If you get shingles under the breast, you’ll notice a blistering rash that extends sideways toward your back. You may experience pain, itchiness, and general flu-like symptoms for up to 5 weeks.

If you’ve had chickenpox, you could get shingles (herpes zoster) later in life if the varicella-zoster virus reactivates.

A shingles rash may develop anywhere in your body, including the face, although it’s more common in the torso. When it affects the nerve pathways supplying the chest, a rash around or under one breast that extends in a swath-like formation to the back may appear.

Rashes under the breast in males and females may result from multiple conditions, making it hard to diagnose shingles at home. Consulting a healthcare professional is advised.

Shingles may cause early symptoms before a rash becomes evident. Some of these symptoms may mimic a common cold or the flu.

You may experience:

  • fatigue
  • fever
  • sensitivity to light
  • chills
  • headache

You may also have localized symptoms around and under the breast, even if you can’t see a rash yet. These symptoms may include:

  • pain, ranging from mild to intense
  • itching
  • tingling or pin and needle sensations
  • burning
  • sensitivity to touch, including light touch

You may feel as if something is constantly rubbing against your skin causing a burning sensation.

The shingles pain may peak as a rash starts developing. You may notice raised bumps first and then tiny fluid-filled blisters will appear. The rash may take anywhere between 4 days and 2 weeks to develop.

Shingles rashes are distinctive in that they appear in clusters and follow a strip- or belt-like area on one side of the body only. They may resemble a burn.

In its early stages, shingles can look bright red, especially on light skin. On dark skin, the rash may appear discolored, skin-toned, or darker than the surrounding area.

No matter what your skin tone, a shingles rash will have tiny fluid-filled blisters in it. When the blisters start to dry out and scab over, the rash may turn brown on light skin and gray on dark skin tones.

You may also experience itching after the shingles rash has healed.

Pictures of shingles under the breast on light and dark skin

Here’s what a shingles rash beneath the breast may look like on different skin tones in both males and females.

Other conditions that may cause a rash under the breast

ConditionRash and skin appearancePainItchingOther symptoms
ShinglesRed, fluid-filled blisters in a band on one side of the bodyYesYesFatigue, flu-like symptoms
EczemaRedness, hives in a single cluster or multiple clusters. Flaky, dry skinNoYes
Dermatomyositis (a rare autoimmune disease)Dusky red or purple rash around the neck and under the breast in a shawl shapeNoNoMuscle weakness, joint pain, fever
PsoriasisRed patches covered in thick, silver scales. Dry, cracked skinYesYesBurning and soreness. Thick nails. Swollen joints
Poison ivyRed, itchy skin. Swelling and blisters.YesYes
Candidiasis (yeast infection)Discolored, itchy skin.NoYesBlisters, pustules, cracked skin

Consulting a healthcare professional is highly advised if you experience any painful rash or one that doesn’t heal or improve.

Shingles is highly contagious, so you may also want to confirm the diagnosis to take the corresponding precautions. If you are nursing a baby, you may also want to cover the rash around your breast and avoid direct contact between this area and your baby.

Early treatment with prescription antiviral medications may reduce the severity and duration of shingles. It could also reduce the possibility of complications, such as skin infections and long-term pain (postherpetic neuralgia) due to nerve damage.

Shingles is caused by the reactivation of the chickenpox virus. You can’t get shingles unless you’ve already had chickenpox. Anyone who has had chickenpox, either as a child or adult, can get shingles.

The varicella-zoster virus that causes chickenpox doesn’t leave the body, even after the illness resolves. Instead, it lodges in the nerve endings located near the spine and brain. Shingles occurs when the varicella-zoster virus becomes reactivated.

If the virus reactivates in the nerve pathways that innervate the chest area, you may develop symptoms under and around one breast.

Risk factors for shingles

Having a weakened immune system is the most common contributing factor to getting shingles. This may be related to:

  • Age: Shingles can occur at any age, but it’s most common in people over 50.
  • Chronic conditions: Living with a condition that compromises your immune system may increase your chances of shingles. For example, HIV/AIDS and cancer. Taking medications that
  • Radiation and chemotherapy: Treatment for cancer may lead you to be immunosuppressed, making shingles more likely to occur.
  • Immunosuppression medications: If you have undergone an organ transplant or live with a chronic inflammatory condition, the medications you take may depress your immune system function.
  • Physical and emotional stress: Chronic and intense stress may impact the immune system and trigger shingles.

Shingles is treated with antiviral medications. The goal of treatment is to reduce the chance of complications and lower the severity and duration of your symptoms.

In addition to antiviral drugs, your healthcare team may also recommend keeping the area clean and dry, and using pain relief medications, including over-the-counter (OTC) anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen, and prescription analgesics.

Topical treatments may also be used to reduce the pain of a shingles rash under the breast if the rash has resolved but you still experience pain. These may include prescription or over-the-counter pain patches.

To reduce shingles itching, oral antihistamines may help once the blisters have dried and scabbed over.

Natural strategies for shingles under the breast

Natural shingles treatments may soothe symptoms. These may include:

  • Lukewarm colloidal oatmeal bath: Hot or cold water may not help. Cold water can increase skin sensitivity, while hot water can increase pain and slow the healing of the blisters. .
  • Cool wet compresses: Applying cool compresses several times daily may help you with the burning sensation often associated with a shingles rash.
  • Topically applied witch hazel: Using a spray bottle or cool compress to apply natural witch hazel may work for some people. You may want to apply the remedy on another area first and wait at least 24 hours to check for allergic reactions.
  • Baking soda paste: You may also want to try mixing baking soda with water until a paste-like consistency forms. Leaving on the affected skin for up to 20 minutes may help you feel better. Rinse off with cool or warm water.
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If you’re over age 50 years, the best way to reduce the chance of getting shingles is to get the shingles vaccine. It’s a two-dose vaccine that is more than 90% effective against shingles.

A healthcare professional may also recommend the shingles vaccine to younger people with weak immune systems.

Managing stress may also help. Strategies such as meditation, yoga, and exercise work as stress relievers.

A painful and blistering rash under the breast that extends to one side only may indicate a shingles infection. It may also be itchy and look like a burn.

Only people who’ve had chickenpox before may develop shingles. This may happen at any age and the rash may appear anywhere in the body, although it’s more common on one side of the torso.

If you’re over age 50 years, the shingles vaccine may reduce your chances of getting shingles.