Eczema is any type of non-contagious rash caused by skin inflammation. Breast eczema is eczema on any part of the breasts but is most often found around the nipples or on the lower part of the breasts. Breastfeeding women are more prone to this condition than other women. Cancer also can cause breast rashes in rare cases, so any mysterious breast marks should always be checked out by a doctor. Most of the time, however, breast eczema may cause painful itching and swelling but is not life-threatening.
Women who are breastfeeding new babies can get eczema around their nipples as a result of the inflammation caused by the baby suckling multiple times a day. Women who work out a lot and do not wear a proper sports bra also may be prone to breast eczema caused by sweat that gets trapped between the bra and the skin or in between the breasts. Typical symptoms of this condition include a red and flaky rash, itching, swelling and rough skin.
Skin hydration can be a good treatment for breast eczema. A doctor may recommend an over-the-counter lotion that can be used to ease the itching and pain. Prescription anti-inflammatory creams are sometimes prescribed for severe cases. Special ointments also can be ordered by a doctor to help nursing moms deal with eczema around the nipples. Petroleum jelly works as a good skin soother until a woman can get the doctor for evaluation.
Nursing women can prevent eczema of the breast area by alternating which breast the baby feeds from and by taking care of the nipples when bathing by washing them very gently. Women who have breast eczema and are not nursing need to make basic daily living changes to avoid getting breast rashes in the future. Bras should be washed often and changed frequently. Sweat-soaked sports bras should be removed as soon as possible after a workout.
Women with sensitive skin should be careful about what products they use. White, scentless soap is recommended over a scented soap for women who may be prone to eczema. Using clear and scentless laundry detergents also can help women to avoid skin irritation that can lead to eczema. When breast eczema symptoms are flaring, women should avoid scratching and instead apply ice packs or cool compresses to the skin. Suffers of eczema in the breast area also should stick to wearing cotton shirts and should stay away from wool sweaters that can cause extra irritation.