Having bumps or pimples on the nipples is normal. They can occur with a red, white or flesh color and they can be itchy or not.
Having breast piercings, a pregnancy or a disease may cause bumps on nipples.
What are the bumps around the nipple?
Is it normal to have small lumps on the nipple area?
- Given that most cases of bumps on the nipples are benign in nature, it is normal to have them.
- Blocked pores and pimples on the areola are a common occurrence owing to the sensitivity of the nipple area in response to sweat and hormones.
- The difference between a pimple and a bump is that while a pimple is like a whitehead, a bump is an area of raised skin.
However, when the bump or pimple becomes painful, has a discharge or is itchy, you should immediately see your doctor. This is because it is a clear sign of an infection or another underlying issue.
Causes of bumps on nipples
Why do my nipples have bumps?
If you are having small bumps on nipples, you may be wondering what causes them to appear in the first place. There are several causes of these bumps and pimples including the following;
1. Montgomery tubercles
Montgomery tubercles are small bumps that form around the nipple. They are part of the Montgomery glands which are a group of glands responsible for lubricating and disinfecting the nipples especially when you are breastfeeding.
They may appear on the nipple itself or the surrounding area called the areola.
The causes of Montgomery tubercles include;
- The increase in progesterone and estrogen hormones when you become pregnant.
- Physical changes
- A hormonal imbalance
2. Pregnancy sign
The bump on the nipple can also be a sign of pregnancy. This will be in the form of the Montgomery tubercles.
As the levels of estrogen and progesterone hormones go up after getting pregnant, there are many changes that will occur in the body. The two hormones help in preparing the body for the pregnancy and birth of the child.
One way they do this is by preparing the breasts for breastfeeding. You will often notice the enlargement of the breasts with the Montgomery tubercles also being present around or on the nipples.
In most women, having the Montgomery tubercles is a sure sign of a pregnancy. Even with that, you need to be sure of several things that may cause these bumps in equal measure.
3. Blisters and pimples on nipple
Unknown to many women, pimples and blisters can appear on any part of the body. The skin around the nipples is quite sensitive to injuries and irritation from chemicals.
For this reason, some of the conditions that may cause pimples and blisters on the nipple are;
- Bruising the nipples
- Burning by hot water or heat
- Using soaps and other skin products that irritate the skin
- Having dry skin and scratching
4. Infected nipple piercing bump
Having a nipple piercing increases the likelihood of having an infection on the breast. When compared to other piercings on the rest of the body, a nipple piercing penetrates the skin and bypasses the first defense of the body against external germs which pass through the skin.
The piercing on the nipple goes through soft tissue which is connected to the ducts spread throughout the rest of the breast.
There is a difference between an infected nipple piercing and one that is simply irritated or inflamed.
While a new piercing will be inflamed and returns to normal after a period of time, an infected nipple will have the following traits and symptoms;
- Body aches
- Bad odor at the site of the piercing
- The pierced site might swell
- Brown, yellow or green discharge
- Pain and sensitivity when the pierced area is touched
- A feeling of hotness when the area is touched.
The infection from a nipple piercing occurs when you introduce germs to it such as when you touch it many times, add saliva to it, use infectious products, or wear clothes with irritants.
5. Sub areolar abscess
A sub areolar abscess is an accumulation of pus in the tissues of the breasts. Since most cases of the sub areolar abscess occur in women who are breastfeeding, it has been associated with mastitis. However, even women who are not breastfeeding may get the sub areolar abscess.
This condition occurs as a swollen and tender tissue under the areolar gland. The areolar gland is the tissue surrounding the nipple. It is usually quite painful and a sign of breast cancer especially in those who are not breastfeeding.
6. Blocked hair follicles
It is common to have blocked hair follicles around the nipples owing to the amount of oil secreted by the areolar glands. For this reason, dirt and dead cells may be trapped in this region leading to blocked pores.
The result of this blockage is bumps or pimples on and around the nipples. It is a problem that can be easily dealt with.
Given that acne can appear on any part of the body, the nipples are not spared. When on the nipples, it may appear as pimples or whiteheads.
Acne on the pimples can occur at any age. You are also more likely to have acne on the nipples if you work out a lot and thus often have sweaty clothes on your body and right before your periods.
8. Yeast infection
A yeast infection can also cause bumps or pimples on your nipples. This will be the case especially when the pimples occur as a rash and are itchy and red in color.
Yeast infections are common and may have different symptoms in different people. Other symptoms that may help you decide whether you have a yeast infection or not include;
- A cheese-like white and thick discharge that has no odor.
- A watery vaginal discharge.
- A vaginal rash.
- Pain and soreness in the vagina.
- Swelling and redness in the vagina.
- Burning sensation during urination and sexual intercourse.
- Itching vaginal opening.
When you have a yeast infection, you may not likely have the symptoms on the nipples. The other symptoms are easy to identify.
