Intertrigo (rash under the breast)

A rash under your breast or breasts, between the folds of skin, is usually caused by a skin condition called intertrigo.

What causes a rash under the breast? 

Intertrigo happens when skin folds rub together causing friction and trapping moisture. It can lead to:

  • a red or reddish-brown rash
  • raw, itchy or weeping skin with or without a smell
  • cracked skin

Intertrigo (sometimes called candida intertrigo) can be anywhere on the body where skin rubs against skin, for example between the thighs, on the underside of the belly or the armpits.

A warm moist environment encourages infection by yeast, fungus or bacteria. Sometimes swelling, sores and blisters can also occur.

How to treat a rash under the breast

How the rash is treated depends on how severe it is.

The aim of treatment is to reduce the rubbing of skin on skin, reduce the inflammation and moisture, and to treat any infection and stop it spreading.

The first step is usually to look at ways to stop the skin rubbing and keep the area dry.

Other treatments such as barrier creams, steroid creams, anti-fungal creams and/or antibiotics creams or tablets are usually considered case by case as it isn’t clear how useful these are.

Reducing your risk

There are some simple things you can do to reduce your risk of getting intertrigo and stop any infection from getting worse.

  • Wash under your breasts morning and night with a soap substitute (for example emulsifying ointment). Ask your pharmacist about this.
  • Dry the skin under your breasts thoroughly after washing – pat dry gently with a clean soft towel. You can also use a hairdryer on a cool setting. This can be very effective, especially if you have large breasts.
  • Wear a well-fitting supportive bra made from a natural material such as cotton. Man-made materials such as nylon can trap moisture. It can help to wear a cotton top under your bra. Change your bra every day.
  • Losing weight may help to reduce the areas where skin can rub against skin.
Last reviewed: October 2016
Next planned review begins 2018

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