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chest pain

Breast Itch

By

Healthgrades Editorial Staff

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 refrain from scratching and leave the area alone to heal.

Causes of breast itch vary and may include insect bites, allergies, trauma, and infections. The skin fold beneath the breast is a warm, shaded, moist area – a perfect environment for germs to grow. Fungal skin infections can thrive there. One of the itchiest infections you can contract is chickenpox, an extremely common childhood illness.

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When wounds are healing they often start to itch, which is a sign of improvement. Eczema, contact dermatitis, scabies, and pinworm are other sources of itching. Breast itch can also be a symptom of inflammatory breast cancer, an aggressive form of breast cancer.

Most causes of breast itch are fairly mild and should not be a cause for concern. However, your health care provider should evaluate itching that is sudden, severe or unusual. Itching caused by a serious food allergy can come on rapidly with a strong need to scratch. This type of itching may be symptomatic of a serious anaphylactic reaction, which impairs breathing, causes swelling, fainting, and vomiting, and is considered a medical emergency.

Sudden itching can be a sign of anaphylaxis, a severe, life-threatening allergic reaction to a food, chemical, or insect sting. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if an itch is accompanied by any serious symptoms, including swelling of the face, swelling or constriction of the throat, difficulty breathing, fainting, change in level of consciousness or alertness, or rash.


Medical Reviewers: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Review Date: Oct 16, 2016

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Medical References

  1. Itching. Medline Plus, a service of the National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/itching.html.
  2. Pruritus. American Family Physician. http://www.aafp.org/afp/2003/0915/p1135.html.

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