On the flip side, wearing the wrong bra (both size and fabric) can also cause irritation from chafing. “You want to be careful of the fabric you’re using and [avoid] harsh detergents,” says Dr. Haque. Dermatologists recommend cotton bras and undergarments because they are less abrasive against the skin.
Other reasons for dry skin on your breasts and nipples could include cold or dry air, irritating fragrances or body products, and overly hot showers, say our dermatologists. Dr. Love also says eczema (a condition that causes the skin to become red, itchy, scaly, and inflamed) could be a possible diagnosis even if you’ve never had it before or don’t have it anywhere else on your body.
“[The breast area] is not an uncommon place for eczema to appear. And it can occur in people who have had a history of eczema in different places over the years or it can happen because the skin gets dry or irritated, particularly this time of year when it’s dry outside,” says Dr. Love.
There can also be hormonal factors at play when it comes to dryness on the breasts. “Most of the time, when women experience [excessive] dryness in the nipple and areola area it’s due to a hormonal imbalance — whether it’s pregnancy or menopause,” says Dr. Haque. She explains that the skin on and around the breasts can become dry or irritated during pregnancy due to an increase in progesterone and estrogen that can cause the skin to become thinner, making it increasingly susceptible to dryness. There can also be a fluctuation in these hormones for people who menstruate, leading to the same result.
When should you see a dermatologist about dry nipples and breasts?
That depends. If the dryness you’re experiencing is recent, Dr. Love recommends asking yourself questions like, What is different in my routine in the past week? Did I buy a new undergarment? Has the weather suddenly changed? But, as we said, if you are pregnant or going through menopause, this could be a clear cause of dryness on your breasts, and Dr. Haque suggests sharing your symptoms with your ob-gyn.
Say the dryness and irritation aren’t going away after two weeks of simple swaps like trading your satin bra for a cotton one. In this case, Dr. Love recommends seeing a dermatologist for more clarity. “Sometimes it can be helpful just to see a professional. Typically it’s easier for us to connect the dots because we know the things to ask [about],” she says. A dermatologist will also be better able to determine if the dryness is, in fact, eczema and can provide a more targeted treatment.
What products can help treat dry nipples?
You don’t need an entire skin-care routine dedicated to your boobs, but experts agree that you should be intentional with how you treat dryness in that area. “It is very sensitive, so it’s an area that you want to be thoughtful about,” says Dr. Love. The dermatologist recommends showering with gentle, fragrance-free cleansers like Dove Beauty Bar Sensitive Skin and Aveeno Skin Relief body wash.