The War on Breasts
September 8, 2012 7:10 PM   Subscribe

Acne on the underside of my breasts is starting to become actually disfiguring. I don't have major acne anywhere else. Please help me manage or control this!

I do have mild facial acne - generally blackheads. When I was younger it was more severe. It's slightly disfiguring in that there are a ton of light pockmarks on my cheeks, but not too bad.

The underside of my breasts, however, looks like a warzone. Large pimples, about the size of half a pinky nail to a full pinky nail, generally yellowheads. When they pop (or I pop them) they gush blood, then they turn kind of dark with blood inside them and become little round dark spots. Or even if they heal clean, they leave little round red scars. It looks like I've been burning the underside of my breasts with cigarettes.

Additional data: I do have very large breasts, especially post-nursing. I also live in a fairly hot climate, so I sweat a lot under my breasts. The sweat from there doesn't smell like sweat though - it smells more kind of like oatmeal than anything else.

Has anyone else experienced this? What did you do?
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (17 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I don't have any personal experience but could it be some type of yeast infection or other infection? That could be why it doesn't clear up easily.
posted by maxg94 at 7:12 PM on September 8, 2012 [5 favorites]

See a doctor.

I had this for about a month when I was doing cardio almost every day. I washed my sports bras after every workout, but it didn't seem to help. My doctor prescribed an acne medication, which helped.
posted by quartz at 7:14 PM on September 8, 2012 [4 favorites]

1. Get to a dermatologist and get whatever Rx strength stuff you need to clear this up. Drug store solutions are not going to get results.

2. Wash your bras VERY frequently, I'd say after they've been worn only one or two days, hand wash in hot water with dilute bleach or oxygen bleach for disinfecting. I know many women go longer than that because it will destroy the bra more quickly, but buying bras more often beats dealing with acne scars.
posted by slow graffiti at 7:19 PM on September 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

This sounds to me more like heat rash, which I had in the same area when I lived in an extremely hot climate.
posted by bluedaisy at 7:22 PM on September 8, 2012 [2 favorites]

Yes, MD. Prescription meds are MAGIC!!
posted by small_ruminant at 7:24 PM on September 8, 2012

Ouch. Yes, see a doctor. Drug store levels of medicated acne stuff isn't going to do the job. You can definitely get a yeast infection in that area, as well as heat rash, so you might need a combination of things. This is what a doctor's for.

Make sure you wash and dry under your breasts as much as you can. Talcum powder really helps! Get a week's worth of bras and wear a different clean one every day. Try not wearing them when you can manage it, too. If you can manage to be really obsessive about this for a few weeks, you'll give the skin time to heal and then you can relax a little bit. But you will still need to maintain some habits of keeping it dry and cleaning it with gentle soaps. It's sensitive skin. Once the infection is cleared up, treat it kind of like you would your face.
posted by Mizu at 7:27 PM on September 8, 2012

See a doc; might need better nursing pads or absorbent cloth in that area. I don't know what a doc might prescribe, but you can use Amazons search inside this book feature to look it up in Hales.

Also, contact the mod at Bustygirlcomics - that's a decent comm site from what I recall. Other resource I recommend on nursing & meds is the ever comprehensive
posted by tilde at 7:35 PM on September 8, 2012

Does the skin of your breasts still touch the skin of your upper abdomen when you have your bra on? If so, you could try tucking a hankie or a clean white shortie sock (don't laugh!) inside your bra between those overlapping skin layers. That cuts down on the perspiration and the contamination (for lack of a better word) between the two skin layers. I would agree you need to see a doctor for definitive treatment though.
posted by SweetTeaAndABiscuit at 7:50 PM on September 8, 2012 [2 favorites]

Also check bra size fit. I was getting zits around my underwire when I was wearing the wrong size because they were rubbing more than they should.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:52 PM on September 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

Yeah, it seems like you need soothing cream and/or a soft, clean cloth barrier of some sort there in the future to head this off. But first, you need to break the infection cycle (acne is an infection to begin with, and it sounds like you may have a secondary bacterial or yeast infection, too). If you don't fix the infection, all the creams and cloths in the world will just make things worse.

I would see a dermatologist, specifically, and find out if there's something prescription-strength you can get for this. Wash all of your existing bras thoroughly, and don't wear them more than once or twice before washing them. (And if that seems to make things worse, consider switching to a free-and-clear detergent, if you aren't already using one.) Then, once that area is under control, go to a specialty bra shop to get fitted.

I feel your pain; with the heat and humidity the past two summers, plus some weight gain, I've been battling occasional long-lasting boils on my hips, chafing and flaking skin on my stomach below the bra line, and acne on my chin. It feels awful to be have to fight to keep your skin healthy.
posted by limeonaire at 9:08 PM on September 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

Definitely see your doctor! I have a feeling this is not "acne" but some kind of fungal infection. Tinactin is a great thing to have on hand for when things start to get a little raw. Use it proactively. You could even try a dose of diaper cream if you have that on hand and see if it soothes. Then, go see a doctor. This sounds really uncomfortable and serious. You don't want to wind up with an abscess and/or infection!
posted by amanda at 9:26 PM on September 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

I think this is the same condition a loved one of mine has. Shhe needs regular dermatology visits. It is not acne. Would you memail me, please?
posted by SLC Mom at 9:37 PM on September 8, 2012

Yes, go see a doctor, get a diagnosis and a treatment plan. Also, don't re-wear a bra without washing.

You may want to consider investing in bra liners: Wick'em, Pambras, Bramates, Girlease, Harriet Carter. (Harriet Carter is the most basic model and the cheapest by far.) You might also find something similar in stores with a good bra dept.

During hot weather or after sweat inducing activities, you should change the liner to keep the area as dry as possible.

I haven't had much luck with powder products in that area but I've been looking at this stuff for a while. (I would like to try it in person before buying as it is a product for guys and I want to see how it smells before shelling out $14+shipping.
posted by jaimystery at 4:34 AM on September 9, 2012 [2 favorites]

Sounds like it could be staph or MRSA. Definitely see a doctor
posted by zia at 5:21 AM on September 9, 2012 [2 favorites]

This is doctor time
posted by Blasdelb at 5:37 AM on September 9, 2012

n-thing see a doctor- this doesn't sound like acne. I have large breasts and sweat a lot when I exercise, or when it's hot out, and I have never experienced anything like this. (I'm not really prone to acne, but I do break out on my face occasionally).
posted by bearette at 6:38 AM on September 9, 2012

I'm not a doctor, but I think you might be describing hidradenitis suppurativa.
posted by hot soup girl at 7:44 AM on September 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

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