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Intertrigo (rash under the breast)

A rash under your breast or breasts is usually caused by a skin condition called intertrigo. Learn more about the causes and how to treat it.

1. Rash under the breast

A rash under your breast or breasts, between the folds of skin, is usually caused by a benign (not cancer) skin condition called intertrigo.

It's a very common condition that can occur throughout life. You may hear it called candida intertrigo.

Symptoms of intertrigo include:

  • Red or reddish-brown rash
  • Raw, itchy or weeping skin with or without a smell
  • Cracked skin
  • Pain
  • Prickling sensation on the skin

Sometimes there can also be swelling, sores and blisters.

Symptoms can be mild, moderate or severe. For some people, intertrigo can severely impact quality of life.

2. What causes a rash under the breast?

The main causes of intertrigo are:

  • Moisture (such as sweating)
  • Heat
  • Lack of air circulating
  • Friction between skin folds (where skin rubs against skin)

A warm, moist environment encourages infection by yeast, fungus or bacteria.

Intertrigo can occur anywhere on the body where skin rubs against skin – such as between the thighs, the underside of the belly or the armpit.

3. Treating a rash under the breast

If you think you have intertrigo, speak to your GP as there are other skin conditions that look similar.

How the rash is treated depends on how severe it is and what’s causing it.

The aim of treatment is to:

  • Reduce the rubbing of skin on skin
  • Keep the area dry
  • Reduce inflammation and moisture
  • Treat any infection and stop it spreading

Your doctor or pharmacist may suggest treatments such as:

  • Barrier cream
  • Steroid cream
  • Anti-fungal powder or creams
  • Antiseptic wash
  • Antibiotic cream or tablets

Speak to your GP or pharmacist about which treatment is best for you.

4. Reducing the risk of getting a rash under the breast

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

  1. Wash under your breasts morning and night with a gentle soap or soap substitute (for example emulsifying ointment). You can ask your pharmacist about this.
  2. Dry the skin under your breasts thoroughly after washing – gently pat dry with a clean, soft towel or try using a hairdryer on a cool setting. Don’t share towels and wash them regularly to avoid spreading infection. If you have been recommended a particular moisturiser or cream, apply this to clean, dry skin.
  3. 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. If the skin is weeping, try to change your bra daily or use cotton dressings. You can ask your practice nurse for help with this.
  4. Maintain a healthy weight – eat healthily and exercise regularly.

5. Further support

If you would like any further information and support or just want to talk things through, our nurses are ready to listen via our free helpline below.

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Quality assurance

Last reviewed in September 2022. The next planned review begins in September 2025.

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