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What could cause discoloration of skin?

9 answers | Last updated: Mar 29, 2015
An anonymous caregiver asked...

I have begun to have discoloration of skin show up underneath my breasts in the last few months. They look like sunspots or random red "blotches". My health has actually been pretty good the past couple of months, even my allergies. Because my family has a history with cancer, including breast cancer, I try to always be aware of any changes. Is this something I should be worried about? Should I have it checked out? What could be the possible causes of skin discoloration?


Caring.com User - Jennifer Serafin, N.P.
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Jennifer Serafin, N.P. is a registered nurse and geriatric nurse practitioner at the Jewish Homes for the Aged in San Francisco.
42% helpful

This is actually a common problem, and one that is easy to treat. This condition is called intertrigo, a skin infection from yeast. It occurs under the breasts (and other See also:
10 Things Your Skin Says About Your Health
skin folds), since yeast love to live where it is moist and warm.

To help the problem, you should make sure that you cleanse the area daily and dry the skin thoroughly before putting on your bra or other clothes. You can use an over the counter anti-fungal cream (like clotrimazole) for a week or two to help get rid of the rash. Once the rash is gone, continue to keep the area clean and dry, as the rash can easily return. You can apply cornstarch powder under the breasts, which can help absorb excess moisture to help keep the rash away.

Regarding your comments about breast cancer, the first symptom is usually a firm lump that you would feel in the breast tissue. Therefore, you should check yourself monthly with a breast self exam and get mammograms yearly to reduce your risk.


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75% helpful
LindaSD answered...

I found cornstarch based baby powders made the infection worse-the cornstarch seemed to "feed" the yeast making it worse. When I went through menopause and was sweating something horrible, I had a horrible time getting rid of this under breast yeast infection. Over the counter clotrimazole would get rid of it but sweating brought it back constantly. My doctor gave me a prescription yeast solution which actually burned my skin worse than the infection. I was red rash and the skin started to turn black in color. It itched and burned something terrible. Oh my, jock itch under the boobs. How embarrassing! A yeast infection is so miserable.

I finally found "Caldesene" protecting powder with Zinc Oxide and Talc worked great. The talc rather than the cornstarch stopped the yeast growth and the zinc oxide added a layer of waterproof powder that when I sweat, stopped the sweating there. Put it on every morning after my shower and no more problems. It's sold in the baby area of any drug store, pink plastic powder bottle.

Finding clotrimazole meant I had to buy vaginal yeast infection medication since I could not find it any other way. I found that the only thing that stopped the infection was stopping the wetness from sweating. Here in Florida and my menopause made that impossible without the help of the zinc in the powder.

Good luck.


100% helpful
Daisy3rc answered...

I found that a skin protectant that is used for diaper rash gave the most help. Looks like the main ingredient is Zinc Oxide and it keeps the area dry. Daisy


100% helpful
magintob answered...

I used Mexsana medicated powder or Ammens powder (not the scented ones) after showering and drying the area completely. And I made sure NOT to wash my underwear using harsh detergents as they would aggravate the itching.


100% helpful
Kedi answered...

I have been using Basis soap rather than liquid body washes. I believe body washes can cause the problem.


martie answered...

I Have had this problem just in the last couple of year's but remembered my Mom had the same problem...I tried many creams, the best is "Neosporne, Pain and itch." But i have also found that before getting dressed to wipe with a disposeable cleansing wipe. It's cooling and dries fast.


100% helpful
Dr Mark answered...

Intertrigo (sweat rash) is certainly worth considering, however it is not caused by a fungus - it is caused by the combination of heat, friction and moisture resulting in maceration of the skin and usually very tender. Fungal infection then can be a secondary complication - most often candida albicans and that's where an antifungal such as miconazole or clotrimazole may assist. A combination of zinc bassed cream, antifungal and low dosed steroid would assist. You should see your doctor for a proper diagnosis. You mention 'discolouration like "sunspots" in addition to "red blotches" if the discolouration is tan as well as red the you need to consider erythrasma - a condition caused by a bacterium called corynebacterium minutissium and it responds to an antiobiotic called erythromycin, it is NOT responsive to antifungals - see your doctor for a proper diagnosis. You also need to consider a less common form of psoriasis called inverse psoriasis (or flexural psoriasis)- see your doctor for a porper diagnosis. A more rare consideration for persisting rash is Cutaneous T cell lymphoma - you doctor will help eliminate this on examination and further testing if necessary. Finally with regard to your concern about breast cancer - there are actually several forms - principally ductal, lobular, invasive, pagetoid and lastly inflammatory. Inflammatory breast cancer can cause skin symtoms and does NOT present as a "lump" so self examination will not help here,so I really feel you need to see your doctor for a proper diagnosis. Hope this helps.


RN JGZ answered...

Thanks to all for many good suggestions. As an RN and one who lives with the condition, you need to realize you could have more than one thing going on - so if it doesn't respond rapidly to the simple type treatments - call your doctor. Cornstarch is not the answer if it's yeast - it'll promote it. I use the hair dryer, cotton gauze in the areas that overlap, handwash my bras in hypoallergenic detergent, rinsed very well, line dry - no additive softeners, cotton bras. If you're like me and lived with the backaches & these kinds of rashes you know having big breasts is not all it's cracked up to be!


An anonymous caregiver answered...

I had ductal carcinoma (breast cancer 8 years ago). I went through all the treatments and have been pretty healthy. I have also notice some skin discolorations under my breasts, my upper belly, and my arms. I am African America and dark skinned but I can see the discolorations are darker than my skin tone. My last mammogram, about nine months ago was good - should I be worried about a recurrence?