Itchy Nipples

1 Itchy nipples

Nowadays, we are bombed with a variety of information everywhere. Television, billboards, Internet, newspapers, and practically every media source offers research results, advice and solutions for your problems. Much of this information is medically relevant, speaking of and raising awareness on certain conditions and diseases. However, you won’t hear a lot about nipples. Our global culture is still very sensitive when it comes to discussing body parts that are deemed private, and nipples fit into this category. This is why, when facing problems with nipples, many of us are shy to mention it, even though this issue can be extremely annoying, persevering, and sometimes dangerous.

If you have ever experienced a nipple itch, a million thoughts run through your head. One of them might have been a scary “what if” question. The good news is that your worst fear scenario is actually not so common after all. Even though sore and itchy nipples are undoubtedly uncomfortable and sometimes even embarrassing, you shouldn’t fear that you have some rare disease, let alone breast cancer. Many people, both male, and female suffer from the same problem and the majority of them have different levels of discomfort. The itching sensation that you feel can be experienced in one or both nipples with varying intensity and depending on this fact, this might interfere with your everyday functioning.  Some patients reported that they can’t sleep normally due to the extreme all time itchiness, while others experience only occasional discomfort. Symptom duration is also individual; some people have persisting problems, while others manage to solve the issue in a shorter time span.

2 Itchy nipple causes

There is a vast sea of possible reasons why your nipples suddenly became so itchy that they feel like they have been touched by poison ivy. These reasons range from weather, dermatological conditions, skin irritation and sensitivity, to rarer and more complicated medical conditions. Also, certain causes are relevant only to female gender, like nipple itch in women caused by pregnancy or lactating. Let’s first discuss causes that can be applied to both men and women.

If we divide possible nipple itch causes into categories, we have several groups:

3 Contact dermatitis

Contact dermatitis is by far the most common cause of itchy nipples. Contact dermatitis is an allergic response that skin displays when reacting to certain substances or materials. If you have recently begun to use new soap, shower gel, deodorant, powder, perfume, body milk, etc. and they have been in touch with your nipples, this may be the answer to the sudden discomfort you are sensing. Another possible cause for irritated skin and nipples could be the detergent you use for washing your sheets and clothes. In addition, many people have reported that clothing made of certain materials, such as latex, nickel in their bra, or even ill-fitted clothes caused the problems with breast skin.

People who exercise regularly and professional athletes often have a problem with so-called Jogger’s nipple. Jogger’s nipple is dry, sore, and itchy nipples as a result of prolonged friction. Contact dermatitis can also be developed if your body doesn’t have enough adequate ventilation, meaning if you are living in tropical regions with increased heat and humidity. On the other hand, severe winter coldness can also cause dryness, irritation, and itchiness of nipples.

4 Atopic dermatitis

Atopic dermatitis is a general name for any condition that makes your skin red and itchy. When localized on nipples, this condition is known as nipple eczema. Determining causes for nipple eczema can be tricky, and it may require certain tests. In order to set a diagnosis, your doctor will have to know your medical history and perform a physical examination. In the majority of cases, nipple eczema is developed as a response to untreated contact dermatitis. What makes a difference between contact and atopic dermatitis is the presence of other symptoms as well. If you have atopic dermatitis, i.e. nipple eczema, besides itchiness you may experience redness, dryness, weeping, and sometimes crusting and bleeding. Since there are cracks on the skin surface, there is a higher risk of getting an infection by Staphylococcus aureus. Having an infection will prolong the healing of eczema, and that’s why it’s so important to heal the infection fast. Eczema is treated with topical steroids, creams and ointments in order to ease your symptoms.

5 Itchy nipple piercing

If you are into body jewelry and at some point in your life you had your nipple pierced, this may be the reason why all of a sudden you are experiencing this itching sensation. The intensity of itchiness doesn’t have to be the same in both nipples. The most probable reason which lies behind itchy pierced nipples is the fact that the healing process isn’t finished yet. In addition, all the causes that apply to contact dermatitis may apply here if you have a habit of washing your jewelry. 

