A breast yeast infection is a type of inflammatory skin condition that develops in skin folds. A yeast infection, also called candidiasis, occurs when Candida yeasts grow uncontrollably.
A yeast infection can develop in many different parts of the body, including the:
- mouth and throat
Candida yeasts are a type of fungus that lives naturally on the surface of the skin and inside the gastrointestinal tract, mouth, and vagina in up to 70% of healthy people.
Normal levels of Candida yeasts support overall health. However, having too much Candida can disrupt the delicate balance of microorganisms living in the body. A disruption in this balance can lead to candidiasis.
There are more than 150 species of Candida yeasts, but researchers believe that only about 20 of these species can cause infections.
Keep reading to find out more about breast yeast infection, including the symptoms, causes, and treatment options. We also discuss other similar conditions.
A yeast infection can cause a shiny red rash either in the skin folds underneath and around the breasts or on the nipples.
As with yeast infections in other parts of the body, a yeast infection on the breasts can cause the following symptoms:
- patches of small round bumps
- blisters or pustules that contain foul-smelling pus
Yeast infections underneath or around the breasts can cause intertrigo, a rash that develops in skin folds. Bacteria and fungi other than Candida can also cause intertrigo.
People who have a yeast infection will rarely transmit the infection to another person. In most cases, a person will only develop a yeast infection if an overgrowth of yeast occurs on or inside their body.
Although the majority of people develop intertrigo from Candida overgrowth, bacteria and other fungi can cause similar symptoms.
Several other conditions may also cause very similar symptoms. Other conditions that may resemble candidiasis of the skin or intertrigo include:
Candida yeasts thrive in warm, moist environments, such as the inside of the mouth, the intestines, and skin folds.
Women may develop a yeast infection on their breast while pregnant or breastfeeding.
Wearing poorly fitted shirts or bras can cause irritating friction against the skin or result in sweat becoming trapped in the folds of the skin.
Having excess body fat can create skin folds where yeast infections may develop.
Several factors can increase a person's risk of developing a yeast infection on their breasts. These risk factors include:
People can treat yeast infections on the breast with over-the-counter (OTC) or prescription antifungal ointments, creams, and oral tablets.
Mild-to-moderate yeast infections typically clear up with the use of an OTC antifungal cream, such as clotrimazole (Mycelex). Keeping the affected skin clean and dry can help speed up the healing process and lower the risk of reinfection.
Severe yeast infections that do not respond to OTC treatments may require a stronger antifungal, such as ketoconazole (Nizoral), for which a prescription from a doctor is necessary.
People should speak with a doctor if they do not notice improvements after antifungal treatment or experience worsening symptoms.
People who have a yeast infection on the breast may experience recurring infections.
People who have type 2 diabetes or a weakened immune system and women who are pregnant have an increased risk of developing yeast infections, according to the National Organization for Rare Disorders.
However, people can reduce their risk of developing a yeast infection by:
- wearing breathable clothes and undergarments
- washing thoroughly after swimming and working out
- eating a balanced diet high in vegetables and fruits and low in simple carbohydrates and processed foods
- maintaining a healthy body weight
- managing underlying health conditions, such as diabetes, that may contribute to yeast infections
People can develop intertrigo under the breasts as a result of a breast yeast infection.
Yeast infections on the skin may resemble other skin conditions, such as eczema, dermatitis, or ringworm. A doctor can diagnose yeast infections by examining a skin sample for signs of yeast overgrowth.
People who have breast yeast infections can treat their symptoms with OTC or prescription antifungal medications.
Having a weakened immune system, living with diabetes, or being pregnant can increase a person's risk of developing yeast infections.
People can speak with their doctor about lifestyle changes and medical treatments for recurring yeast infections.