breasts and bra, overcome under-breast rash

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 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!”

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  1. sharon

    Pambras every day and maternity sleep bra at night have both helped prevent the problem

  2. sharon

    Pambras also help me and wearing a maternity keep bra at night!

  3. Missy G.

    I have recently developed this problem, plus, in addition, I am allergic to fragrances (natural and synthetic), so many of the powders, etc. would just make the condition worse.

    So far, going braless is my best solution, but this is not a pretty sight in a menopausal woman. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

  4. Diana
    New Jersey

    I had this rash also, red, angry & painful. A friend suggested Lotrimin for foot fungus like athletes foot. Used twice a day, applied to a clean dry area. Worked like a charm. Keeping dry and airing out sounds good, but if you have this problem, you have heavy breasts and it’s just not an option, plus, going without a bra makes the problem worse. Don’t we all wear a bra to lift them up? Hope this helps.

  5. Josephine F.

    I’ve had this problem in the crease of my under boobs itching and sore I’ve tried every thing, corn starch, which hazel, vinegar, cortizone 10 intensive healing and powders baby and medicated. Also went to my gyn and got pills no help seems to keep returning, can any one help me I can’t stand to wear a bra and hate to go with out since I’m so big chested and can’t find a sport bra to fit me.

    • Lynne
      Torrance, CA

      I found a website that sells pads that go under the breast I haven’t tried them but I am going to because nothing works for me either. Hope this helps you.

  6. AI

    I had this miserable problem beginning in the heat of the summer, but lasting well into the fall about a year ago. The issue was unsuccessfully treated with several anti-fungal creams prescribed by my dermatologist. I also, tried GoldBond, switching to a cotton, no underwire bra, and worked hard to keep the area as dry as possible. At one point, I even tried yogurt treatments under my breasts!! Something about yeast infections…? I don’t know!
    Anyway, it felt cool and relieved the itch while applied, but like all the other remedies I tried, did not make more than a momentary difference. I tried the cotton pads between skin and bra to minimize any abrasive contact between inflamed skin and fabric. The result was somewhat more comfortable but did nothing to eliminate the itching and rash. agh!!
    Finally, I had an ah ha moment when my son’s athlete’s foot fungus returned… I used Lotrimin powder spray under my breasts, and the rash / apparently a fungus, disappeared. I’ve continued using the powder spray on occasion as needed, but now the admonition regarding antiperspirant is making me nervous… Any concerns about use of Lotrimin or other OTC usually advertised for athletes feet or “jock itch” as needed??

  7. VFC

    Bra liners are absolutely wonderful–they both absorb sweat and protect your skin from the bra itself. I find going braless just traps the heat and moisture, this disperses both. I also use medicated powders sometimes.

  8. Cherry

    During the summer months I often used to get heat rashes under my breasts and on the inside of my arms and thighs. I started using GOLD BOND MEDICATED POWDER and I didn’t suffer any rashes or itching at all. I highly recommend it.

  9. LER

    I don’t have an under-breast rash but have had an underarm rash off and on for years. After I read about coal tar shampoo for roseacia and it worked well, I thought the other rash might be fungi caused too. I shampoo my arm pits (and face) at every shower and everything has cleared up. Maybe a fungus is a cause of the breast rash too. And thanks for the roseacia treatment that worked much better than years of antibiotics, to say nothing of the copays to a dermatologist.

  10. Dee H.

    Re:11-26 posting published 11-28 locally “chronic rash and itch under breasts=
    this problem has been plaguing me for several years. a couple of years ago a Dermatologist suggested keeping the area dry (that’s a joke) and use non-perfumed talc powder. (hard to find non-perfumed) helped but did not solve. Home remedies have included anti-fungal spray (Tinactin), baking powder etc.,most recently applying the prescription salve I use for Psoriasis, Clobetosol Propionate Ointment USP,0.05%, has produced good results. The rash could be Psoriasis related?
    In addition, I have forgone wearing a bra when feasible. Some years ago I was told I had an allergic reaction to Spandex which produced a rash that resembled ring worm. wearing a bra that has some age on it exposes the elastic in the area. I have a cousin who has this issue also. Genetic?
    Hope this is helpful to the lady who posted the issue. It is a most uncomfortable issue.

  11. KJS

    My physician suggested using talc for such moist skin conditions instead of the more common preparations that generally contain corn starch. Starch may provide nutrients for bacteria and fungi. It may be hard to get at the pharmacy but is available in stores that carry supplies for barbers and beauticians.

  12. Vivian V

    I have had this problem. I have used calamine lotion and that works for me.

  13. BH

    I had this same problem with a rash under my breast. I itched so bad I was miserable. A friend told me to stop using clorine in washing my bras. Well, I was amazed but the rash cleared up after I stopped using the clorine bleach in my clothes. That was some time ago. Recently, the rash was back with a vengeance this time. I scratched and rubbed until under my breast was black. This time it was the Tide detergent that I had started using. As soon as I stopped using the Tide my rash cleared up and the discoloration is almost gone.

  14. MJ

    During warm weather when I perspire, MOM worked to eliminate the rash under my breasts. Gold Bond powder helped but I seemed to get red bumps from it. The MOM keeps me dry and rash free.

  15. BR

    Vicks Vap-O-Rub smoothed under the breasts has helped the itch. Don’t know if this is fungus or not but there is no visible rash- just a burning severe itch. Keeping it dry makes no difference at all to me. Be interested in further suggestions.

  16. Ellen

    Zeasorb-AF worked well for me. I also noticed that the rash flares up again when I have too much refined sugar, white flour and/or alcohol in my diet. My naturopath told me that higher levels of sugar in the blood will feed the fungus and cause the rash to return. In addition to the treatments listed above, try cutting out white sugar and white flour.

  17. Wanda J

    I had the same problem and resolved it by buying several Pambra bra liners from I wear one under my bra every day and no longer have any issues with rashes, etc.

  18. Michael F

    Chronic rash under the breast can be from a number of irritants: the laundry washing detergent can leave residual suds in the material and once the body heats up the skins salts can start a chemical reaction. Another area of interest are metal underwire used in bra’s, they are usually made of mixed metals and may promote a skin reaction.
    A moisturizer without synthetic chemicals or petroleum can work wonders to help reduce the dryness and moistness at the same time. Skin contact using an antiperspirant should be avoided by diabetics according to the FDA.

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