Bumps On Nipples Are More Common And Normal Than You Might Think
When you notice something on your body for the first time, like bumps on your nipples, you may have some questions. But before you go jumping into a Google rabbit hole and spiraling, take a deep breath. Not all bumps mean trouble. In fact, they're generally normal to come across and don't require treatment.
Sure, you've been taught to stay on high alert for any anomaly around your breast area (and it's good to be cautious). But most bumps found on the nipples or areolas are not signs of disease. You may be tempted to jump to the worst case scenario—cancer—but that tends to manifest itself as a "lump within the tissue of the breast itself and not on the skin surface," says Jill Purdie, MD, an ob-gyn at Pediatrix Medical Group.
If you find a lump that's hard, irregular in shape, painless, or doesn't move around easily, it may be time to check in with your gyno. That underscores just how important it is to do self-exams regularly, which can help you notice any changes in your breasts.
That said, not all bumps are harmless. "If the bumps are accompanied by other symptoms, such as discharge, pain, or a little bit of growth, or if you are concerned about their appearance, it's important to see your gynecologist," says Thaïs Aliabadi, MD, an ob-gyn and the founder of Trimly.
Wondering what causes bumps on nipples to form and how to get rid of them? Read on for all the details straight from the experts.
Meet the experts: Thaïs Aliabadi, MD, is an ob-gyn and the founder of Trimly. Jill Purdie, MD, is the medical director at Northside Women's Specialists at Pediatrix Medical Group in Atlanta, Georgia.
Bumps can be a normal part of your nipples.
You probably already know this, but just to be clear, nipples are small, raised areas on the boob. They may also be flat or turned inward. They're found at the center of the areola, which is the hyperpigmented patch of skin surrounding the nipple. Areolas can vary in shape, size, and color depending on the person.
"[Areolas] contain small, sensitive bumps called Montgomery's glands, which secrete a fluid that keeps the nipples lubricated," explains Dr. Aliabadi. So bumps are kinda part of the anatomy. Note that these oil glands can also become blocked, which may make them look larger or similar to a pimple.
What else can cause bumps on nipples?
There are a few other reasons you can get bumps on your nipples, such as hormonal changes, infection, and injury, according to Dr. Aliabadi.
But bumps on nipples can also be caused by the following, Dr. Purdie notes.
Ingrown hairs. Yep, you can get an ingrown hair on your nipple because there is hair along the edge of the areola. An ingrown hair is a strand that grows back into your skin. It can cause tiny, swollen, and painful bumps on the skin, per Mayo Clinic. To tone down the swelling, use a warm compress, or take a hot shower.
Skin tags. A skin tag, a small, noncancerous growth that's the same color as your skin, on the nipple appears as a bump that pokes outward. You can monitor it over time or have it removed by a physician if you'd like.
Eczema. This skin condition can cause small, red bumps or a scaly rash on the nipples. That often stems from irritation from using a product you're allergic to. Eczema typically causes dry and flaky skin on other parts of the body as well. It can be treated with lotion and topical medication prescribed by your doctor.
Paget disease. Paget disease of the breast is a rare condition that can cause an ulcer to form on the nipple, which may extend to the areola. It's a rare type of breast cancer that affects the areola. Other symptoms include burning or itching, flaky, crusty, or thickened skin on or around the nipple, a flattened nipple, or discharge that may be yellowish or bloody. If you think you have any of these signs, reach out to your doc for diagnosis and treatment options.
Do bumps on my nipples mean I’m pregnant?
Making that judgment based on the bumps on your nipples alone isn't the best way to go since they can be a result of a number of other unrelated causes. Instead, check if you've had a missed period, morning sickness, breast tenderness, and fatigue—the classic signs of pregnancy. You should also take a test or visit your gynecologist if you believe you've conceived.
That said, pregnancy can lead to hormonal changes that cause new Montgomery glands to form on the nipples, which may show up as more bumps in the area. The areolas can also change in size and color during pregnancy and breastfeeding, notes Dr. Aliabadi.
Can I get rid of bumps on my nipples?
Depending on the cause, you may be able to get rid of bumps on your nipples. If the bumps are from an infection, certain skin conditions, or an ingrown hair, you can try these remedies.
Applying a warm compress to the affected area.
Using over-the-counter creams or ointments with hydrocortisone or tea tree oil.
Exfoliating the skin around the nipples gently.
Wearing loose and breathable clothing.
Avoiding harsh soaps or detergents.
If you're feeling uneasy about the bumps on your breast, it's best to reach out to your primary care physician or ob-gyn.
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