Breast care and support
Good breast care and adequate support can
prevent many common problems.
Wash your breasts and the surrounding
area carefully. Dry them thoroughly, especially the folds
Clean inverted nipples with cotton wool
buds to prevent secretions collecting there. Don't squeeze
your nipples - this may increase these secretions
Don't squeeze any spots which may
develop on your breast, especially near the nipple. This
could lead to an infection or even a breast abscess
Don't use irritant creams or lotions on
your breasts or anything which states it shouldn't be used
on the face
Remove hair from around your nipples
with tweezers not a depilatory cream. Permanent hair
removal by electrolysis should be done by a trained
A rash under your breasts may be caused
Treat with hydrocortisone cream, available
from chemists. Don't use talcum powder until the rash has
Wear a cotton bra or one with a cotton
lining. Check your cup fitting if you wear an under wire bra -
there should be a gap between the underside of your breast and
Sometimes rashes may be caused by fungal
infections such as Candida ("thrush"). These can be
treated with an anti-fungal cream.
Sunbathing can cause skin damage and
increase the risk of developing skin cancer. If you sunbathe
topless, and whenever you spend any length of time in the sun,
follow this advice:
never allow your skin to burn
protect your skin with a suncream of
factor 15 or above. Apply the sunscreen regularly as
stated on the bottle
stay in the shade as much as possible,
especially around midday. The sun is strongest between
11am and 3pm
remember you can burn on days when
there is light cloud or a cool breeze, and when you are
swimming. Take note of the exposure times given on weather
increase the time you spend in the sun
gradually. If you do want to get a tan, always use a
don't use sunbeds - they can also cause
Ideally when you're in the sun you
should cover up.
wear a T-shirt or other loose clothing
which is tightly woven to block the sun's rays
wear a wide-brimmed hat which protects
your nose, ears and neck
wear sunglasses which carry the British
Standard label BS2724:1987 to protect your eyes
Check any moles regularly for changes. If
they become bigger, darker or start to bleed, go to your
family doctor or health clinic straight away. Your doctor will
probably advise you to have these moles removed.
If you have other moles in an awkward
position, such as under a bra strap, you might wish to ask
your doctor if these can be removed too.
Breasts contain fat and glands but no
muscle. Therefore it's important to prevent the ligaments,
which provide natural support, from overstretching. Good
support, especially during exercise or when playing sports,
prevents the breasts from drooping.
A well fitting bra with the correct cup
size provides good support. Go to your local department store
and ask if you can be measured. Many lingerie departments have
experienced staff who can measure you and fit you with a
comfortable bra in the right size.
Leaflets which explain how to measure
yourself are also available. Remember though that measurements
are only a guide - you should always try a bra on to be sure
it fits well.
When you're trying on a bra practice some
normal movements, like bending and stretching, to make sure it
doesn't ride up or become uncomfortable. If you have a well
fitting bra, it will prevent common problems like strap marks
on your shoulders.
You may not always take the same bra size -
styles and makes vary. Cup sizes range from AA (small) to DD
(large). Some specialists make bras up to a GG fitting.
Most women have one breast larger than the
other. Always fit the larger breast when choosing a bra. Hide
any differences by adding light padding or taking in the bra
on the smaller side.
If your breasts are a different size or
enlarge just before your period, stretch bras may be more
Under wire bras
Be particularly careful to choose an
underwire bra which fits correctly. A badly fitting underwire
bra can cause pain and discomfort if the wires dig into the
upper part of the breast.
More expensive underwire bras tend to have
softer, more flexible wires.
Don't wear an underwire bra if you're
pregnant or have recently had a mastectomy.
Midwives advise on breast and nipple care,
breast support and breast feeding during pregnancy and after
childbirth. Remember, your breasts may go through many changes
which are entirely normal at this time.
Always ask your midwife or family doctor if
you have any questions or are worried about anything.
It is possible to have an operation to
enlarge or reduce the size of the breasts. These are usually
only available privately. Breast reduction may be done on the
NHS but not normally for cosmetic reasons alone.
Always consult a specialist plastic surgeon
- your family doctor may be able to advise you.
Enlargement or reduction may not be
recommended if you are planning to have children as problems
may arise if you want to breast feed.