Oh dear god my boobs itch.
June 21, 2011 8:08 AM   Subscribe

Feral cat in laundry causes horrible under-boob rash: how do I get rid of this?

So our friendly neighborhood feral cat has been climbing in through a window and hanging out in our house when it rains. Last week I found him sleeping in a laundry basket and chased him out of the house, then put on a bra from that same basket.

That evening I found fifteen! bug bites under my boobs. And boy did they itch. So I scratched them, and eventually the bites went away. In their place? A horrifically itchy under-boob rash that is driving me out of my f-ing mind.

At first I applied baby powder a few times a day, and it seemed to be getting better, until I wore the same bra (it having been washed) and the rash got way worse. This may or may not be related to the initial insect bite-apolooza. Now baby powder makes it worse. So does cortisone cream.

WTF happened to my chest, and I how do I get rid of this? The rash has been going on for about five days. Any suggestions on immediate relief? This is torture. (Benzocaine ain't doing it for me.) I'm working a long shift tomorrow and can't be pawing at my chest all day.
posted by sarling to Health & Fitness (26 answers total)
You have fleas or mites.
posted by orthogonality at 8:10 AM on June 21, 2011

I hate to be that person, but your physician can take a look and verify mites, allergic reaction, or other and let you know what to do. It'd be bad to diagnose a rash without looking at it.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 8:14 AM on June 21, 2011

Response by poster: I believe I had a flea or mite, but no longer do. All the laundry got washed and so did I.

Maybe I should post (tasteful) pics of the rash?
posted by sarling at 8:18 AM on June 21, 2011

I have found that one or the other of Gold Bond and After Bite the Itch Eraser is almost guaranteed to remove any itchiness I have. Gold Bond works better for rashes, Itch Eraser for bites, but this is only a quick fix, it will not solve the underlying problem (probably fleas or mites).
posted by jeather at 8:19 AM on June 21, 2011

You tried cortisone cream; did you try Benadryl and Benadryl cream?

You might still have some fleas around; they can be really quick about dropping eggs outside of the areas where you spot them, so even if you clear up all the fleas you see once, there may be another generation coming up quickly.
posted by galadriel at 8:25 AM on June 21, 2011

Maybe get a different kind of bra before your long shift. Cotton, with a less binding strap? Or maybe a sports bra. Definitely don't wear that bra again until you're healed.
posted by clone boulevard at 8:40 AM on June 21, 2011

If you still have the rash and itching and it is not going away, do go to doctor, because it is very possible you have gotten scabies from the feral cat. Cats, esp feral, often have a form of mange that is indeed caused by scabies and can all too easily transfer to humans. BTDT.
posted by batikrose at 8:54 AM on June 21, 2011

Response by poster: I never though I'd be posting pics of my boobs on the internet.

The initial bites.

The rash now.

A closeup of the rash.

Re: scabies, I don't see any "trails", though maybe I'm not looking hard enough. It has been a couple weeks since the first bites, so it certainly has had time to develop.

Is there a chance I could have scratched my way into a fungal or yeast infection?
posted by sarling at 9:20 AM on June 21, 2011

Best answer: You do have a rash. (tasteful and appropriate Pics--well done). This may be the first time I have recommended--go to a physician. I am very prone to take a wait and see--but you have waited and we all have seen. Make an appointment--it probably is not an emergency unless you have other symptoms (fever, headache, unusual aches/pains, infection). I would take Benadryl and use a cortisone cream until the appointment. Let us know--
posted by rmhsinc at 9:57 AM on June 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

After googling scabies bug mites fleas rashes and searching images I am putting my money on fleas. You can check yourself and probably identify the appropriate treatments but a physician might get you more relief quicker.
posted by rmhsinc at 10:05 AM on June 21, 2011

Seconding rmhsinc, make an appointment if it's not clearing. Mainly just dropping in to offer sympathy. Looks very uncomfortable!
posted by BlueHorse at 10:14 AM on June 21, 2011

Best answer: In the summer I get yeast under my boobs from humidity, sweat, etc. Antifungal powder(lotrimin) does the best. Keeps things dry and kills the yeasty beasts. Cats tend to carry ringworm and if its anything like that, antifungal powder will take care of that too.
posted by PJMoore at 10:25 AM on June 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

In case it was just fleas, I can say from personal experience that some of us (me) have unusually severe reactions to flea bites. Mine turned into a long-term, ultra-itchy rash after the bite sites healed. So it's possible.
posted by Knowyournuts at 10:32 AM on June 21, 2011

