Burning sensation in breast is marked by a burning feeling in one or both breasts. This may be as a result of several causes such as diseases, thermal burn or even exposure to extreme cold or toxic substances. Depending on the cause of breast burning sensation, it may occur on the breast alone or even in other areas of the body. There are also instances when the burning feeling will also be accompanied by numbness and tingling. The course and duration of burning sensation in breast can differ widely. This will depend on the cause. When the sensation is as a result of a burn, it will start suddenly. When the burning feeling is due to neuropathy, it will develop slowly before it starts persisting or worsening with time. Some of the major causes of burning sensation in breast include:
The infection that causes mastitis is a major and common cause of breast burning sensation. The condition is common in breastfeeding mothers due to the fact that suckling can cause damage to the skin that surround the nipples leading to the penetration of bacteria. If the burning sensation is as a result of Mastitis, it will increase when the baby is suckling. The pain can also be accompanied by other symptoms such as fever, redness or swelling. Antibiotics can be used to treat breast infection while pain medications can be used to treat the symptoms. Mastitis can be treated using antibiotics, warm compresses and anti-inflammatories like ibuprofen. If abscesses are present, these should be drained surgically.
Neuropathy (damage to nerves that sends signal to the spinal cord and brain) can also cause burning feeling in the breast .Neuropathy or nerve damage can develop as a result of various disorders such as abnormal nerve function, chemotherapy or uncontrolled diabetes. Neuropathy can also be marked by tingling or numbness in breast. While nerve damage is usually permanent, pain relievers can be prescribed to patients. Medications that reduce or slow down nerve damage can also be good.
Inflammatory breast cancer (IBC)
IBC is a rare type of breast cancer that is found in around 5% of breast cancer patients. The condition is marked by swelling of breasts as a result of a blockage in the flow lymphatic fluid which occurs in the breast’s lymph vessels. The breasts may also become inflamed causing burning sensation and redness. Breast cancer can progress rapidly. Patients will begin to show symptoms within a period of a few weeks. When you experience breast burning sensation accompanied by swelling, it is advisable to seek treatment immediately.
It is important for biopsy to be done to diagnose the problem. If IBC is noted in the patient, treatments such as chemotherapy, radiation and surgery are recommended. In fact, all the three treatment options should be combined for optimum results.
It is common for women to experience hormonal fluctuations during their menstrual cycle. This can be accompanied by benign growth and cysts around the breasts. There are women who will experience the burning sensation just before their menstruation. Other women will notice the pain before their ovulation time. Women who are aged between the age of 30 and 50 years may also experience burning sensation which is not related to menstrual cycle.
Premenstrual syndrome can be treated using prescribed drugs such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors.
There are instance where there will be pain around the breast which may be as a result of a sore pectoral muscle occurring beneath the tissues in the breast. Injuring or straining the muscle during exercise can result in the sharp burning sensation in the breast. The burning feeling or pain may also be as a result of the connective tissue that makes part of the breast.
Clogged milk duct
The clogged milk ducts can also cause the breast burning sensation. Breastfeeding mother will begin to notice a red lump which will be accompanied by the burning sensation and breast tenderness. The condition is usually caused by improper draining of the breast milk from milk ducts. If left untreated, clogged milk ducts can lead to breast infection which will also cause burning sensation.
People who are suffering from diabetes may experience paresthesias and burning in different parts of the body. Paresthesias is a numb or burning sensation that is commonly felt in its extremities and may also be felt in the face and chest area. This is because diabetes affects the ability of the body to handle glucose. The nerves in the body may become inflamed as a result of diabetes and this may cause chest or breast pain. Perception of pain in diabetics is often altered and a burning sensation can be an indication of a more severe condition such as heart attack or other heart disease. Therefore, it is important for people who are diabetic to seek immediate medical assistance if they suffer from a burning sensation in the breast.
Another common cause of burning feeling in the breast is Paget’s disease. Though rare, this form of breast cancer will usually start at the areola and nipple before it spreads deeper. It is easy to overlook the condition as a mere dry skin. While the condition may involve only a dry skin around the nipple, in most cases, it is an indication of an underlying cancer. Women who are aged over 50 are more prone to the disease. Other signs of the condition include burning, itching as well as skin flaking. Always watch out for retraction or inversion of nipple as it always a dangerous sign. This condition can be treated using lumpectomy and complete mastectomy. The treatment option should be followed up with the right radiation or chemotherapy treatment.
There are also other causes of burning sensation in breast such as stress and musculoskeletal conditions like osteoporosis, arthritis, back injury and imbalance of fatty acids in cells. Breast burning sensation and pain can also be caused by hormonal replacement therapy and using birth control pills. These drugs contain hormones which can result in hormonal imbalance.
When to see a doctor for burning sensation in breast
There are instances when the breast burning sensation will be as a result of symptoms of a life-threatening condition such as heart attacks and there may be a need for the condition to be diagnosed as quickly as possible. Where the burning sensation in breast is as a result of serious conditions, not seeking treatment can cause permanent damage and other serious complications.
After the medical practitioner has diagnosed the underlying cause, you should follow the recommended treatment plan so that you can minimize the risk of certain complications such as:
- Permanent damage of nerves
- Heart failure
- Spread of cancer
- Spread of the infection
It is also advisable to call for immediate medical help if the burning sensation is accompanied by other symptoms such as nausea, chest tightness or pain, breath shortness, sudden or severe onset of pain. If you are diabetic and you experience burning sensation, you will need to consult your medical practitioner. Where the burning feeling in chest is accompanied by weakness or numbness of part of the body, it may be an indication of the onset of stroke. You need to seek immediate medical help.