6 Itchy nipple breast cancer

An extremely rare type of breast cancer, Paget’s disease of the nipple, may be the cause of a nipple itch. The incidence rate is 1 to 2 women of every 100 women suffering from breast cancer. The mechanism of this disease is comprised of several stages. Cancer cells firstly attack the milk ducts of the nipple. Afterwards, cancer spreads to the surface of the nipple and surrounding area (so called areola). Symptoms include a red rash on the nipple and on the area around it, itchiness, bleeding, and discharge from the nipple. Sometimes a lump can be felt and the entire breast area may be extremely tender and swollen. This type of cancer affects both men and women, with slightly higher incident rates in a woman. Risky age comes after the 50th year, which is when the disease usually occurs. However, all of these symptoms may be indicative of other diseases as well, so before you make any hasty conclusions in panic, you should visit your doctor so he or she can make an adequate diagnosis and suggest appropriate treatments.

7 Itchy nipples women

A number of causes responsible for dry and sore, itchy nipples are characteristic only for women. These include:

  • Yeast infection
  • Signs of pregnancy
  • Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
  • Menopause
  • Breastfeeding

Yeast infection, also called thrush, may cause serious pain and discomfort in the nipple area. The skin flora is normally comprised of a variety of fungi and bacteria living in harmony. However, when this delicate balance is disturbed, certain microorganisms may multiply and cause an infection. This usually occurs when the immune system is compromised and the majority of the organism defense mechanisms are down. Candida fungus causes yeast infection in the nipples which is displayed by the following symptoms: severe nipple and breast pains, nipple discoloration, white dots in forms of bumps and pimples on the nipple and areola, and a skin rash with small blisters full of fluid.

Signs of pregnancy - In early stages of pregnancy, characteristic nipple itch sometimes occurs. Itchy nipples in pregnancy happens due to a hormonal imbalance and a variety of other processes typical for pregnancy. Since this is a natural process, your doctor will advise you to try alternative treatment methods, like showering with colder water, ointments based on natural ingredients, and in general avoiding of cosmetics based on artificial components.

Premenstrual Syndrome – As a part of a group of symptoms which constitute premenstrual syndrome, many girls and women regularly have dry and itchy nipples. The moment the period starts, this symptom is supposed to disappear and you shouldn’t feel any discomfort in the nipple area. In case nipple itchiness persists even after you have gotten your period, you should visit a doctor to determine the cause.

Menopause – There is a number of symptoms characteristic of the complex process of change that your body will go through during menopause and many of them are linked to an increasing of estrogen. Estrogen excess during this delicate period may also affect your breast, and this may result in tenderness and itchiness of your nipple area.

Breastfeeding – Breastfeeding a baby brings many benefits both to the mother and child. Yet, due to constant exposure to lip/teeth – nipple friction and contact, small wounds can appear on the surface of the nipple. Through these small openings, bacteria and fungi may enter and cause an infection. Because of it, many mothers experience pain, dryness, and itchiness of the nipples during the breastfeeding period. Nipples can become flaky and scaly. To alleviate this, try mixing equal amounts of coconut oil and honey, rubbing it to the affected area, and washing with cold water after 10 to 15 minutes.

8 Itchy nipples men

There aren’t any specific causes that are deemed responsible for nipple itching in males. If we exclude women-related specific conditions, itchy nipples in males can be a symptom of allergic reactions, inflammation, and irritation. A feeling on the surface of the skin may be upsetting, but in the majority of cases, it doesn’t pose any serious threat to your health. Since men are usually not wearing upper clothing when sunbathing, sunburn can cause localized itch. Also, as a side effect of certain medication, sometimes sore nipples occur, so if you have recently begun to use a new drug, consider this as a possible cause. Finally, an allergic reaction to an insect bite, for example, bee or mosquito sting, may cause the itchiness due to toxic spread underneath the skin. Whatever the cause, it is of great importance to begin the treatment timely in order to avoid more serious complications. Only your doctor can advise you how to properly alleviate your symptoms and heal fast.