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Do you know why your nipple hurts or aches? Find out the 7 causes

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Nipple pain is a pair of words that, when combined, can make any woman wince. Any discomfort in the nips, whether it be tenderness, soreness, or irritation, can be as perplexing as it is uncomfortable. When it happens, you might be limited in your thinking to the question, “Why do my nipples hurt?” Since your nipples are a prime erogenous zone, they are incredibly sensitive. You don’t need to worry if that sensitivity develops into pain.

According to Spencer McClelland, MD, an ob-gyn in Denver, Colorado, “nipple pain can be divided into pain related to breastfeeding and the postpartum period, as well as pain in other contexts.”

The good news is that the soreness usually doesn’t warrant too much worry. When there are no obvious skin changes or unusual nipple discharge, she adds, “nipple soreness is usually caused by harmless reasons and is not a reason for immediate worry.” Phew!

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Numerous health conditions and lifestyle choices might be the cause of nipple discomfort, but fortunately, most of these issues are readily treatable (like finally ditching that ill-fitting sports bra).

More concerning symptoms, such as nipple discharge, lumps, or changes in the color or texture of your breast skin, may be present for serious reasons. Consult your ob-gyn if you have any of these symptoms plus discomfort in your nip.

7 Causes of nipple hurts or aches

Here are 7 reasons why your nipples may be hurting and what you can do about them to assist you to figure out what you could be dealing with.

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alt=a doctor explaining the causes of nipple aches

An infection has spread to your nipples

Yes, your nipples may become infected. According to Jenna Sassie, MD, an obstetrician-gynecologist at Women’s Healthcare Associates in Houston, “there are huge pores and hair follicles surrounding the nipple that can become blocked and infected, much as in your underarm or pubic areas.” Believe it or not, a yeast infection on your nipple is one sort of infection that might occur (yes, those yeast infections).

According to Dr. Sassie, these normally develop under the breast where sweat gathers. However, because yeast grows best in moist, dark environments, women who frequently wear bras made of materials that are impermeable to moisture may also be at risk for developing yeast infections on their nipples.

Another form of yeast infection that is transmitted to nursing moms from their infants is thrush.

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Fortunately, medicines can be used to treat these infections in both you and your baby if you are nursing.

Even though it frequently affects nursing moms, people without diabetes are equally susceptible to these illnesses. You could have an infection if the skin of your nipple is thin, reddish, and glossy. Nipple piercings can also result in infection, particularly if they are performed improperly or not properly cleaned up afterward.

So, if you’re thinking of giving your girls accessories, do your research and choose a trustworthy tattoo and piercing shop. According to Mount Sinai, other signs of a nipple infection include itchiness, swelling, soreness, warmth, and nipple discharge.

You have what is known as a “jogger’s nipple.”

It’s not unusual to feel chafing or discomfort from clothes, such as a sports bra if you routinely exercise or are preparing for a long endurance event like a marathon. It’s practically a rite of passage.

Dweck suggests avoiding discomfort by using a well-fitting, high-quality sports bra and applying Body Glide or another similar anti-chafing cream.

To obtain a “jogger’s nipple,” however, you do not need to run; it can occur while wearing regular clothing. Dr. Sassie adds, “I’ve also had patients wear ill-fitting lace bras and other similar items who end up with rashes or sensitivity because it’s touching the nipple all day long.”

If so, it could be worthwhile sifting through your intimates drawer to decide whether it is worthwhile to have any of those gorgeous but scratchy bras on hand. Growing soreness after a run and bleeding nipples are two more signs of a jogger’s nipple.

Your hormones are changing

When you first encounter breast discomfort, one of the first things you should think about is if you could be pregnant. According to Dr. Sassie, “Nipple soreness is sometimes the first symptom that you are expecting.”

Therefore, it wouldn’t be crazy for you to run out and get a pregnancy test if you’re not using birth control and are exhibiting symptoms of nipple discomfort. Your menstruation can also be responsible for the sensitivity in your nipples.

A lot of women report having pain there as a symptom before their period, in connection with hormonal changes, and typically in addition to pain in the rest of the breast.

The week before your period is when you produce the most progesterone and estrogen, which frequently results in breast and milk gland swelling and pain. So, if your breasts and nipples are both in pain, it’s probably time for your period.

Nipple soreness should lessen as your period symptoms do. Trying to stay away from this in the future?

Hormonal birth control can help patients who have troublesome symptoms linked to menstrual cycle hormone fluctuations, such as nipple and breast soreness, mood swings, or monthly migraines, according to Dr. McClelland.

Likewise, if you’ve changed birth control methods or medications, are about to start your period, or are going through any significant hormonal changes, including perimenopause.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, constipation, diarrhea, exhaustion, irregular periods, and acne are further signs of hormonal shifts.

Your hormones are changing

Unfortunate truth: It’s common to have discomfort when nursing, depending on the situation.

For example, you may experience pain if your breast pump doesn’t fit properly, you have clogged milk ducts, your nipples are damaged, or your baby has latching problems. New mothers can frequently find some alleviation by using nipple creams like Medela Tender Care Lanolin.

But occasionally, discomfort when nursing is abnormal, such as when a woman has mastitis (a.k.a. inflammation of breast tissue). According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, mastitis symptoms include breast tenderness or warmth to the touch; breast swelling; thickening of the breast tissue; or a breast lump; pain or a burning sensation while breastfeeding or during regular daily activities; and skin redness.

“If you are suffering discomfort while nursing and also have a fever or chills, or you are generally feeling poorly, certainly see your doctor,” Dr. Sassie advises.

You’re experiencing an allergic response

Your sudden nipple pain may be the consequence of an allergic response if you started to feel itchy or irritated after applying a new scent, soap, lotion, or even laundry detergent or fabric softener.

You could be better off returning to your previous favorite or looking for a fragrance-free or hypoallergenic version of the product if you recently switched and found that to be the cause of your discomfort.

Get a prescription for an anti-itch cream or ointment from your doctor by speaking with them.

You changed or started using a medicine

Dr. Sassie explains that some drugs’ negative effects might result in nipple discomfort or even discharge. These might be prescription medications, particularly psychiatric ones, or herbal supplements. If you believe that to be the case, consult your doctor.

On the other hand, Dr. McClelland observes that “systemic allergies, as to a medicine, would be a highly improbable source of nipple discomfort.” If that’s the case, you may also have additional symptoms, including “skin rashes, facial swelling, vomiting, and problems breathing.”

Furthermore, according to Dr. Dweck, breast pain can also result from breast cancer treatments such as radiation and surgery.

You have eczema


Your tenderness could be a side effect of a dermatological disorder like eczema, though it’s less typical, according to Dr. McClelland.

You can have eczema on your nipples if your pain is accompanied by a persistent breast rash. According to the Cleveland Clinic, in extreme cases, the scratchy rash and dry skin can make it difficult to move, wear clothing, or sleep.

Eliminating fragranced goods and scented washing detergents will help stop this.

To cure this problem, be careful to keep the region hydrated with unscented lotion or petroleum jelly. In more extreme circumstances, using drugs like corticosteroids, which lessen itching and inflammation, maybe the key to your pain relief.

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