Itchy, scaly boobs - help!
March 8, 2010 3:53 PM   Subscribe

Itchy, scaly areola on both breasts. I can't get to a doctor until mid-April at the earliest. Help?

Within the last month, I noticed an irritation on my right areola, to the left of my nipple. I assumed it was a pimple or a hair follicle, as I've had both on my boobs before. It was a little bit itchy, and in a few days it was feeling kind of scaly/flaky as well. Clearly it was not a pimple.

Shortly thereafter, my left breast's areola began get scaly and itchy as well. Fast forward to today, and both of my areolas (areoli?) are reddish and scaly/flaky. They do itch, but not constantly - only when I'm changing clothes, drying after a shower, or tossing and turning in bed (I usually sleep without a shirt). Essentially, only when the nipples have been rubbed against (but not in a sexy way!)

I'm 22, a virgin, and no one but myself and my doctor have been touching my boobs. The last time I was at a doctor was last March, and it was my obgyn. There was no problem then.

Other info that may or may not be relevant:

-recently started going to the gym 2-3 times a week. I haven't showered there or used any shared towels, and I don't think I do enough to have any sort of irritation. however, it's in the same time period.

-haven't really changed my diet at all.

-it's winter where I live, so it could be just dry skin?

-I haven't changed soap, perfume, or detergent recently.

I plan to see a doctor about this, but with my work schedule, the soonest I can get to one is in mid-April. (Unless of course the overwhelming response is run to a doctor NOW, in which case I can maybe take an hour off of work one day.) Bonus question: do I see a general practitioner, an obgyn, or a dermotologist?
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (16 answers total)
It sounds like they're chapped, possibly from an ill-fitting sports bra. Have you tried lotion?
posted by youcancallmeal at 3:59 PM on March 8, 2010

Do you generally get dry, chapped skin in the winter? I do, and this sometimes happens to me. Try using an unscented moisturizer every day, especially right out of the shower. Aveeno is good.
posted by Eshkol at 4:08 PM on March 8, 2010

Dry skin happens everywhere, especially in places that are rubbed up against clothing regularly, like elbows, knees, and, you guessed it, breasts. This happens to me sometimes and usually a few days of regular lotion application works. There's a lot of lotion options out there. I like Aveeno like Eshkol suggests, especially on my face, but the stuff that actually does a number on flaky dry patches is Lubriderm Intense Skin Repair. Generally the less girly-scented and less fancy the packaging is, the better it works. If you're applying lotion two or three times a day for a week or so and you've still got problems, then it's time to see someone about it.
posted by Mizu at 4:14 PM on March 8, 2010

You need a better sports bra and some BodyGlide.

But mainly as Youcancallmeal said -- better sports bra.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 4:14 PM on March 8, 2010

Yeah, I'd recommend Body Glide or some other lubricant used by athletes. When I started running, I got chafing on my breasts as well; then, I got a better bra. Also, I used some Vitamin E Aloe cream/gel on the chafed area afterward which helped.
posted by bluefly at 4:32 PM on March 8, 2010

IANAD, and if it persists you should go to one. But, to me this sounds like dry skin and maybe the beginning of a little eczema/dermatitis (which I am well acquainted with). I would put an over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream on the area, and start regularly using a good moisturizer after you shower. Moisturizer is a personal thing, but I really like the Aveno oatmeal one.
posted by crabintheocean at 4:51 PM on March 8, 2010

I almost wrote this post back in December. I had just started jogging and hadn't changed anything else. It turns out it was probably a combination of longer, warmer showers post-workout and it being winter. I generally have dry skin and some allergies to begin with. It showed up on the back of my knees, one thigh, and, the worst, on my left breast.

I went to my dermatologist, he gave me some nearly nuclear steroid ointment which knocked out the worst in three days, and then prescribed a useless and expensive maintenance cream that I can't find any active ingredients in. For maintenance I'm using Gold Bond Ultimate (white tube with gold accents), which is mostly petroleum, on the worst spot, and non-irritating thick lotion as soon as I get barely dry from the shower. If it recurs, I can knock it back with the steroid ointment. I also found that I did have to cover it with a broad bandage - or even a tiny piece of saran wrap between it and my bra - during the worst of the cracking.

But! This is all after seeing a derm. The petroleum-based ointment seems to work great for this in the mean-time. If it gets worse, call a derm and tell them where it is. There's a chance it's fungal or otherwise unpleasant, but if you're anything like me, it's just goddamn winter eczema.
posted by cobaltnine at 5:04 PM on March 8, 2010

I've had great luck with CeraVe cream (not lotion) for ezcema.

Also, cooler showers (not hot), no soaking, gentle soap or cleanser like Dove or Cetaphil.

If it doesn't go away you may need Lotrimin (for a fungal infection). These areas can get infected quickly cause they get dried out and irritated easily. If the Lotrimin doesn't clear it up, see a doctor... but you can most likely treat this on your own.

PS I volunteer at 5k/10k races and one time was given the task of putting Vaseline on little sticks... now I know why! :) Feel better.
posted by FergieBelle at 5:16 PM on March 8, 2010

Hanging out in a sweaty sports bra makes my right nipple and boob area so so so itchy! Argh!! Something with the sweat being trapped in there, I suppose. Shower and change immediately after working out, if you don't already.
posted by KateHasQuestions at 6:47 PM on March 8, 2010

Nursing my first baby really chapped my breasts. Lanisoh turned out to be a help (I seem to remember that warming it up a little bit made application smoother).
posted by MonkeyToes at 7:27 PM on March 8, 2010

Great comments above. For the itching, use some Cortizone cream.

To help with chaffing, I use baby powder.
posted by radioamy at 9:07 PM on March 8, 2010

A & D ointment is good for this sort of irritation also.
posted by leahwrenn at 9:53 PM on March 8, 2010

If you'd like a natural alternative to a petroleum cream, try mixing olive oil with finely-ground salt and using it as a gentle scrub in the shower. Add a few drops of tea tree and thyme oil if you can get them, for their anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties. Yay nature!
posted by greenish at 6:25 AM on March 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

It could be a yeast infection. Yes, there. Yeast infections can happen pretty much anywhere skin is involved.

Have you had a lot of rain/moisture lately? If it's been humid, combined with sweating from the exercise, that could have kick-started a yeast infection.

Your local CVS or Walgreens should have Lotrimin in a lotion/cream or powder spray. The powder spray works great. If the regular creams and lotions don't help, give the Lotrimin a try.
posted by lootie777 at 9:17 AM on March 9, 2010

Greenish's suggestion sounds like absolute torture for sensitive skin or eczema prone people. Sensitive skin does not need to be abraded or scrubbed away. In fact thats a terrific way to turn it into an infection.

I'd suggest cutting your showering time and temperature down. Cooler water, and less of it will strip less moisture out of your skin. An immediate all over cream treatment will do wonders, something like Cetaphil cream (comes in a tub, not a lotion), or Aveeno Intense Moisture Cream.
posted by fontophilic at 10:08 AM on March 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

Not a doctor, but...

It could be dry skin (try using a gentle, unscented moisturiser like Cetaphil);

It could be a fungal infection;

It could be psoriasis (which you can treat by using an over-the-counter topical steroid cream, moisturiser, and by trying to reduce the amount of stress in your life.)
posted by Oceanesque at 12:41 AM on March 11, 2010

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