antiperspirant under my breasts. Although it does seem to help, the itching and discomfort has never gone away.

“Underwire bras are iffy and lace is out of the question. I itch like crazy and I have red marks, so at the end of the day I can’t wait to get my bra off and unleash the twins. What can you recommend?”

We responded: “We don’t know what is causing your itchy rash, but many women develop a fungal infection in those warm moist areas under the breasts. Keeping the area dry can be crucial. Although an antiperspirant may reduce sweating, another reader has a different suggestion:

“I had bra itch for months and was unsuccessful in treating it until I tried Zeasorb-AF. I can’t believe the difference. In just over a week, it has dried up the rash and stopped the itching. It takes some getting used to the medicinal aroma. They market it for athlete’s foot and it has an anti-fungal drug called miconazole in it. It’s worth a try!”

“We hope the Zeasorb-AF will help you, too. Another approach that may be worthwhile would be a spray-on athlete’s foot treatment to provide anti-fungal action without the moisture that could be created by an ointment or cream.”

OK…we admit that we did not discourage use of antiperspirants on the breast. And we note your alarm. There is some data to suggest that your concern may not be as off the wall as many people might assume. Here is a link to more information about this controversy.

As for ways to treat breast irritation, rash or fungal infections, visitors to this site have offered a range of other (non antiperspirant suggestions). They include:

“have the same rash problem. I use a medicated cornstarch baby powder from CVS Pharmacy (pale yellow container). Works wonders. I also use it instead of deodorant, which makes me itch.”


“I, too, had this problem and the dermatologist recommended Desenex after showers. Said it was the same fungus that causes athlete’s foot and jock itch. It works great. Cotton bras are helpful, but hard to find.”


“I rub old-fashioned cornstarch under my breasts to alleviate this problem. Simple but effective!”

Mary V.

“I agree with the diaper rash ointment idea. I have used the Burt’s Bees brand of ointment once a week and put folded tissues under each breast daily in the summer. This regimen has worked for over three years.”

L. A.

“Once you get the fungus under control, instead of regular deodorant, try the MoM [milk of magnesia].

Blow it completely dry before getting dressed. I’d think that would have to be a much safer option. I purchased a travel spray bottle and use it from that.”


Anyone who would like to learn more about MoM [milk of magnesia] as a deodorant may want to check out this link.

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  1. Tracy

    I am concerned about using corn starch for fungal treatments. My understanding is that cornstarch feeds yeast. It could be that you have a yeast infection.

  2. Judith A. Hale

    I’ve been reading your column for years and have seen numerous questions about bra itch and painful skin cracks on fingertips. Yet the easiest and cheapest solution for both has been overlooked. “Desitin” diaper cream cures all forms of skin-fold dermatitis that I know of. It may take a couple of days to work, but it is more effective than anti-fungal creams. (I don’t recommend the generic form as it stinks, tho’ it works.) It’s a miracle for painful skin cracks. I have psoriasis, and skin problems abound in this disorder.

  3. LH

    The sender of the message above used crude language and was offensive. He/she could have gotten his message across with a little more respect.

  4. cpmt

    Every one should know that is very common, I always use anti fungal creams but someone suggested coconut oil or milk for its anti fungal options. I am not sure if vicks vaporub will also be ok since its anti fungal… but since it has other chemicals may be its better the coconut if you don’t want to use creams.
    Also My doc. told me to put cornstarch in the area.

  5. JB

    I wonder if organic kefir or yoghurt from pasture-fed cows, loaded with probiotics, would be helpful as a temporary anti-fungal, if a fungal infection was the actual cause? (I say pasture-fed organic dairy because it would maybe have less allowable puss/pesticides/antibiotics/rGBH growth hormones-things one wouldn’t want to rub on the body.) I’m not sure I’d risk any regular underarm products containing aluminum, given that aluminum is a neurotoxin and our skin actually can absorb things which can then get metabolized into our bodies.

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