Breast Problems

Can nipple eczema cause a rash in another area of the breast too?

Eczema of the nipple is actually quite common, especially in those who suffer with eczema elsewhere. It usually causes an itchy, scaly and dry appearance to the areola (the darker skin around the nipple). It can effect one or both nipples. Sometimes it can be triggered by contact with things such as soaps of perfumes, but there may not always be an obvious cause.

If you have newly developed symptoms, you can initially manage it as you would eczema anywhere. I would normally recommend using a good moisturiser (such as an emollient), applying multiple times daily, and you may also need to apply a low-strength steroid cream (such as hydrocortisone 1%), usually twice a day.

If the symptoms recur or do not respond quickly (I would say after 1 week), then you should speak to your doctor about it. You should also see your doctor straight away if you develop any nipple discharge symptoms, or inversion or dimpling around the nipple.

There is another condition of the nipple which can look a little like eczema, but does not improve with this treatment. This is known as Paget’s disease of the nipple – it is a rare form of cancer. Any nipple symptoms that are not responding to treatment do need further assessment.

The skin on the rest of the breast can also be affecting by rashes, just as skin can anywhere on the body. Eczema, fungal infections, urticaria and psoriasis are all skin conditions that can also affect the skin on the breast. If you suffer with these normally, you can try your usual treatment. However, as with the nipple, if it does not respond quickly you should consult your doctor. If you have never had the rash before, then I would always advise consulting with your doctor before initiating any treatment.

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