Bras and Undies

4 Surprising Reasons Why Your Bra Is Irritating Your Skin

Mary Grace Garis

Photo: Stocksy/Susana Ramirez
After a year where many of us kissed wireless bras buh-bye (and many more of us banned boob-shackles for good), almost every piece of lingerie feels at least somewhat unnatural. But sometimes it goes beyond your pandemic desire of letting your breasts hang loose. Sometimes your bra is actually irritating your skin in a way that's causing legitimate dermatological woes.

And your bra can be pretty sneaky about how it does this! Although there are reliable suspects when it comes to uncomfortable bras, sometimes your underwear can screw you over in a way you wouldn't guess. Below, two dermatologists weigh in on the different ways your bra might be causing you skin woes.

Bra irritating your skin? Here's why

1. Your bra straps might cause different kinds dermatological woes

"There may be a fungal rash under your bra straps that is pretty common to have in the spring months that can get very irritated when rubbed, called tinea versicolor," says Nava Greenfield, MD, of Schweiger Dermatology Group in New York City. Generally speaking, this would cause a slight discoloration of skin, mild itching, and a sort of scaliness. Though not dire, if the fungal infection gets out of control, you can check in with a derm and get a prescription for an anti-fungal cream.

And if you're noticing any rashes on your shoulders that don't fit that description, something else could be to blame. "You may be experiencing a contact allergy to the rubber, if there is any, on your bra straps or to the textile," says Dr. Greenfield.

2. Your popped open wire is more than an aesthetic problem

The other day, with the bravery of millennial Joan of Arc, I wore a bra with cups. Mid-way through the day, said bra had the audacity to have the wire pop out and poke at me for hours. A popped wire can definitely be an eye sore and physically aggravating, but there's another reason to toss your bra out if you can't get it back in.

"An underwire bra, if exposed can lead to a nickel allergy rash," Dr. Greenfield says.

3. Your underboob sweat can cause a rash

One reason to hate a steamy summer: the tragedy of underboob sweat. Busty girls understand how annoying this problem is, but if you're not kept dry, it can spiral into something truly obnoxious. "Buildup of sweat and moisture under your breast by the bra line can result in a rash called intertrigo, which can be painful and irritating," says Dr. Greenfield.

Moreover, board-certified dermatologist Mona Gohara, MD  adds that your sweaty bra can even result in a yeast infection over time. FYI, investing in a cooling, moisture-wicking bra for the hotter months has been a game-changer for this 32DD girl.

4. Your morning workout might be creating sports-bra-induced boobne

While we're on the subject of boob sweat, let's discuss how often we should change our bra. If you've just done a major work-out and you're lounging around in your yoga bralette, here's some bad news: "the friction from a sports bra can give you zits," says Dr. Gohara.

While friction is inevitable if you're working out, that means you should change out of your bra ASAP when you're done. Also make sure that you're wearing the appropriate size if you're experiencing a sort of skin-suffocation that can result in sweat-and-oil build-up. And if you need some TLC, there's plenty of products that help you banish breast acne; I know enjoyed developing a décolletage exfoliating boobcare routine of my own.

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