What with the pandemic and the general state of things at the minute, the fact that it's summer and not the depressing depths of winter has been a blessing. But one major downside is the sweat that accompanies the heat, particularly the dreaded underboob sweat. No one likes the feeling of their boobs being soaked in perspiration. A drenched sports bra is a killjoy.
And it's not just a comfort thing: Boob sweat can cause skin rashes and bacterial infections as well, says Alyssa Golas, MD, clinical assistant professor in the Hansjorg Wyss Department of Plastic Surgery at NYU Langone Health. She says candida loves a moist, warm, dark environment — like your underboob. You could end up with a fungal, bacterial, or yeast infection on the skin, which can be itchy and painful, and may even require a prescription cream to treat. (If you notice symptoms such as continuous itching, spots, or split skin, you may want to talk to a doctor.)
Boob sweat can plague anyone in the summer, especially during workouts. But some women are more likely to deal with the nuisance, including those who have bigger breasts and folks going through hormonal changes such as pregnancy, nursing, or menopause, explains Maryann Mikhail, MD, a dermatologist at The University of Miami.
It's super common, and typically harmless. The strategies here — listed from least to most extreme — should help you stay dry. “You shouldn’t be embarrassed by it,” Dr. Golas adds. “The majority of women with large breasts have this problem, but they don’t want to talk about it. But once they know it’s common, it’s easier to discuss and treat.” Preach, Golas, preach!
Dust on a sweat-fighting body powder, says Dr. Golas. An anti-chafing powder may help too, she says. (Not a lubricant stick or petroleum jelly, which is meant to keep things feeling moist.) Good, old-fashioned corn starch can also absorb perspiration. And some women swear by the same antiperspirant they use under their arms.
Wear the right bra
Some of Dr. Golas's patients stick maxi pads to their bras, to help sop up their underboob sweat. But the right kind of bra and shirt can do a better job of keeping you dry. “The best options are cooling bras, bras designed to wick sweat, or those made of breathable fabrics like cotton, bamboo, or soft lace,” Dr. Mikhail says. “Full-support bras or push-up bras can help by keeping the breasts from laying on the chest wall.”
She adds it’s best to avoid synthetic fabrics such as polyester or rayon, as well as padded bras because the extra material may cause even more sweating. When it comes to your top, wear shirts or dresses made of breathable and sweat-wicking fabrics, suggests Dr. Mikhail.
Of course, life happens. You might find yourself running to catch a bus on a hot summer day, or maybe the air conditioning will suddenly conk out when you’re at a formal dinner. Maybe you’ll be kidnapped and left to fend for yourself in the desert! The world is full of crazy possibilities, so it’s best to be prepared. Keep alcohol-based wipes on hand for knockers-related emergencies. They can't stop you from sweating the way that a deodorant might, but they can close your pores a bit to reduce sweating.
In general, there’s no need to talk to a doctor if your sweaty boobs are occasional or just when you workout, says Dr. Golas. “But if you’re wearing regular, nice clothing or a normal bra and it’s happening in the AC, that can be problematic, so you should seek out treatment.” That treatment might include botox, which is an FDA-approved remedy for excessive perspiration. The injections block the nerve signals that make you sweat. Each round lasts from three to six months, and may cost up to $1,000 (£800).
Maybe underboob sweat is just one more problem in a long line of issues you have with your breasts. Maybe you also get intense back pain; you're plagued with frequent irritation; or you just don't feel comfortable with the size of your breasts. In some specific and extreme scenarios, Dr. Golas says that breast reduction surgery could be an appropriate solution. “If someone has large breasts and they’re interested in a reduction, they should see a board certified plastic surgeon,” she says, adding that in some cases, a breast lift could be worth exploring too.