Breast eczema: symptoms, treatment and causes

Eczéma mammaire : symptômes, traitement et causes the asian woman in nightwear sleepless because royalty free image 1665602522

You feel chest discomfort, take off your shirt to check and see red, irritated patches of skin, it may be eczema, also called atopic dermatitis. But don’t panic just yet. If a doctor confirms that you have breast eczema, there are simple ways to soothe the sensitive skin in that area.

Read on to find out what exactly breast eczema is and how to get relief.

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What causes eczema on your breast?

Eczema in general is caused by a family history, allergies or asthma, and exposure to irritants in your environment, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. If your immune system is particularly sensitive, it can also overreact to things like pollen or pollution, causing a flare-up. The National Eczema Association reports that one in 10 people will develop eczema in their lifetime.

Breast eczema also occurs when your skin reacts to something irritating or to which you are allergic. “Caring for your skin is the best way to prevent and improve it,” says Cula N. Svidzsinki, MD, PhD, assistant professor of dermatology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York. The first questions to ask yourself: Am I using new products in this area? Does the fabric of my new shirt irritate my skin? Easy detective work can instantly find out the reason for the problem.

What does breast eczema look like?

Breast eczema can present as a scaly, inflamed, itchy rash, just as it does on other parts of the body. Know this, however: according to Cleveland ClinicBreast eczema can bear a strong resemblance to Paget’s disease, which is a rare form of breast cancer. Symptoms of both conditions can include discoloration of your nipple area, a flat or inverted nipple, itching, tingling, crusting, thick skin, and blood leaking or yellow discharge around your nipple. However, Paget’s disease usually appears in just one breast, while eczema can appear all over the breast.

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Nevertheless, if you have any of the above symptoms, you want to see your doctor. “The most important thing is to make sure there is no underlying breast disease,” says Mona Gohara, MD, associate clinical professor of dermatology at Yale University School of Medicine. “All your breast imaging – mammograms and ultrasounds – should be up to date. »

You may also develop a specific type of eczema on your breasts called nummular eczema, which is characterized by red skin lesions that look like coins. A study by Japanese researchers found that nummular eczema can occur on the breasts as a skin complication of reconstructive surgery after breast reconstruction. Discuss this with your surgeon and dermatologist if you experience it.

Can I have eczema on my nipples?

You can indeed. Cleveland Clinic also points out that signs of breast eczema to look for include an inflamed, itchy rash around your areola and on your nipples; brown, red, or gray patches on the skin around your nipples; small skin bumps in the area that ooze; and dry skin that may form crusts. It can also cause a burning sensation when breastfeeding.

Eczema on your nipples can occur when your clothes rub against your skin. An AA study by Koren scientists found that eczema on your nipples is most often caused by an allergic reaction. It’s very common to have this kind of reaction to soap, washing powder or body lotion.

Often your doctor will recommend a low potency topical steroid cream to clear up eczema. If you have eczema on or around your nipples and you are breastfeeding, the National Eczema Association recommends applying this type of cream after breastfeeding, to give it time to penetrate your skin. Use as little cream as possible, as there is evidence of growth problems and high blood pressure in babies following prolonged skin contact with these medicines. For this reason and/or discomfort, you may prefer to express your milk during eczema flare-ups. “Moisten the flange of the bottle with petroleum jelly to minimize friction while pumping,” says Dr. Svidzsinki.

You can’t completely cure eczema, but you can do a lot to prevent flare-ups. “A mild soap-free cleanser and fragrance-free moisturizer are good places to start,” says Dr. Gohara. Also, be sure to wash your clothes thoroughly. “If you wear bras, be sure to use a clear, fabric softener-free laundry detergent,” adds Dr. Gohara.

Dr. Svidzsinki offers the following simple advice:

  • Reduce your shower time to 15 minutes and use lukewarm water, not hot
  • Avoid rubbing your breasts with a washcloth or loofah, which can cause micro tears or skin irritation
  • Wear unpadded cotton bras if possible, as foam padding traps particles like allergens, which can be very irritating to your skin.

The real key to dealing with breast eczema: Treat your skin as gently as possible and you’ll reduce the chance of an uncomfortable rash.

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