The thoracic nipple is the exit site of the milky sinuses through which milk flows. It is surrounded by a skin of a darkish color – the areola. The nipple along with the areola have an increased sensitivity, especially during sexual arousal. Sometimes, however, irritation is caused by less pleasant causes.
The main thing is without panic: usually it is easy to get rid of soreness, you just need to find the reason for its appearance. It can be both changes in lifestyle and serious diseases. Let’s figure out what you can do on your own and when to go to a gynecologist or mammologist.
1.Irritation from underwear or sportswear
Long running training in one way or another affects the health of the skin: there are irritations, scuffs or cracks. Sensitive areas of the nipples also suffer, especially if your sports sconce does not fit in size or shape. Choose a sports uniform from moisture-removing materials and use special sticks or creams – you will find tubes marked “from rubbing” in sports stores or pharmacies. Vaseline or oils in their composition relieve friction between skin and clothing, apply them before training or running over long distances.
2. Hormonal changes
Sex hormones are responsible for the formation of mammary glands and their preparation for lactation. Estradiol is necessary for puberty, progesterone is responsible for the growth of ducts and lobules in the mammary gland, prolactin – provides lactation. When the level of sex hormones fluctuates, the state of the breast also changes: in these cases, discomfort is symmetrical on both sides and spread throughout the mammary gland, they can be described as a feeling of heaviness and slight swelling.
Every month, shortly before the onset of menstruation, a feeling of tightening or swelling in the chest may appear. This usually causes mild discomfort, which does not require any intervention, but if necessary, you can take simple over-the-counter painkillers. If the pain is very pronounced, consult a gynecologist about the possibility of taking hormonal contraceptives, which temporarily reduce hormonal activity and pain.
And remember, swelling or tightening of the nipples is one of the first signs of pregnancy. At this time, the body’s level of progesterone increases, the uterus prepares for bearing the baby, and the mammary glands for future lactation. If the discomfort is very pronounced, consult a gynecologist about the possibility of taking hormonal contraceptives, which will temporarily reduce hormonal activity and pain.
3. Infectious diseases of the nipples
In the areola area there are large pores and hair follicles, prone to inflammatory reactions. As a rule, infections develop against the background of sweating – irritation due to the accumulation of sweat in the area of natural folds. If you wear tight synthetic underwear, inflammation can spread from under your chest to your nipple.
One of the most unpleasant diseases is a fungal infection. It is manifested by burning, soreness, redness of the nipple and areola. Nursing mothers often develop thrush: infection occurs due to candidiasis of the oral cavity in the baby and is manifested by a whitish bloom on the nipple. Consult a doctor who will pick up antifungal ointments for you, and in severe cases, antibiotics.
If you are prone to irritation in the chest area, change underwear more often and use special ointments that protect the skin from scuffs due to petroleum jelly or glycerin. With the development of sweating, pay attention to hygiene: wash irritated places with ordinary soap twice a day, carefully and dry with a towel and apply creams with zinc.
4. Taking medications or dietary supplements
Medications can lead to unpleasant sensations in the nipple: sometimes they become unusually sensitive, sometimes small secretions appear. Such side effects often accompany the use of herbal supplements or medications prescribed by a psychiatrist: many psychotropic drugs change the hormonal background and, therefore, the condition of the nipples.
Some antidepressants, for example, cause an increase in the concentration of prolactin in the blood – this hormone is responsible for lactation and can lead to the appearance of small secretions from the nipples and their pain. Typically, these side effects are prescribed in the instructions for the drug, but if this causes serious discomfort, consult your doctor.
5. Allergic reaction
Itching and redness in the nipple area, most likely, indicate the development of allergies. Try to remember what you used shortly before its appearance: a new soap, cream, washing powder, freshener? Sensitive skin in the nipple region can negatively react to any cosmetic product.
It is best to return to the usual cosmetics and laundry detergent or choose new packages in the store marked “hypoallergenic” and “without fragrance”. The allergy should go away on its own, but if this does not happen, seek the advice of a therapist – you may need to take antihistamines.
Soreness in the first days of feeding is completely normal. At this time, iron increases in volume and its ducts expand – it changes to produce high-grade milk. To maintain the health of the mammary glands, it is necessary to establish a feeding regimen, decant excess milk with a breast pump and apply daily means for hygienic care of the nipples. Such creams contain lanolin, dexapanthenol or natural oils that soften and moisturize the skin, creating a protective breathing film.
Treat nipple cracks with antiseptic solutions without alcohol and ointments with zinc, retinol or means to accelerate healing – this care prevents infection. You can feed your baby at this time through special silicone pads.
With prolonged lactostasis or untreated cracks, the mammary gland can become inflamed. It becomes reddish, swollen and warm to the touch, a focus of compaction appears – mastitis develops. Feeding becomes painfully painful, temperature rises, headache. Greenish (purulent) discharge from the nipple may appear. All these symptoms speak only about one thing: it is time to see a doctor. Before your recovery, you need to interrupt breastfeeding and switch to milk formulas.
7. Oncological disease
One of the most dangerous causes of soreness in the nipple is breast cancer. It can be recognized by its characteristic signs: discomfort in one breast and the appearance of discharge from the nipple. The pain in this case is not related to the cycle or any exposure to allergens, it appears suddenly and gradually increases, accompanied by constant fatigue.
Usually, oncological processes affect the tissues of the gland itself, but in the case of Paget’s disease, the process affects the area of the nipple. This is a very rare form of cancer, which is manifested by the redness of the nipple and the formation of a crust on the areola – it becomes similar to the peel of an orange. Over time, pain increases, itching and burning appear.
Discharge from the nipples, especially with an admixture of blood, or a palpable lump in the chest area is a signal that you need to consult a mammologist. To distinguish benign formations from a serious illness, a specialist will help an ultrasound of the mammary glands. Do not postpone a visit to the doctor: the key to successful treatment in case of cancer processes is early detection and complex therapy.
Usually, soreness of the nipples does not mean any danger and passes in a couple of days, especially if you figured out a reason like uncomfortable clothing or the onset of menstruation. If the discomfort is constant or is accompanied by discharge from the nipples – it’s time to see a doctor.