I’ve been working with a regular reader who shall, for reasons which will be obvious in a few moments, remain anonymous. Her problem is not as uncommon as it may seem — in fact, I bet a number of you ladies will find yourself astonished to find out both that you are not alone with this problem and how easily it can be fixed. Our story begins with an email…
After some compliments on this blog, “S” confesses the following with such acute embarrassment that you can feel her blushing:
OK, here goes… I hope this is not too gross :deep breath in, then out:
I have a big bust (38 DD) and I have some sort of break-out on my breasts — it’s NOT heat rash (though I have been “blessed” with such things in summers past, I do know how to manage that) and it’s not even under my breasts. The break out is between my breasts — not on the breast bone, but on the sides of my breasts. My cleavage, so to speak, even though it is covered by my bra.
They don’t itch or anything like a rash… They seem just like regular pimples in that they get a bit red, come to a head and disappear. But there’s always a few there. And the breast skin is so thin that it tends to leave marks or tiny scars or discolored spots even after the pimple is gone.
I did ask my doctor (most embarrassing) and got the old, “you’re over 30 now” (most annoying) and he really didn’t consider a few pimples to be a real medical problem. (You just know if it was a male problem, he’d have alerted Mayo’s clinic, right?) It’s important to me. I’d like to feel prettier.
I’ve never had break out on my face or any other place like this — not even when I was pregnant and so I feel like I must be able to do something… I tried zit creams and stuff. It does clear them up faster, but it doesn’t stop them from coming. Plus it’s really harsh on the delicate skin there. I think it also might be making the discoloration problem worse.
Anyway, on the off chance that you know anything — and that I haven’t grossed you out too much?!! — I thought I’d ask.
Poor “S”! Poor anyone else who suffers from this problem! But I do have answers.
First of all, I must make that legal disclaimer about not being a doctor or any sort of medical professional (I’ve never been on one TV either lol). But since “S” has gone to her doctor — and I’m counting on you, dear readers, to care enough about yourselves to do the same…
I wrote “S” back, including my disclaimer, and then I reminded her that I’d only be operating off of what she told me, not anything I could see — but that I was pretty sure I knew what was going on.
I then asked her to put on one of her bras, to look down at her cleavage area, and tell me what she saw — specifically, did the front center of the bra, the fabric center part that joins the underwired cups, fit flush against her breastbone?
I was betting that, even if the cups seemed to fit properly, the center wasn’t.
“S” wrote back, shocked:
How did you know it wasn’t??!
It’s simple, really. The area where break-out was appearing between her breasts was where the ill-fitting underwrires were moving when she moved, rubbing her skin, irritating it, much like the irritation and chafing a person will have when their thighs rub together when they walk. Only this is much easier to fix than losing weight.
The solution is simple: Get a properly fitting bra.
When the center of the bra is not sitting up against the center of your chest, it’s a sign that the bra cup is too small. So go get properly fitted for a bra. Or, if there’s no bra fitter in your area (and let’s face it, too many stores that sell bras are not educating their sales staff), try on bras, increasing bra cup size until that center of the bra is sitting where it ought to.
I blew her mind again when I told her she probably had occasional break-out, with bigger “zits” (which can lead to cellulitis), on the outer-sides of her breasts too. (She did; but hadn’t mentioned it because such blemishes were so rare.)
How did I know that too?
Again, a too-small bra cup means that the underwires weren’t properly fitting under her arm, either. Instead of rubbing, the wires were pressing into the tender breast and in a place where there’s not only more heat, but more sweat too.
Underwires should be completely off any breast tissue, on any side, at any time you are wearing it. Break-outs and blemishes are the least of your worries if bras don’t fit right.
Since I first talked with “S”, she’s found her proper bra size (she’s now a 36 F — that’s a big difference!), and wears only properly fitting bras — and has no more break outs.
So ladies, if this is happening to you, get yourself bras that fit right.
And while you’re waiting for the break outs to heal, gently wash and dry the skin, put some triple antibiotic ointment on the afflicted areas, and use Band-aids too. The ointment will help heal (and prevent scarring and discoloration), while the Band-aids will help prevent additional rubbing as well as keep your bras clean (of both the ointment and bacteria) so that you won’t compound and/or perpetuate the problems.