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The official start of your period entails a flow, but other symptoms can occur several days beforehand. This can include itchiness around your body, which may affect your breasts.
If you find yourself with itchy breasts right before your period month after month, PMS or PMDD may be why.
Still, these two conditions aren’t the only potential causes of itchy breasts before your period. Rarely, itchiness in the breasts is considered a serious problem.
Read on to learn about all the potential causes of itchy breasts and what you can do to find some relief.
There are two main causes of itchy breasts before your period:
- Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is a common condition. Experts estimate 90 percent of menstruating women experience PMS. It starts a few days before your period. You may have itchy and heavy-feeling breasts along with bloating.
- Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) is a more severe form of PMS. It may cause inflammation in the skin, leading to itchiness in multiple areas of the body.
Some women also experience itchy breasts during pregnancy. This is attributed to breast growth, which may cause swelling that leads to skin irritation.
Breast cancer isn’t usually a cause of itchiness in the breast area. However, Paget’s disease, a rare form of this cancer, may lead to itchy breasts. You might notice a red rash first, along with flakiness and nipple discharge.
Other possible causes of itchy breasts include:
- dry skin
- eczema (atopic dermatitis)
- ill-fitting bras and sportswear
- synthetic fibers
- heat rash
- growing breasts from weight gain
- recent surgeries of the breast
With these conditions, you might experience some other symptoms along with itchy breasts.
PMS is one common cause of itchy breasts before your period. Other symptoms of PMS include:
PMDD has similar symptoms to PMS, but they’re considered more severe. The condition can cause itchy skin and breasts along with painful cramps. Other skin effects include inflammation and acne.
PMDD is considered serious because of the severe fluctuations in mood, including depression, anxiety, and overall lack of control. Before their period, some women with PMDD may also experience:
- weight gain
- vision changes
Paget’s disease is rare, but it may cause itchy breasts along with abnormal nipples. You may notice:
- flaky skin
- ulcerlike lesions
Allergies can cause eczema rashes. If you do have allergies, though, you’re likely to experience other symptoms, such as:
- stuffy nose
- itchy throat
Some forms of eczema also occur when your skin comes into contact with an irritating substance. This condition is called contact dermatitis.
Your doctor will recommend or prescribe treatment based on the cause of your itchiness.
The symptoms of PMS may worsen in your 30s and 40s, but it’s not clear if this applies to itchy breasts in particular.
Lifestyle changes may help relieve PMS symptoms, such as:
- exercising regularly
- eating a whole-foods diet
- decreasing intake of caffeine, sugar, and alcohol
The same lifestyle changes and prescription medications as PMS may treat PMDD. Your doctor may also recommend anti-inflammatory medications.
If dry skin or eczema is the reason for your itchy breasts, consider applying an emollient cream to the breast area for relief. Make sure the selected body cream doesn’t contain any added fragrances. That will only aggravate your symptoms.
Over-the-counter antihistamines can help manage your allergy symptoms. Severe allergies may require prescription treatments from an allergist or immunologist.
Home remedies work best for short-term or occasional breast itchiness. These won’t treat any underlying chronic health issues that might be causing breast discomfort.
For occasional itchiness
If you have occasional itchiness in your breasts, you may first consider a light calming lotion. This can help alleviate dryness and inflammation that could be causing the itchiness.
Lubriderm and Aveeno are both good choices that are easy to find at your local drugstore and online.
Other options that are effective in calming inflammation and dryness include:
- aloe vera gel
- vitamin E ointments
- shea butter
- cocoa butter
The idea is that this plant oil will help calm internal inflammation in breast tissues that could be causing itchiness.
If you’re interested in trying it out, you can likely find evening primrose oil at your local health food store. It’s also available online.
The symptoms of PMDD may be alleviated with medications along with regular exercise and stress management.
Decreasing caffeine consumption may also help, along with avoiding alcohol and reducing excessive salt and sugar in your diet.
Some doctors also recommend taking the following supplements, especially if you’re deficient:
For clothing issues
If your clothing is why you’re itchy, consider swapping out different sizes to make sure your breasts are supported, but not constricted. Change your clothes immediately after exercising or sweating to prevent inflammation and heat rash.
Itchy breasts and nipples are usually more of a nuisance than a serious medical concern. However, it’s possible that these symptoms are related to a larger medical issue, such as PMDD.
See your doctor if you suspect PMDD or if your periods are increasingly hard to manage.
Itchiness in the breast area is rarely a sign of cancer. See your doctor if you have other symptoms of possible breast cancer, including unusual lumps or bumps. Make an appointment if you have discharge coming out of the nipples other than breast milk.
You might also consider seeing a doctor if the itchiness is just downright bothersome every month. They might recommend anti-itch creams to help soothe your symptoms.
While breast itching is a common occurrence, it’s important to figure out the underlying causes to make sure it’s nothing serious.
Itchy breasts before your period may wear off when you start menstruating and your hormones start to balance out. More chronic causes, such as PMDD, may warrant a visit with your OB-GYN provider.
See your doctor right away if you notice other unusual symptoms in the breast area, such as bleeding, lumps, and discharge.