Bumps On Areola And Nipples: Causes, Diagnosis, And Treatment

Written by Monomita Chakraborty

Have you ever wondered why your nipples have little bumps on them? Don’t be concerned! Fortunately, many changes in your nipples are usually harmless, and many aspects of your nipples – from little bumps to ingrown hair – are natural and nothing to worry about. However, if you are experiencing pain, rashes, abnormal discharge, or other symptoms, you should consult a doctor once.

This article discusses the causes of bumps on nipples, how you can treat them, and much more. Keep reading!

What Are The Bumps On Your Nipples? Should You Worry? Expert Insights

Daniel Boyer, M.D., says, “They are oil-producing glands on the areola (the darker area of both men’s and women’s breasts) skin surrounding the nipples.” He also adds, “According to the National Health Service (NHS), they are normal occurrences that people should not worry about. However, they may also appear due to certain medical conditions that may require medical attention.”

Do you suspect you may have some medical condition? Look out for the symptoms mentioned in the next section.

Symptoms To Look Out For

  • Bumps on the areola
  • Bumps on the nipples
  • Bumps on the skin around the breast
  • Bumps secreting a discharge
  • Swelling on and around the bumps
  • Flaky or scaly bumps
  • Redness
  • Areola or nipple rash

A variety of factors can cause bumps on the nipples. Learn more about them in the next section!

Causes Of Bumps On Nipples

Various factors can cause bumps on nipples (or areola):

1. Pimples Or Acne

Sweat, germs, and debris can get stuck in the pores around your nipples, leading to acne or pimples. The pores may swell up as a result of this. The majority of nipple pimples are whiteheads. If you regularly get acne on your nipples or breasts, you may need to step up your hygiene game.

2. Ingrown Hairs

Pimple-like bumps rise up when the hair follicles around the nipple become clogged or when hair starts growing downward or sideways. The majority of ingrown hairs go away independently, but you should monitor them for infection.

3. Nipple Dermatitis

Nipple dermatitis is characterized by itching or pain in one or both nipples. This condition could be caused by eczema (atopic dermatitis), thrush (oral yeast infection), or an allergic reaction (contact dermatitis) (1). Breastfeeding, jogging friction, and other contact irritants – like soaps, cleansers, or chlorine – are common causes of this condition.

4. Breast Cysts

A soft, fluid-filled sac on the breast is referred to as a breast cyst. It may also look like a lump. It forms when fluid fills up an empty milk gland. It may also form spontaneously due to age-related hormonal changes. It is normal to have several cysts (2).

5. Swollen Montgomery Glands

Montgomery glands are tiny, painless bumps on the areola that release an oily material. These glands can sometimes become inflamed, irritated, or infected. They may appear red and swollen when they are irritated. Pushing or squeezing them can cause discomfort or infection. Ointments, bra fabrics, breast pads, soaps, and other products can irritate these glands.

6. Milk Blisters

Milk blisters are white, clear, or yellow bumps on the nipple (3). They last from a few days to weeks. Milk blisters form when the skin grows over a milk duct opening, and the milk backs up behind it, causing inflammation and pain. Milk blisters can be uncomfortable, but they are not dangerous.

7. Breast Cancer

Nipple bumps can be a symptom of breast cancer. You should consult a doctor if your nipple begins to turn inward or starts secreting a discharge (4).

8. Fibroadenoma

A fibroadenoma is a non-cancerous lump in the breast. These smooth, spherical, solid lumps are made up of a mass of fibrous and glandular tissue. Fibroadenomas come in a variety of sizes and can grow or decrease on their own. Breast cancer can occur in conjunction with a fibroadenoma in extremely unusual circumstances (5).

9. Subareolar Abscess

An infection can cause a subareolar abscess in the tissue beneath the nipples and areola or the lactiferous duct getting clogged by keratin. It can appear as a pimple or a lump (6).  Redness, swelling, breast tenderness, and discharge are some of its symptoms. A doctor should treat a subareolar abscess since it can lead to inverted nipples or the creation of a fistula if left untreated.

10. Complications From Nipple Piercings

Infections can occur in a nipple piercing, especially if the piercing is new. This can lead to cysts or hematomas, which are collections of fluid or blood beneath the skin. These can result in nipple bumps.

Some nipple bumps may be accompanied by swelling, discomfort, and the release of an abnormal discharge. It is best to consult a healthcare professional to determine what type of bumps you have. Read on to learn more about how your doctor can diagnose the condition.

Diagnosis

A healthcare expert may check them visually and manually to determine the cause of the bumps on your nipples. The doctor may refer you to a specialist if the bumps require further evaluation. Mammography or an ultrasound scan may be performed. Specialists may also conduct some tests on the tissue in the infected area.

Based on the results of the diagnosis, the doctor will proceed with the treatment. Scroll down to the next section to learn more.

