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Will Milk of Magnesia Help Under-Breast Itching?

How can you control under-breast itching? Many women share their remedies, from Listerine to Milk of Magnesia. A low-sugar diet also helps.

Under-breast itching is often an extremely irritating problem. You certainly can’t scratch the itch, and figuring out how to treat it is tricky. Doctors don’t always have solutions for this stubborn problem, but many women have shared the remedies that work for them. Some women report that milk of magnesia makes a difference.

Milk of Magnesia for Under-Breast Itching:

Q. Under-breast rash has been a long-term problem for me. I now use milk of magnesia on the area with success. I do not shake it but gently pour off the water every day after it settles. When most of the liquid is gone, I shake the remainder.

Some thick white stuff remains near the top of the container. I scoop this out into a small glass face cream jar. It’s creamy and easy to apply under my breasts with nothing more than my clean fingers. It really helps control under-breast itching during hot weather.

A. A lot of people have told us that topical milk of magnesia can help with a variety of skin problems, from jock itch and under-breast rash (intertrigo) to acne and eczema. Others have used it on diaper rash, poison ivy and seborrheic dermatitis. The FDA has not approved any of these applications, but if people can take it orally as a laxative, it seems safe enough to smear on skin.

Under-Breast Itching Solved With Milk of Magnesia:

Q. Itching under breasts is a real tribulation. After searching your site, I tried applying milk of magnesia to the itchy dry patches of skin under my breasts. After only one application, the itch is gone.

A. Topical milk of magnesia (magnesium hydroxide) is a popular remedy for a lot of skin conditions. Some people use it for acne, rosacea or jock itch. Others apply it to their underarms as a deodorant.

One reader shared her experience:

“I use inexpensive store brand milk of magnesia. I open the bottle top and leave it ajar to let the liquid evaporate to become a thick cream. Then I apply a fingertip of this to each underarm daily. Thanks People’s Pharmacy for the idea. I have tossed my antiperspirants and only use this inexpensive MoM now to prevent body odor.”

What Causes Under-Breast Itching?

It isn’t always clear what is responsible for under-breast itching, but an accumulation of sweat in warm conditions can contribute (StatPearls, April 30, 2022). In such situations, yeast or fungus can thrive. When the weather gets hot and humid, skin folds become susceptible to fungal invasion (Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigative Dermatology, April 17, 2018). 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.

Stay Dry:

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.”

Protect the Skin:

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.

A reader offered this testimonial:

“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. The decolorized or “white” iodine this woman uses doesn’t 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 itching 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.”

KM suggests a Gold Bond anti-fungal product for under-breast itching:

“I don’t want to use antiperspirant under my breasts on a regular basis. Gold Bond makes an anti-friction solid (looks so much like my solid deodorant I sometimes get them mixed up). It works like a charm. I have a very physical job and sweat all day long. Haven’t had a rash since I started using it over a year ago.”

Eat Right:

People who eat less sugar and fewer refined carbs may find their skin is less susceptible to fungal infection, including seborrheic dermatitis, athlete’s foot or jock itch.

Such a diet may also help under-breast itching:

“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.

Choose Your Clothing Wisely:

Clothing that won’t encourage sweating or fungal growth is a good choice.

PP suggests:

“Life in the tropics means one should use cotton underwear.”

A Caveat:

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.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies..
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