Every woman’s annoyance: Boob Sweat.
Big breasts and summer sometimes do not mix well in the north state. I am not talking about falling out of your bikini at Shasta Lake either. I’m talking about Boob Sweat. Boob sweat may sound funny to some, but enough women seek medical advisement on it for me to write this article. Embarrassing as armpit stains can be to both sexes, boob sweat carries the added insult of rashes, irritation, and yeast overgrowth. One of my patients laments that her ‘melons become watermelons” in June. If you think I am making this up, ask a big chested woman about it (preferably someone you know well).
Sweating of course is a natural process and we all do it. Our sweat is made mostly of water and salt with trace electrolytes. Baseball players will often appreciate a white crusty ring of salt in their caps from evaporated sweat. Under the breasts, those salts and electrolytes deposit like a layer cake and can break down the skin over time. The average person can sweat up to about 3 to 4 liters per hour while exercising. If you are a larger chest woman, sometimes you may feel you are wearing half of that in your cleavage and gym top.
As if sweat and friction were not enough to irritate you, there are yeasts out there just waiting to colonize those cozy skin folds. Yeast just love warm, dark, and moist places. You cannot do much about the warm and dark part, but combating the moisture will help keep your breasts rash free this summer.
Over the years, I have met women who are so miserable that they have resorted to buying maxi pads, not for the regular use, but to wear under the breasts. Luckily there are few things you can do to stay dry this summer short of stuffing your bra with maxi pads or getting a breast reduction.
- Bra Liners or Napkins: There are no shortages of companies that manufacture absorbent material to wear in your bra. Most of them are composed of layered cotton that wicks the sweat away from your skin but doesn’t turn right around and soak it into your blouse or yoga top. Several brands have fabric impregnated with antimicrobial molecules. I am also told by patients that thin panty liners work just as well and are cheaper and easier to find.
- Antiperspirants: Who ever said they were just for your underarms? Many of my patients are helped by just a small amount under the breasts and in the cleavage. I recommend completely drying the skin prior to application or you risk inducing chemical irritation. Despite overwhelming scientific opinion against antiperspirant linkage to Alzheimer’s and breast cancer, many women still have concerns. It has now become more of an emotional than rational argument. I have read the research and we still use antiperspirants in our household. Still, if you have concerns you may want to try essential oils of lavender or comfrey to mask the smell (but it will not help the sweating).
- Stuffing your bra: If you cannot find a proper bra liner, stuff the underside of your bra with tissue paper.
- Keep it loose: Consider wearing flowing tops that allows air movement. Spandex in June is just begging for boob sweat.
- Black to Basics: A woman once shared with me that a solid black shirt hides boob sweat better than any other color. Another woman though insists that wearing the wildest of floral print hides it best for her. Find what works for you.
- Monkey Around: Products like “Monkey Butt” or “Lady Monkey Butt” are calamine and talc based powders that keep you dry. Be cautious if you have allergies to fragrances, as these products are scented. Often a good drying foot powder can double as bra powder. See what is on sale and experiment a little.
- What about cornstarch? My grandmother, a plus-sized lady herself, used cornstarch happily for decades without any issues. I always wonder why this doesn’t feed the yeast though. She insisted that the secret was to dry out the area with a hair dryer before application.
- Foot Cream: It never hurts to use a little athlete’s foot cream under the breasts either. This helps keep the yeast and fungi to a minimum just the same as it will between your toes. You can usually find these at the dollar stores and they work just as well as the prescriptions in my opinion.
It seems boob sweat is largely ignored in the formal medical establishment. But it is a real problem and quite distressing to many women. Some people probably feel the term ‘boob sweat’ is crass, and this entity is in need of a more formal name. Shall I propose “Inframammary Hidrosis?” or maybe the tongue twisting “sub décolletage par a neathage hyperhidrosis?” Nah…I think boob sweat gets the point across. Why make things more complicated than they need to be.