Treatments

  • Blocked Montgomery glands and ingrown hair may respond effectively to a warm compress.
  • Some breastfeeding women may get nipple dermatitis or eczema as the nipples become irritated by the baby’s mouth, tight clothes, or retained moisture. In such circumstances, consulting with a doctor or lactation expert is recommended, as treatments for breastfeeding women may differ from those for non-breastfeeding women.
  • It is a good idea to wear garments made of all-natural or moisture-wicking fibers. It allows your skin to breathe while managing moisture. Also, it prevents extra oils and dirt from accumulating and aggravating the bumps on your nipples.
  • The doctor may prescribe low-dose antibiotics to help clear acne on nipples.
  • Topical antifungal creams can be used to treat bumps caused by a yeast infection. If you are breastfeeding, there is a chance that the baby may have an oral yeast infection, also known as thrush, that they may have passed on to you. Make sure they are both treated at the same time by your pediatrician.
  • If you have been diagnosed with breast cancer, a doctor may suggest treatments like chemotherapy or a mastectomy.

Most nipple bumps are not a cause for concern. But if you notice some worrying symptoms, you can consult a doctor. Find out when to do so in the next section.

When Should You See A Doctor?

You should see a doctor if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Any unusual changes in your breasts and nipples, including new bumps.
  • If at-home treatments do not relieve the pain.
  • Red bumps that are warm to the touch and accompanied by fever.
  • Nipple pain.
  • Swelling
  • Flaky or scaly skin.
  • A sudden rash on and around the areola or nipple.
  • Irritation and discomfort.
  • Burning sensation.
  • Any form of discharge.

We’ve included some tips and suggestions in the following section to help you prevent possible bumps. Continue scrolling.

Prevention Tips

  • Maintain a proper skin care regimen. Wash your nipples and breasts with a mild cleanser daily and dry them completely before getting dressed.
  • To keep your nipples supple and prevent bumps, apply a fragrance-free moisturizer.
  • Avoid tight-fitting clothes/bras that keep your nipples moist.
  • If you are pregnant, keep changing your breastfeeding positions to ensure that the milk ducts are completely emptied.
  • Wipe off sweat immediately.
  • Avoid using chemical and artificial skin care products on the breasts.
  • Pay special attention to any dry skin on the nipples. Use an exfoliant to remove the dead skin cells.

Do men get the same type of nipple bumps as women? Continue reading to find out!

Men Vs. Women – Bumps On Nipple Comparison

Both men and women can get bumps on their nipples and chest/breasts. Breastfeeding, wearing a bra, and hormonal changes are additional causes of these bumps for women.

Men can develop nipple bumps like acne and ingrown hair as well. Men can also get breast cancer. So, anyone with an unexplained and uncomfortable bump on or near their nipple should see a doctor for a diagnosis.

Daniel Boyer says, “The same causes of bumps on the nipples apply to both men and women, apart from nipple bumps caused due to pregnancy in women.”

Bumps on the nipples are the oil-producing glands on the areola that develop due to ingrown hair, acne, or milk blisters. Sometimes, they may signify an underlying medical condition such as breast cancer or infection. You can try home remedies such as warm compresses or ointments for relief. Consult your doctor if the bump is accompanied by pus, swelling, or pain. Depending on the cause, they may prescribe ointments or other treatments for the bumps. In addition, following tips such as maintaining personal hygiene and a skin care routine can prevent bumps.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you pop the bumps on your nipples?

No, bumps on the nipples should be left alone because popping them increases the risk of infection.

What do pregnancy nipple bumps look like?

Pregnancy nipple bumps are elevated tiny, white bumps on the nipple and surrounding areola that look similar to goosebumps.

Why are my Montgomery glands showing?

Your Montgomery glands can enlarge as a result of hormonal changes during pregnancy. However, they are nothing to be concerned about. They will fade away as your hormone levels return to normal.

Key Takeaways

  • Bumps on the nipples are nothing but oil-producing glands on the surrounding skin (the darker part of both men’s and women’s breasts).
  • Various factors can cause bumps on the nipples. These include pimples or acne, ingrown hairs, nipple dermatitis, breast cysts, swollen montgomery glands, milk blisters, fibroadenoma, subareolar abscess, complications from nipple piercings, and breast cancer.
  • The majority of nipple bumps are harmless. However, if you have pain, rashes, unusual discharge, or other symptoms, you should see a doctor right away.

Sources

Articles on StyleCraze are backed by verified information from peer-reviewed and academic research papers, reputed organizations, research institutions, and medical associations to ensure accuracy and relevance. Read our editorial policy to learn more.

  1. Nipple Eczema: A Diagnostic Challenge of Allergic Contact Dermatitis
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC4069662/
  2. Breast Cyst
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK562196/
  3. Case Report of the Management of Milk Blebs
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34762834/
  4. Nipple Discharge: An Early Warning Sign of Breast Cancer
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC3506094/
  5. Breast Fibroadenoma
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK535345/
  6. Chronic recurrent subareolar abscess formation
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/6541414/

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