What It May Mean If Your Breasts Are Itchy (& Why You Most Likely Don't Need To Worry)

Let's get straight to the point: breasts can be a wonderful thing. No matter their size or shape, breasts aren't just a beautiful part of the human body, but an image that has been painted again and again during the Renaissance and beyond, symbolizing fertility and growth. Oh, and because they're so lovely!


While breasts can be easy on the eyes, they aren't issue-free. As anyone with breasts will tell you, they can be extremely painful both before and during menstruation, they can cause difficulty when sleeping on your stomach, especially during and after pregnancy, and sometimes they can be so darn itchy that you're losing your mind over the fact you can't give them a proper scratch in public.

Although itchy breasts can be an inconvenience and you may find yourself ducking behind the printer in the office to scratch the itchiness away, itchy breasts don't always mean something serious. Every part of the epidermis can get itchy, so here's what it means if it's happening to your breasts. 

You have eczema

Eczema is just one type of dermatitis that can affect the skin. Also known as atopic dermatitis, eczema can be a lifelong struggle for some people with occasional flare-ups that consist of not just itchiness, but dry skin and rashes. In some cases, eczema can cause the skin to ooze, which results in crusting — definitely not the most glamorous dermatitis to have, but also not the worst.


Eczema flair-ups on your breasts and nipples can be treated with moisturizers or ointments similar to Vaseline, combined with antihistamines which can help with the itching (via the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases). If these aren't making any difference, your doctor can prescribe a topical steroid to help reduce flair-ups and reduce itching. As is the case with all types of dermatitis, if you have eczema, it's important to be aware of what you put on your skin. Try to stay away from fabrics that are known irritants, like wool and certain synthetic materials, and stick to mild soaps and perfume-free detergents.

Your breasts have grown

If you've ever been pregnant, then you already know that when the skin stretches it gets super itchy — hence the reason you may often see pregnant people subtly scratching or rubbing their stomachs. Then once you give birth, the itchiness travels to the breasts as they become engorged with milk, again stretching the skin, in preparation for nursing.


But breast growth doesn't only come with pregnancy. Weight gain, puberty, and some hormonal birth control pills can make breasts get larger, contributing to the itch factor. Breasts can also increase in size during sex (via Cleveland Clinic). Yes! When we're aroused, blood starts flowing at an increased rate for a possible orgasm. Not only does that blood make its way to the genitals, but it can also flow into the breasts, temporarily increasing their size. While they may not be larger in size long enough to create itchiness, it doesn't mean that those with sensitive skin might not notice an itchy sensation. 

You're experiencing extreme temperatures

Although your breasts may not usually find themselves face-to-face with extreme heat or extreme cold, like your face and hands, it doesn't mean that temperature doesn't affect your breasts in one way or another. Just think about what your nipples do when the temperature drops — they immediately become erect because the areola contracts as a means to warm them up, similar to how we get goosebumps (via Healthline).


Excessive heat can lead to heat rashes on your breasts and even yeast infections on, under, or between them due to a buildup of sweat (via Healthline). Moreover, extreme cold temperatures can dry out breasts causing them to itch. It's important to keep your breasts as dry as possible during the summer months and moisturized as much as possible during the winter months. In fact, moisturizing your breasts with a mild lotion or cream as part of your daily routine is a good way to keep them happy and, for the most part, itch-free.

You're not washing your bras enough

As most experts will advise, bras should be washed every two to three wears. If you sweat a lot, then you should be washing them more. Bras that are worn for days and days on end automatically result in bacteria build-up. Even if you don't sweat in your bras — like ever — you still can't avoid bacteria from dirt, oil, and just your skin in general.


According to a 2022 study by Research Matters published in the National Institutes of Health, the skin has roughly a thousand different species of bacteria at all times. This microbiome is meant to keep our body healthy and fight off infection. But while this type of bacteria is there to protect us, it doesn't mean it won't cause skin irritation that shows up in the form of itchiness and/or rashes — especially when it's bacteria that comes from a dirty bra.

You should also wash your bras after you buy them and before you wear them. Not only do our clothes come in contact with irritants during the process of being made, but they usually travel a long way to get to the store where we purchased them, allowing germs and bacteria to possibly make a home on them. 


Your clothes are causing friction

Whether you wear a bra or go braless, sometimes our clothes can rub up against our breasts and cause friction — think Andy Bernard putting Band-Aids on his nipples before the Fun Run in "The Office" to prevent chafing. But as much as it's fun to laugh at Andy and his chafed nipples, this can be a real concern for some people! That's why it's important if you're feeling friction to change into something that isn't going to give your breasts and nipples a rubdown they don't want. Then make sure to moisturize. No one wants cracked and bleeding nipples like Andy Bernard!


For the most part, itchy breasts are no cause for alarm. In very rare cases, it can be a sign of breast cancer or Paget's disease, another form of breast cancer (via Verywell Health). If your breasts are severely itchy and you can't figure out the source and there's nipple discharge that includes blood, then you'll want to contact your doctor and make an appointment. This is also a reminder to do regular self-exams on your breasts to make sure everything feels as it should and your breast health is on the up and up.