What causes breast itch?

Breast itch may have many possible causes, including allergens (agents that cause allergies), infections, autoimmune disorders, or other causes such as stress.

Allergic causes of breast itch

Breast itch may be caused by contact dermatitis. Common triggers include:

  • Cosmetics, dyes or detergents
  • Industrial chemicals, such as those found in elastic, latex and rubber
  • Metallic substances (various metals, copper, wire)
  • Poison ivy or oak

Other allergic causes of breast itch include:

  • Eczema (skin disorder causing scaly or blistering rashes that may be caused by allergy)
  • Food allergies (allergic reactions to certain foods)
  • Insect bite allergy such as a bee sting

Infectious causes of breast itch

Breast itch can also be caused by infections including:

  • Candidiasis (yeast infection)
  • Chickenpox
  • Eczema (skin disorder causing scaly or blistering rashes that may be caused by infection)
  • Pinworm
  • Scabies

Other causes of breast itch

Other factors can cause breast itch, such as:

  • Extreme cold or heat
  • Medications
  • Neurodermatitis (extreme itching)
  • Pregnancy
  • Psoriasis
  • Stress

Serious or life-threatening causes of breast itch

In some cases, breast itch may be a symptom of a serious or life-threatening condition that should be evaluated immediately in an emergency setting. These include:

  • Anaphylaxis (a potentially life-threatening allergic reaction)
  • Chronic renal failure (also called chronic kidney disease)
  • Inflammatory breast cancer
  • Obstructive biliary disease (obstruction of the bile ducts)

Questions for diagnosing the cause of breast itch

To diagnose your condition, your doctor or licensed health care practitioner will ask you several questions related to your itch including:

  • When did the itching begin?
  • Are you taking any medications?
  • Do you have any known allergies?
  • Do you feel otherwise healthy?
  • Have you tried any new products recently, such as soaps, perfumes or sprays?
  • Have you spent a lot of time outdoors lately?
  • Does scratching make it better or worse?

What are the potential complications of breast itch?

An itch is not usually serious, but in rare cases, it can be a symptom of a serious condition that may have severe complications. You should contact your health care professional to rule out any serious conditions. Once the underlying cause of your itch is diagnosed, it is important for you to follow the treatment plan that you and your health care professional design specifically for you to reduce the risk of potential complications including:

  • Secondary infections, which may develop from scratching and related skin trauma
  • Spread of cancer

References:

Itching. Medline Plus, a service of the National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/itching.html. Accessed April 20, 2011.

Pruritus. American Academy of Dermatology. http://www.aad.org/public/publications/pamphlets/common_pruritus.html. Accessed April 20, 2011.

INTRODUCTION

What is breast itch?

An itch is a tickling, irritating sensation accompanied by the persistent need to scratch. The medical term for itching is pruritus. In the breast, redness, swelling, soreness, flaking and scarring may occur in the area of itching. Although scratching may temporarily relieve your symptoms, it can cause more irritation or lead to infection. With most cases of itching, it is best if you can ... Read more about breast itchintroduction

SYMPTOMS

What other symptoms might occur with breast itch?

Breast itch may be accompanied by other symptoms, depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition. Certain conditions that cause breast itch may also involve other body systems.... Read more about breast itchsymptoms

Medical Reviewer: All content has been reviewed by board-certified physicians under the direction of Rich Klasco, M.D., FACEP. Last Annual Review Date: May 2, 2011 Copyright: © Copyright 2011 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Skin, Hair and Nails


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