Looks like fleas to me too although the overall reaction is much stronger than anything I've seen before. Have you tried taking an anti-histamine? The red welt and itch from insect bites is caused by histamine so I find that taking a systemic dose (i.e. a pill) works much better than trying to rub something on, even hydrocortisone. Sometimes even steroid cream isn't enough to cut down the reaction once you've rubbed it and it's gone all angry, so if an antihistamine doesn't work then it might be worth a trip to a pharmacy or doctor even if you think it is fleas.
posted by shelleycat at 10:35 AM on June 21, 2011

Ok, as you can see there are many causes of vaguely similar looking rashes. You can also get plain bacterial erythrasma under the breast.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 10:36 AM on June 21, 2011

Benadryl cream, stat. You had flea bites and an allergic reaction. And the baby powder didn't help (I really wouldn't recommend powder for a rash). If you want to hasten recovery and can crash for a little while with your schedule, over-the-counter benadryl capsules will help clear it up but put you to sleep as they work.

The mites and scabies ideas sound really scary, but your rash doesn't look like that to me.

Also, just because you washed the clothes doesn't mean you got rid of the fleas in your house! Empty your vacuum cleaner bag, vacuum and then empty it again (both times into your outside garbage bins). If you see fleas, hot soapy water will kill them.

And I would get a screen for that window in the laundry room. So far, all you know that has come in is the feral cat....
posted by misha at 10:39 AM on June 21, 2011

Ouch! That definitely doesn't look like ringworm, but I would suggest, as others have, that you've waited long enough and tried several things, and now it's time to see someone.
posted by FlyByDay at 10:39 AM on June 21, 2011

Go to a dermatologist - looks like eczema.
posted by zia at 11:18 AM on June 21, 2011


For my typical under-boob rash caused by humidity, I use corn starch. This does NOT look like that at all.

Put the offending bra in bra time-out! Quarantine it in a plastic bag until you know what's up! It will make you feel better.

Benadryl (oral) at night?

Other than that, see a doc. A dermatologist if you have the insurance to go there first.

posted by the young rope-rider at 11:23 AM on June 21, 2011

Oh, that first photo made me shriek in sympathy. You poor thing!

Nthing everyone else that you have flea bites. You must, must not scratch them--the Benadryl cream will help with the itching.
posted by orrnyereg at 11:46 AM on June 21, 2011

Response by poster: Resolved!

At your urging, I went to my local Minute Clinic where the NP diagnosed... a fungal/yeast infection! However, here's the interesting part. We all have yeast and fungus sitting around on our skin doing nothing - especially in damp places like under our boobs. But for it to rapidly develop into something as serious as the above, it has to get into the skin somehow... such as when you scratch the living shit out of flea bites that happen to be in the vicinity.

So! Diagnosis: an unusual number of flea bites caused excessive scratching which introduced fungus which was already under sweaty boobs and merely seized the opportunity. NP prescribed econazole, which I am about to apply. (Yeah, I updated y'all before applying the cream.)

By the by, while I was there, I casually asked about this creaking in my foot that I got from a sprain last week. It wasn't a sprain; my foot's broken. It doesn't even hurt. I shit you not. I can't stop laughing. To everyone who told me to go see a medical professional, my sincere thanks!
posted by sarling at 11:52 AM on June 21, 2011 [10 favorites]

Youch, that sounds really unpleasant! I hope the cream works really fast.
posted by shelleycat at 11:54 AM on June 21, 2011

Ha, that happened to my partner on our honeymoon! (The foot breaking, not the boob yeast.)

Keeping things dry in that area can be tough and I really do recommend corn starch for its cheapness, its silky smoothness, and its lack of smelliness.

Good luck with the cream!
posted by the young rope-rider at 12:20 PM on June 21, 2011

Feral cat in laundry causes horrible under-boob rash

I've no useful advice, just wanted to say "Damn, can you write a headline!". I imagined seeing that phrase plastered across the front of the New York Post.
posted by benito.strauss at 2:15 PM on June 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

I would get a humane (Live) trap and some cat food. Leave the window open, trap the cat, take it to a vet and figure out what problems it has. Drop off cat at shelter and you have your diagnosis. It will cost some time and money, but it should work.
posted by Felex at 4:24 PM on June 21, 2011

Just wanted to say "Damn, can you write a headline!"

posted by empatterson at 6:49 PM on June 21, 2011

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