This pain is typically associated with breastfeeding, postpartum, and lifestyle habits. It is usually harmless but if there’s unusual nipple discharge, lumps, or changes in the color or texture of your breast skin.
Here’s seven reasons why you might be experiencing nipple pain and what to do about it.
1. Breast cancer
Although it is the least common cause of nipple pain. Along with flattening of the nipple, swollen lymph nodes under either arm, according to Mayo Clinic, red, pink or purple discoloration of the ridges of the skin of the breast is a red flag for breast cancer.
The pain from breast cancer is usually gradual, so look out for a burning or tender sensation, and visit the doctor if you suspect anything unusual in order to address any underlying issues.
If nipple pain is accompanied by a rash around your breasts that won’t go away, you might have eczema on your nipples. In severe cases, the rash, itching and dry skin, make it hard to wear clothes and to sleep.
Remove products with fragrances and scented detergent. Keep the infected area moisturized using unscented lotion or petroleum jelly to ease symptoms. For severe cases, get a prescription from your doctor, corticosteroids help reduce inflammation, itching and offer pain relief.
3. Allergic reaction
Your nipple pain could be a result of an allergic reaction to a new soap, lotion, laundry detergent, softener, or fragrance. If you experience itchiness and irritation after switching products, try going back to a previous product or using a hypoallergenic version of it.
Get a prescription for an anti-inflammation ointment or cream.
4. New or change in medication
Herbal supplements and psychiatric prescriptions can have side effects that bring on nipple sensitivity and discharge. In addition to medicine side effects, nipple pain can be part of the body’s allergic reactions to drugs, including skin rashes, swelling of the face, vomiting, and trouble breathing.
Cancer treatments such as surgery and chemotherapy can bring on nipple sensitivity. Ask your doctor to give you alternate drugs with less side effects.
5. An infection
When the skin pores and hair follicles around the nipple become clogged, this can turn into an infection. The most common nipple infection, is a yeast infection. Wearing non-breathable bras often can lead to sweat collecting around the breast, making the area under the breast a breeding ground for yeast infections.
Nipple piercings can lead to infection if not done with a good technique and not taken care of afterwards. So before getting a piercing, do your research and get a reputable parlor.
Breastfeeding mothers are also susceptible to an infection known as thrush from their babies.
Diabetes also makes individuals susceptible to nipple infection. Thin, reddened, and shiny skin, itching, swelling, tenderness, warmth, and nipple discharge, are signs of an infection, according to Jenna Sassie, MD, an obstetrician-gynecologist at Women’s Healthcare Associates in Houston.
6. “Jogger’s nipple”
Irritation and chaffing from clothing like sports bras during training for sport events or regular work out. In everyday situations, wearing ill-fitting lace bras can cause rubbing resulting in rashes. Jogger’s nipple causes bleeding.
Treatment includes getting well-fitting and quality bras, applying anti-chaffing balm to prevent inflammation.
7. Hormonal changes
Nipple pain is usually a sign that you might be expecting, according to Sassie. Your period is also to blame in some cases, due to high levels of progesterone and estrogen the week before your period. This hormone peak also causes breasts and milk glands to swell, so if your nipples and breasts are hurting at the same time, it is a sign that your period is on its way.
“For patients with bothersome symptoms related to the hormone changes of the menstrual cycle, whether it’s nipple and breast pain, mood changes, or menstrual migraines, hormonal birth control can make a difference,” says Spencer McClelland, MD, the physician lead for the Women’s Care Clinic at Denver Health Hospital.
In addition, starting or stopping a new birth control regimen, you might experience breast and nipple pain.