- Why do you have pimples on or around your nipples?
- How to treat a pimple on your nipple?
- How to treat pimples on your nipples with home remedies?
- Precautions and prevention
- Things to remember
Bumps or spots that simply look like pimples can be present anywhere on the body. However, the appearance of such spots on nipples of breast can be disconcerting. With so much fear over breast cancer and other related disorders, a bump that looks like a pimple around or on the nipple could trigger you into panic mode. Luckily, most strange looking little pimples on the breast are nothing to be worried about, though you should still pay a visit to your doctor if you are concerned. Finding out what causes breast acne, how to avoid occurrence of pimples on nipple and how to treat them should help treat this condition, or at least help in managing it. This is what our article is about.
Common causative factors are:
Nipples are an important part of female breast and are an area richly supplied by glands including sweat glands and sebaceous glands. Pimples may appear here, as on any other area of your body. A pimple appears when the duct draining any of these numerous glands becomes clogged up (1, 2). Secretions start getting accumulated within the gland and the glands are unable to drain them. Slowly a pimple swells up to form a whitehead. Acne is one possible causative factor for appearance of pimples on nipples. These acne breakouts can take place at any time and age, though it is observed the most during puberty and around menses in adult females, and on any part of the body having hair follicles. When a hair follicle on your nipple gets clogged with dirt, oil and dead skin cells, acne might appear. While it is nothing to panic about, acne can leave a scar if left untreated. Blockage may occur due to excess of secretions or a plug formed by dead skin cells, dirt or tissue debris.
Acne on nipples may be of the following types:
Premenstrual acne around the nipples
Many adult women of reproductive age experience appearance of pimples on their nipples just before or during onset of menses. Friction acne might be the reason behind outbreak of these spots - the breasts expand right before a woman’s period and the undergarments may be too tight - and acne caused by elevated levels of progesterone in the woman’s body after ovulation and prior to menstruation.
Sports acne on the nipple
Sports acne, or acne mechanica, can be cause of appearance of pimples on nipple. In women, these type of spots most commonly appear when the undergarments are too tight. Sports acne can be triggered along with contact dermatitis, most often caused by elastic used in straps that hold undergarments in fixed position. People of African descent are most prone to friction-induced type of sports acne breakout, and people who have Japanese skin types have an increased likelihood of breaking out in pimples along with allergic reaction to elastic.
Acne conglobata on the nipples
Acne conglobata is a particularly persistent form of acne in which pimples burrow through the skin to create “super pimples” on the nipples, back, and face. This type of acne always requires medical attention, although no special care is needed for acne conglobata on the nipples that is not also required for acne conglobata anywhere else on the body.
Areola helps in holding the nipple and Montgomery glands ooze some lubricating agent for evening out the moisture level during breast feeding. Number of Montgomery glands differs with age as it is less in number in case of children but after puberty the number is increased. Mostly, number of the Montgomery glands is between 5 and 20 (3).
Another causative factor behind pimple-like bumps on the nipples is Montgomery glands. According to Breast Notes, these bumps don't increase in size and look like goose bumps around or on the nipple. Montgomery tubercles secrete a fluid to protect the nipple.
They most commonly occur in women above 30 years of age. There are special sebaceous glands spread in the areola, the area around the nipple. These glands are full of sebum, a substance vital to keep the skin supple, soft and well lubricated. During pregnancy and breast feeding or lactation, puberty or phases of sexual stimulation, when there is a rise in hormonal levels, these glands swell up and become full of sebum till the rim.
They appear elevated, and swell like a bump. They are skin colored or brownish and are present in clusters. Such bumps may be confused as acne or spots. Montgomery tubercles are common and don’t exhibit any symptom.
No itching, tenderness or redness is apparent over them. Since these tubercles are regular and work to help the body carry out its function, they need no medical attention. Leave them on their own. Don’t pop or burst them or else they might get infected. Sometimes some white material might ooze out from these pimples when you press them and it is normal. Montgomery glands are very sensitive and they secrete their lubricating fluid with the ducts and globules present at areola. If Montgomery glands become blocked and do not drain their secretion into ducts, then pimples may also appear on nipple.
As in most parts of your body there are some hair follicles around your nipples, which may occasionally get blocked due to accrual of dirt, sebum and oil. At times, dead skin may also accumulate causing blockage of hair follicle and appearance of a pimple on nipple. Sometimes you may also suffer from an ingrown hair around your nipple (a condition similar to ingrown eyelashes or ingrown hair in nose). This usually affects men with hairy breast and may result in a painful, swollen bump, which needs to be removed by surgery.
As the breasts are an area of body that often gets sweaty and retains moisture, they are a favorable breeding ground for fungus such as yeast, which grows rapidly in damp and moist environments. A yeast infection mostly appears in the fold under the breasts and nipples as a red, itchy and inflamed rash.
Like groin and armpits, breasts become often sweaty and thus more susceptible to fungal infection like growth of yeast. This may lead to development of pimples on the nipple.
