Skin problems in women with large breasts—and how to address them

Having ample in the bustline is often valued in our society.  But as with other types of assets, poor management of larger breasts can result in problems. Here are three conditions I treat more in patients who wear larger cup sizes and the stewardship recommended to prevent skin problems:

  1. Intertrigo- intertrigo is inflammation and breakdown of the skin barrier in a skin fold.  Skin folds are warmer, damper and experience more friction that non-folded areas of skin.  These conditions can result in a dermatitis much like diaper rash.  Larger breasts create larger folds, such as those between or under breasts, and therefore are more likely to create the conditions for intertrigo. 
  2. Yeast infections- Yeasts are a type of fungal organisms that also tend to like warm and moist body folds.  Two types of yeast infections can occur more commonly when someone has large breasts.  Candidal infections may present with beefy redness and satellite pustules under and between breasts.  A diagnosis of candidiasis is more commonly associated with a history of diabetes and may trigger screening.  Tinea versicolor is another type of yeast infection fond of the oilier areas of the body such as the face, neck, chest, back, as well as the body folds created by breasts.  This type of yeast infection is characterized by pink, brown, and white scaly macules on the infected areas. 
  3. Hyperpigmentation- Larger breasts require more support.  Narrow bra straps on ill-fitting bras sometimes dig into the shoulders causing skin discoloration and dents where the too narrow bra straps rest.

So how does one address the above problems in people with large breasts?  Yeast infections should be treated with topical or oral antifungal medication, however, they will soon return if the skin conditions that support them are not addressed.  A key component of addressing these skin issues when one has large breasts is to make sure one’s bra fits properly.  Bras that “lift and separate,” as described in the old Playtex “cross your heart” advertisement do more than create a particular silhouette.  Lifting and separating the breasts reduces the skin fold and prevents the development of the friction and dampness that cause these problems.  Although push up bras may be popular, they are not a good idea for everyday if one suffers with intertrigo and yeast infections as they create deeper folds.   Sometimes women who sweat more need additional relief from a bra liners that wicks the moisture away from the skin.  Comfortslings® which are designed to be worn without a bra, even while sleeping, can also be helpful in recovering from intertrigo and yeast infections as they pull the breasts apart, exposing the skin folds which prevents friction and dampness.   If the problem is the digging into the skin of the bra straps strap cushions may be needed for additional protection and support.    

Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Posted in: General Dermatology, Uncategorized