9. Breast cancer
Breast cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in women. If the pimples on the nipples have discharge in the form of pus or blood, then it could be breast cancer.
Other symptoms of breast cancer include;
- Thickening, scaliness and redness of the breast skin or the nipple.
- The nipple may turn inward in what’s known as nipple retraction.
- Pain in the nipple or the whole breast.
- A lump when the breast is massaged.
- Swelling of the breast either wholly or partly.
Frequent breast cancer checks should be done to prevent spreading to other parts of the body or mastectomy (cutting off the breast).
Bumps on nipples when breastfeeding
When breastfeeding, it is common to have bumps on the nipples which may make it quite uncomfortable to carry out this exercise. You may have symptoms varying in intensity.
These bumps may be accompanied by other symptoms such as;
- Cracks in the nipples
- Burning sensation in the breasts
- Itching nipples
- Bumps on or around the nipples
- Deep pain during and after breastfeeding
This condition may affect the baby in several ways such as;
- Patches on the inside of the lips which are cottage-cheese in appearance.
- A rash
- Crying when breastfeeding
The causes of bumps on nipples when breastfeeding all center around improper breastfeeding techniques. For example, holding the baby wrongly when feeding it may trigger these bumps on the nipples. If the baby latches on the breast improperly, they may also be the cause of the bumps.
Chewing or biting on the nipple as they breastfeed is also likely to lead to these bumps on the breasts. Always make sure that the baby has stopped suckling before removing them from the breast. If you do not do this, you may also have bumps on the nipples.
Pimple like white bumps on nipples
Having pimple-like white bumps on the nipples is most likely observing the areola bumps which are commonly called Montgomery tubercles.
These are the outward expression of the Montgomery glands which are the glands responsible for disinfecting and lubricating the nipples.
These glands are sebaceous in that they produce an oily secretion which keeps the nipples supple at all times. Besides that, the secretion has antiseptic properties which ensure that no germs can infiltrate the nipple and cause diseases in the body.
The same secretion from these bumps ensures that the baby does not ingest germs when suckling and the suckling does not also dry up the nipples.
The appearance of these bumps is associated with the increase in the levels of progesterone and estrogen hormones such as when you get pregnant.
They may also appear when you have hormonal imbalance, are stressed or have had some physical changes to the body such as a rapid loss or gain of weight.
Painful bumps around nipples and breast
If the bumps around the nipples and the breast become painful, chances are that you may be having an infection. If the bumps also have a discharge, then you need to have it checked as it could be a sign of a serious underlying problem.
The normal occurrence of bumps on the nipples and the breast should not be painful in any way. The normal bumps on nipples are caused by a pregnancy, hormonal imbalance, stress or bodily changes.
On the other hand, painful bumps on nipples can be caused by;
- Breast cancer
- A yeast infection
- A blocked hair follicle
- Sub areolar abscess
- Infected nipple piercings
- A blister from a burn or use of irritants on the skin
- At other times, the painful bumps may be due to wrong breastfeeding procedures.
Always go for a check each time you have painful bumps on or around the nipples.
Red itchy bumps around areolas
Red itchy bumps around the areolas are a sign of a developing disease. This is because healthy bumps on or around the nipples should either be white, slightly black or the color of the breast. They should also not itch or have a discharge.
How to get rid of bumps on nipples
One thing you need to know is that you should never scratch or pop the bumps or pimples on the nipples or breast.
The structure of the breast is such that a lot of ducts and tissues are very close to the skin. If you pop or smoother the bumps, you could easily infect the rest of the breast. Removal or treatment of these bumps will depend on their causes.
To get rid of these bumps safely, follow these instructions;
- Most bumps and pimples on the nipples can easily go away on their own especially those caused by a pregnancy.
- If it’s a case of a yeast infection, you may simply need to have the right antifungal medicine administered. You may need to use an antifungal cream on the nipples to help do away with the infection.
If you are breastfeeding, your child may also be infected hence the need to treat them as well.
- The prescription of antibiotics such as doxycycline (Vibramycin, Adoxa) can also help clear the bumps. In most cases, these are low-dose antibiotics.
- If your doctor is suspecting cancer, you will undergo a biopsy and a mammogram to confirm or dispute the suspicion.
If it is cancer, you may need to undergo the various cancer treatments including chemotherapy, radiotherapy, tumor removal through surgery, or surgical removal of the cancerous tissue.
- In case of a sub areolar abscess, the affected tissue may need to be drained for any excessive fluid. After that, you will be put on a dose of antibiotics to help keep away the infection. At times, the affected breast tissue may need to be surgically removed to prevent further damage.
Correct diagnosis of the bumps is only possible with the help of a doctor.
- Breast cancer: Symptoms, risk factors, and treatment – Medical News Today
- Pregnancy symptoms: Top 11 early signs of pregnancy | BabyCenter
- Yeast Infections: Symptoms, Treatments, Causes – WebMD