Milk blisters are often misdiagnosed as pimples on nipples. It is a bleb that appears as a tiny white spot on the top of the nipple and that looks like a small, milk-filled blister (5). The blister often seems to cover one nipple opening or pore. It can cause pain and tenderness and pain while breastfeeding or pumping milk. A sucking milk blister is often larger and is caused due to the baby taking only the nipple into its mouth during suckling, exerting too much pressure on the tip of the nipple. Milk blebs usually go away by themselves within a couple of days when the baby is latched on better. Painful and persistent blebs often need to be treated before they disappear.
Inadequate bathing habits, insufficient cleaning of the breast area, using dirty or used undergarments may provide a susceptible environment for germ attack and pimple development on nipple. If dirt is allowed to gather on the skin because of unhygienic lifestyle and habits you may develop pimples on nipples.
If you are prone to pimples on nipples you are advised to use cotton under garments as they help to soak the moisture and sweat and keep the affected skin dry. Cotton fabric also allows passage of fresh air. Nylon or other synthetic fabrics used for making under garments may be a fashionable choice but for health purposes cotton undergarments are always suitable and comfortable.
Most women do not know the exact required size of their undergarments and use wrong sized garments. Tight undergarments are a cause of many problems as they block the adequate blood circulation. They may also cause Montgomery glands obstruction by blocking the ducts in areola of the nipple which leads to formation of pimples on nipple.
Pimple growth is a common occurrence in breastfeeding mothers, as during this time Montgomery glands are very active. Over secretion of milk in the mammary glands also causes appearance of pimple like structures on the nipple. Sometimes the duct becomes blocked and clogged with dry milk.
Accidental trauma leading to injury or bruising of breast may also cause appearance of pimples on nipples.
The chances of pimples or bumps on nipple being a symptom of breast cancer are very rare but you are still advised to get your breast examined by your doctor.
This is particularly necessary when you also suffer from discharge (blood, pus, any other liquid) from your nipple (6).
Some other factors behind appearance of pimple on nipples are leading a sedentary lifestyle, undertaking a lot of stress and mental tension and digestive disorders.
If a pimple appears on your pimple, it is advisable to visit your doctor for a physical examination to rule out possibility of breast cancer.
A pimple may be actually just a Montgomery tubercle, as mentioned above. Many cases of breast cancer may manifest over the surface as a pimple that discharges fluid, that is painless and without any other sign.
So, a complete medical physical exam is important. Once you’re certain it is a pimple, you may start treating it. The most important thing to remember is that never burst, pop or squeeze a pimple on nipple. This action can possibly infect it and aggravate the situation. Infection from an infected pimple on nipple might spread to the inner breast tissue, resulting in abscess formation there.
Finding out the underlying cause of pimple formation is vital for proper treatment of pimple in the nipple.
The following measures help to remove and prevent appearance of bumps on nipples.
Use a soap featuring cucumber and salicylic acid as its core ingredients. Cucumber and salicylic acid act as drying agents who prevent clogging of oil on hair follicles or pores. Be cautious though to not rub the area harshly as it may result in excessive loss of body oil. By gently scrubbing it, the dead cells are removed from the affected area while bathing. Exfoliation will also help cure the acne efficiently.
Individuals, who eat more fresh vegetables and fruits and cut down their milk and sugar consumption, get lesser acne automatically. Eating five, six walnuts daily will help prevent skin inflammation as it contains anti-inflammatory agents like omega-3 fatty acids. Remember that omega-3 fatty acids are found in fish, such as herring, salmon and sardine, flaxseeds and leafy green veggies and it is better to use these healthy foods raw wherever possible as oxygen harms the acids.
Water helps get rid of the toxins in body and boosts overall skin health. Recommended intake of water ranges from 2.2 liters to 3 liters (for females and males respectively). Besides water intake, significant reduction of sugar will help in prevention of pimple formation. Sugar causes production of more insulin, which in turn activates pimple producing hormones.
This healthy beverage is rich in antioxidants, which help fight harmful free radicals in the body.
Free radicals cause a lot of harm to body cells and speed up the aging process. So never skimp on drinking sugar free green tea as a healthy alternative to drinks like smoothies, sodas and sweet juices if you want to get rid of pimples on nipple.
Aloe Vera is an extremely effective anti inflammatory and soothing agent which makes it valuable in fighting acne problems. Its therapeutic effect is due to presence of lectins, anthraquinones and polysaccharides. Take some fresh Aloe Vera leaves and extract the gel out of the skin. Apply the gel on the pimples immediately after cutting it.
Fuller’s earth works wonders on acne-prone or oily skin. It dries up excess oil from the skin and unblocks the pores from clogging. But it never over-dries the skin. Simply prepare its paste by mixing fuller’s earth, sandalwood and rosewater in equal quantity and apply on the affected nipple as a pack. Wash off after fifteen minutes using warm, clean water and rejuvenate your skin.
