4 signs you could be allergic to your bra

It turns out straps that slip off, cups that gape, or underwire that digs into the ribs can actually be the least of your worries when it comes to bra wearing.

According to Esther Labi, the founder of Aussie bra store Storm in a D Cup, many women have been contacting her seeking advice and guidance on bras that won't cause allergic reactions and skin irritation.

Woman with irritated skin under bra
Is your bra causing you skin irritation? Photo: Getty

"The biggest clue we get that they have some sort of skin allergy is when customers call or come in looking for cotton bras," Esther tells Yahoo Lifestyle.

"It’s a big sign that there’s an issue with their skin and what touches it. In the change room women are often shy to show us their red, itchy patches but we’ve seen it all.

"Sometimes your bra is irritating your skin in a way that is legitimate cause for concern…and itching."

Affectionately known as the 'bra whisperer', Esther says bra-related skin allergies have been on the rise due to the harsh dyes often used in fabrics and the chemicals used to produce rubber, elastic and latex that goes into bras.

"Chemicals are used in the production of these products and they cause skin allergies," she explains.

"Many mass produced and cheaper bras also contain poor-quality metals."


As more and more cheaper products hit the market, Esther says many women aren't aware that the poorer quality bras actually contain these harmful toxins and materials.

"Opt for quality products. Good brands are made using premium products that should minimise the risk of issues," she says.

Esther Labi, the founder of Aussie bra store Storm in a D Cup
Esther Labi is known as the 'bra whisperer' and is the founder of Storm in a D Cup. Photo: Supplied.

Hoping to help shed some light on these skin allergies and sensitivities, Esther has shared with us how to recognise and manage four common reactions to a bad bra.


"Intertrigo is a fungal, bacterial or viral infection of broken skin which normally appears in the form of a rash," she explains.

"Hearing the term ‘fungal rash’ isn’t exactly pleasant, however it is more common than you think. If you notice a rash appearing under your boobs, upon your shoulders, or under where you bra straps intersect, it could be Intertrigo. It can be painful and itchy.

"Our skin naturally carries yeast and bacteria. Poorly fitting bras that chafe the skin can irritate and break the skin causing infection and inflammation.

"See your local pharmacist for an anti-fungal cream to reduce the itch in the fastest amount of time. Avoid bras with wires and opt for soft-fitting bras that provide good support. Choose bras made from fabrics that allow your skin to breathe properly."

Sweat rash

"For many women, exercise and warm weather means one thing – underboob sweat. And ladies with a larger cup size generally will experience underboob sweat the most, which can contribute to sweat rash or heat rash, which can be painful and irritating," Esther says.

"If you do not keep the area dry, the built-up sweat and moisture can also spiral into a yeast infection over time.

"I recommend investing in a moisture-wicking bra for exercise and warm weather. But over the winter months as we all sit inside in the warmth, our body naturally sweats, which can also contribute to sweat rash. A cooling bra is a busty girl’s best friend because it will help your body to stay dry and sweat-free."

woman in sports bra
Esther recommends investing in a moisture-wicking bra for exercise. Photo: Getty

Allergic reactions

According to Esther, a number of women can find the common materials that their bra is made out of to be irritating. These skin allergies are often misdiagnosed or not pinpointed by bra wearers who could experience some extreme relief if they took note of what materials their bra is made out of.

"Contact allergic dermatitis is usually due to an inflammatory reaction to the chemicals added to the materials during manufacturing," she says.

"You don’t have to free the nipple or opt for an unsupportive cotton crop if you develop these skin allergies, there is an extensive range of hypoallergenic bras on the market that shouldn’t cause you any irritation.

"Check the tags of your bra to explore latex-free, rubber-free and elastic-free alternatives, especially when it comes to strapless bras."


"We have all heard of acne, back-ne, chest-ne, and even thigh-ne, but boob-ne is a real problem for ladies with a larger cup size, or are regular gym-goers," Esther explains.

"Boob-ne is caused by friction from a dirty sports bra that can lead to incredibly irritated and aggressive pimples.

acne skin on female back
Boob-ne can be a real problem for larger busted women and regular exercisers. Photo: Getty

"While a little friction with your sports bra is inevitable when you’re being active, what you should do is change out of your sports bra as soon as your workout is complete."

Lounging around in your dirty activewear after training, or wearing dirty activewear to work out in a number of days in a row, will also inflame and embolden your boob-ne.

According to Esther, you should also ensure that you’re wearing the correct size for your sports bra because if you don’t invest in a quality sports bra, this can result in a build up of sweat and oils that can result in boob-ne

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