Bumps on the nipples: What could be the cause?

Bumps appear to be natural on the nipples. However, because of certain medical conditions, they may also occur. Although the cause is not necessarily anything to worry about, there are certain situations that may require medical treatment.

The causes of the bumps and their symptoms may depend on their location. Bumps will appear, for instance, on the:

  • areola, which is the darker area of skin surrounding the nipple
  • nipple, which is at the center of the darker area
  • skin around the breast

This article will look at why a person, including during pregnancy and breastfeeding, may develop bumps on their nipples.

Areolar glands

In the areola, areolar glands, or Montgomery glands, are present. On the areola, the raised bumps a person may note are part of the glands.

They are common, according to the National Health Service ( NHS). They generate an oily fluid that helps keep the nipple secure and moist. During breastfeeding, this can be particularly significant, as it helps protect the nipple from bacteria.

In males, areolar glands are also present.

They are totally common and do not need counseling.

Acne

On the nipples, areolas, and skin around the breast, acne may occur. When sebum and dirt obstruct the pores, a pimple develops.

Due to the following causes, people can experience acne:

  • experiencing hormonal changes
  • using certain cosmetic products
  • taking certain medications
  • regularly wearing items that apply pressure to an affected area

Treatment

Usually, a pimple will resolve spontaneously. If the acne is severe, however, a person may pursue a number of options for treatment.

Read more here on how pimples should be treated.

Folliculitis

Folliculitis is a common infection that occurs in the hair follicles of an individual. Except for the soles of the feet and the palms of the hand, it can impact every part of the body.

It looks similar to an acne outbreak, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. Itching or discomfort can also be perceived by a person.

It can occur because of:

  • touching or rubbing the skin
  • wearing tight clothing
  • shaving

Treatment

Usually, folliculitis can resolve spontaneously if the cause is stopped by a person.

However, for 15-20 minutes, a person may apply a warm compress to the skin three to four times per day.

Ingrown hair

When a hair grows back into the skin, an incarnated hair appears. An individual may notice raised, flushed, itchy spots when this happens.

An individual can see pus in them if these spots are infected.

Treatment

Ingrown hairs are usually naturally resolved. An individual should, however, keep an eye on them in the event that they become infected.

Read more about the care of incarnated hair at home here.

Nipple dermatitis

A scaly rash may be caused by nipple dermatitis, or nipple eczema. Irritation and itchiness can also be encountered by a person.

Although it usually affects female adolescents, children, teenagers, and older adults may also be affected.

As a result of a reaction to certain products or fabrics, such as new soaps or laundry detergents, nipple dermatitis may occur.

Treatment

Some individuals will need a topical steroids course.

An individual should try to avoid the irritant or allergen that originally triggered the reaction in order to help prevent eczema from recurring.

Breast cysts

Breast cysts are a common cause of breast lumps, and they may feel like a big blister when they are close to the surface. They can feel like rough lumps if they are deeper in the breast tissue.

Breast cysts, which means that they are not cancerous, are benign.

Treatment

For a breast cyst, an individual does not need any therapy. However, it is still safer to get any fresh breast lumps examined by a doctor. They will be able to analyze the lump and decide whether any further action is required or not.

A healthcare professional can remove the fluid from the cyst using a fine needle and a syringe if the cyst is large or causing pain.

Fibroadenoma

Fibroadenoma is a non-cancerous disorder that causes tissue to develop in the breast. Fibroadenomas are smooth to the touch and will move easily under the skin. Normally, they are painless, but they may feel tender.

During their 20s and 30s, fibroadenomas are more common in females, but they may occur at any age.

Treatment

Many fibroadenomas do not need any therapy and usually maintain the same size or fully disappear over time.

If it is big, a person might need surgery to remove the fibroadenoma.

Breast cancer

Breast lumps, though they may not show as bumps on the nipple, may be an early sign of breast cancer.

Some other possible breast cancer symptoms include:

  • skin changes around the breast, including puckering or dimpling
  • color changes, such as the breast looking flushed
  • nipple discharge
  • sunken or inverted nipples
  • peeling, scaling, or flaking of the skin on the nipple or breast
  • a change in the size or shape of the breast

Treatment

Treatment will depend on the type of breast cancer a person has and the diagnosis.

Paget ‘s disease of the nipple

An uncommon form of breast cancer is Paget ‘s disease. It can affect anyone, although it is more prevalent in females.

It happens in the nipple or areola when cancer cells begin to accumulate. Doctors do not yet fully know, however, what causes Paget’s nipple disease.

Some signs of Paget’s nipple disease include:

  • itching and tingling sensations in the nipple, which can also extend to the areola
  • flaky, crusty, or thickened skin that may also look inflamed
  • yellow or bloody discharge from the nipple

To diagnose Paget ‘s disease of the nipple, a healthcare professional will administer a biopsy. This includes extracting from the affected breast any cells or tissue and analyzing the sample under a microscope.

Treatment

Treatment may vary depending on:

  • the stage of the tumor
  • the degree of malignancy
  • the size of the tumor
  • the presence or absence of metastatic disease
  • the person’s age and general health

During pregnancy

It is normal during pregnancy to undergo changes to the nipples and breasts, according to the NHS.

Many individuals can find that their nipples and breasts are becoming more tender. In the nipples, they can even experience a tingling sensation. This is possibly because hormones, such as progesterone, are rising and the milk ducts are becoming deeper in the breasts.

The areolar glands can also get larger, so they may become more noticeable in the bumps on the nipples.

An individual can find lumps forming during pregnancy. These involve fibroadenomas and cysts, but they may involve galactoceles as well. Galactoceles are similar to cysts, but instead of any other fluid, they are filled with milk.

During breastfeeding

During breastfeeding, bumps on the nipples may also develop.

The milk ducts in the breasts, for example, can become blocked and lead to visible bumps developing on and around the nipples. These are tiny and feel like lumps that are hard. They can feel painful as well.

An individual should feed the baby more often and gently massage the lump while doing so, to help relieve blocked milk ducts.

Any other causes of bumps during breastfeeding on the nipples include:

Thrush

Thrush may also occur on the nipples, which is a form of yeast infection.

A person may notice:

  • nipples that feel itchy or burn
  • flushed, shiny nipples and areolas that have a rash with small blisters
  • shooting pains in the breast after or during feeding

Generally, therapy requires topical antifungal creams.

Milk blisters

Milk blisters, or milk blebs, are tiny white spots that occur at the wrong angle when the nipple pores are blocked because of shallow sucking, an inaccurate latch, or breastfeeding.

Diagnosis

To diagnose the cause of the bumps, a healthcare professional will inspect the breasts and nipples. The doctor may refer the individual to a breast clinic if the bumps need further investigation.

If this happens, it doesn’t necessarily mean there is a cause for concern. In order to diagnose any disorder they may have, it may just be that a person requires specialist testing.

Scans, such as a mammogram or an ultrasound scan, can involve tests at a breast clinic. Cells or tissue may also be removed from the infected region by specialists and the sample may be examined under a microscope.

When to see a doctor

If they find any odd changes to their breasts and nipples, including any new bumps, a person should see a doctor.

Summary

Bumps on or around the nipples have many possible causes. Many causes are benign and can naturally resolve.

If a person notices anything uncommon relating to their breasts or nipples, they should see a doctor right away.

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