Q. I have had a chronic rash under my breasts that has been quite troublesome. By chance I started rubbing my antiperspirant stick on that area after every shower, and it works like a miracle for me. I have not had another rash.
A. You are a not the only woman we’ve heard from who is desperate to find solutions for breast rash. Warm moist areas like those under the breasts can harbor skin fungi that lead to rash and itch.
Keeping the skin dry discourages the fungus, but we are not enthusiastic about using antiperspirants so close to the breast. They contain aluminum salts that prevent perspiration by plugging sweat ducts. Some scientists have found higher levels of aluminum in breast fluid from women with breast cancer (Journal of Applied Toxicology, April, 2011).
Until this issue is resolved, we suggest other approaches to preventing moisture beneath the breasts. Some readers report success using antifungal treatments such as Zeasorb-AF, Gold Bond Medicated Powder or Desenex. Others have found diaper rash ointment or medicated cornstarch helpful.
Several women have found that the elastic in most bras can exacerbate the problem. Others have found that milk of magnesia or Listerine applied beneath the breast, as you are applying your antiperspirant, can be helpful.
If you would like to learn more about the potential link between aluminum antiperspirants and health concerns, you may wish to listen to our radio show on the topic, How Safe Is Aluminum?
For women who do not want to slosh milk of magnesia on their underarms as a deodorant, we offer our MoM Roll-On.
And for more suggestions about how to deal with breast rash, we offer these comments:
“Years ago I learned of using corn starch under the breasts, and it does wonders. I also cut rectanggle pieces about 7″ X 15″ off of old sheets, and pink the edges so they do not ravel. I use one horizontally under the breast, between the bra and skin.”
“Some times irritation can come from being sensitive to the rubber found in the band that runs around the bottom of the bra. Some of us are sensitive to rubber in clothing that comes from China. I wear my bras inside out since the rubber does not appear on the band on the outside of the bra. I’ve done this for 15 years after developing a topical sensitivity to rubber.
“Corn starch works well if the problem is a rash other than a fungal infection, But corn starch will make a fungal infection worse. The fungus thrives in the corn starch. I saw this many times caring for nursing home patients. Learn the difference between fungus and rash. Fungus isn’t “pimmply” like a rash. It is bright pink, and concentrated in patches with smaller separate areas advancing away from the central patch. Look up pictures.”
“So I was having this problem also…a friend suggested apple cider vinegar..at first I thought she was crazy..but thank God I listened. Shower and pat dry, blot the rash with apple cider vinegar and allow to air dry. It is also very important to wash all of your bras in very hot water. It only took 4 days for me to clear up my rash completely!”