Take one tablespoon of radish seeds, one tablespoon of milk and one tablespoon honey and blend these ingredients properly to prepare a smooth paste. Apply a thick layer on the pimples on nipples and allow it to work its effect for two hours. Wash it off with cool water and then moisturize the surface. This mixture has been used as a remedy for pimples since a long time and it has proved to be very effective. The paste can also preserved up to six days under refrigeration by storing it in an airtight container.
Blend one tablespoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice with a tablespoon of cinnamon powder and churn the mixture properly.
Apply a thin layer of this mixture on affected nipple. Allow mixture to dry for an hour before washing it off with cool water. This mixture can be used daily, but take care in case it causes irritation to your skin.
It is a common home remedy for treating pimples on skin. The toothpaste dries up the acne which is caused by over active oil glands. Apply a thin layer of toothpaste on the pimple on nipple using a soft brush and allow it to dry for about half an hour. Wash it off gently with cool water and repeat the steps daily. Be careful in case it leads to irritation.
Take a cotton ball or Q-tip and soak it in tea tree oil. Dab the oil with the soaked cotton on the pimple on nipple and it will help to get rid of the acne effectively.
Garlic contains antibiotics, which abolish acne causing bacteria. Peel a garlic clove. Crush the peeled clove and place it on the pimple on nipple. It will heal the acne quite fast. Instead of using crushed garlic, you can also squeeze the garlic juice out and apply it on your skin.
Pimples developed due to some yeast infection in the skin folds can be treated by regular cleaning and applying ginger juice to the pimple several times a day.
Prepare an aspirin paste. Aspirin contains salicylic acid, which dries up zits and decreases inflammation caused by acne. This makes it the perfect material for treating pimple on nipple.
Crush 2 aspirin tablets and mix with one tablespoon of water and one teaspoon of honey. Apply to the affected area on pimple, and allow it to dry for ten minutes. Wash off with cool water.
Apply masks made of charcoal or mud or try using mask that contains mandelic acid.
Rub mud or charcoal mask on your pimples twice every week and then wash it off. A mask will cleanse the area and clear up your pores.
Mandelic acid masks should be usually applied ten to twenty minutes before taking a bath. Then, you should rinse the mask off with some clinically formulated acne wash.
Prepare a salt soak. Mix a liter of water with a cup of sea bath salt in a bathroom sink or large bowl.
Dip a soft towel or washcloth into this salt solution and apply to the nipple area. Squeeze the washcloth out and wash your affected area. Allow it to dry for about two minutes. Reapply the salt solution. Dip the washcloth in the salt solution and soak the cloth again, without wringing the cloth too strongly. Apply the saturated cloth onto your nipple gently. Repeat these steps five times and wring out the solution. Make a non oily moisturizer that prevents acne break outs and soothes the affected area. Wait for two to three hours after using the salt solution before putting on the moisturizer. Mix two tablespoons of buttermilk and 1 cup of sour cream into a small bowl and stir. Apply to your pimples and remove the excess mixture gently with a tissue.
For pimples that don’t go away, apply calamine lotion to the nipple with a cotton ball. You can leave calamine lotion on the pimples for entire day or apply before going to bed at night. The calamine lotion dries up excess oil and sebum.
Concoct an oral remedy to clear away pimples from nipples.
Warm two cups of hot water with one tablespoon of honey and two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar. Drink this remedy everyday to prevent appearance of pimples on nipples.
Although all the above-mentioned treatments help treat pimples on nipple quite easily, but it is always better to prevent break out of acne on nipples by taking proper health and hygiene care like daily shower, following a healthy diet, drinking plenty of water etc. Drinking antioxidant rich green tree also helps remove pimples. Avoid drinking fizzy, sweet beverages and adopt an exercise regimen. Whenever you come return from outside, take a shower to remove dirt and sweat, which will otherwise block the skin pores.
Pimples appear again and again if the infected material inside them touches the adjacent area, imparting infection to it. They also recur due to unhealthy eating habits or weakness of immune system.
Other precautions are as follows:
The best way to prevent pimples on nipple is to keep the skin of nipple clean and dry. Avoid wearing tight and synthetic materials that may irritate your skin, change out of swim wear and gym clothing quickly, shower with antibacterial soap after a long day or after a visit to the gym, avoid oily and heavily perfumed products on the skin of the breast and dry properly after a bath should help in preventing pimples. Select undergarments made of cotton or linen or any another breathable fabric, avoid lengthy hot water baths and perfumed bubbles. Exfoliate the skin gently but consistently. Follow a healthy diet with less intake of sugar and dairy products. Drink lots of water.
Pimples caused due to acne or Montgomery tubercles usually disappear after a short while. Ointments are required for treating pimples caused due to yeast infection and more stubborn forms of acne. If you are concerned about breast cancer, visit your doctor to get a thorough breast examination done.
|Written by:||Michal Vilímovský (EN)|
|Education:||Medical student, 3rd Faculty of Medicine, Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic|
See numbered references within the article.
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|Published:||June 3, 2016 7:53 AM|
|Next scheduled update:||June 3, 2018 7:53 AM|