Advice Needed: Itchy Skin Under The Bra Band

   "Under my breasts, along the bandline, I get itchy. Painfully so. I will then scratch (as discreetly as I can!) until I've torn my skin raw. :( It's much worse when I get hot and sweaty, but it's a problem always, every day. It doesn't matter what type of material the bra is made of, and it happens even if I'm bra-less at home all day. It happens with brand-new bras on the first day.
   What I've been doing for years is, ideally twice a day (morning, night), I dip a clean q-tip into tea tree oil, and draw a line with it along the problem area. This helps somewhat but doesn't fully relieve the itching, and definitely doesn't solve the problem. If I miss a day or two, I'm back to scratching off a few layers of skin. (The tea tree oil doesn't irritate my skin, thankfully.)

   So, that's it. Let me know if you have ideas or questions. I'm waiting for health insurance to see a dermatologist, but I know her suggestion will be a medication of some sort. While I'm not totally against that, I'd like to avoid it because many medications aren't vegan (as I am), and I don't want, say, a steroid cream that thins the skin and could cause its own set of problems."

   This popped into the mailbox a while back. I have been thinking what to advise D, and though I did come up with a couple of suggestions, I'd definitely love to hear some advice from you all!

   After thinking about this for a while, here are a couple of possible causes and solutions:

   Clothes detergent:

     Regular detergents for the washing-machine can be pretty harsh on the skin. Switch yours for a natural product, or something meant for babies or people with allergies. I like Ecover stuff, but my personal favourite are washnuts. They are ecological, do their job well, and are extremely skin-friendly! On that note, avoid fabric softeners or dryer sheets. Use vinegar in the last rinse if your water is hard, and add a couple of drops of essential oil to get things to smell better. Brand-new fabrics usually have traces of chemicals on them that are used to process and dye the fabrics, so you might want to wash them a couple of times before first wear.

Contact Allergy

    You might have an allergy to the metal the underwires are made out of, for eg. nickel. If you do have a nickel allergy, you might probably have to write to bra producers asking them what their underwires are made out of, and hopefully you'll locate some nickel-free ones.
   However allergies may also appear in body parts that have not touched the allergy-causing substance. The allergy can appear on body parts where the skin is dry / delicate / gets rubbed by clothing. It might take a bit of time and observation to find the culprit for your problem. Detergents are a common culprit, so do switch your body products (soap, shampoo, body lotion) to hypo-allergenic / natural ones (cleansers without SLS, everything without perfume). Also, try to find gentle house-cleaning products.

Food allergy

    Often skin allergies are caused by foods, or by things you breathe in (dust, mold, animals). Common culprits is sea food, chocolate, spicy stuff, nuts, sugar, citrus fruit, milk and moldy cheeses. Have you noticed your skin getting worse after certain kinds of food?

Pityriasis rosea

    This is a skin disease that is benign but can be pretty uncomfortable. It does goes away on its own within a few weeks. You can recognise it by the "herald patch" which appears first and is slightly bigger.

Atopic dermatitis

   This skin problem is closely connected with stress, so a good way of dealing with it is taking care of yourself. You probably know what it is you need :)

Dry skin

   Skin that is too dry is more prone to irritations. Try keeping your skin moisturised -- I'd suggest an oil or a hypoallergenic cream applied after showers or at night when you won't be wearing a bra. Tea-tree oil is amazing for skin irritations, but it can be a tad drying, so moisturising the area would be a good idea.


   A zinc-based cream should calm the irritation. These are usually available in drugstores without a prescription.

Calm the skin with potato starch

   Take two cups of potato starch, mix with a little bit of cold water, then pour some boiling water in it. Add this to your bath water, it really calms the irritation.

Silicium supplements

    A lack of silicium in the body makes the skin very sensitive to the environment. Try eating foods rich in silicium or taking it as a supplement.

   It is not easy to find the cause of a skin problem. On days that your skin gets worse (or better), ask yourself what did you do different? Other than that, I'd suggest going bra-less for a week if possible to give the skin a chance to heal, or trying to wear a bra on top of a thin tank top. It's great that you want to avoid steroids -- they work wonders short-term, but can really wreak havoc on the skin.

    Now, over to you, lovely readers. What would you advise D? Are any of you struggling with similar issues?

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