Pimples can appear on the nipples just as in any other area of the body. They are formed due to the clogging of a skin pore or gland by secretions like pus, sebum or sweat, dead cells, or by external agents like dust, dirt, or microbes. The gland or pore swells and forms a pimple.
Pimples on the nipples tend to heal by themselves and are a minor problem. However, it is better to identify the underlying cause and treat it, especially when they last for several days.
Read this article to find the causes and the treatments of pimples on nipples.
Are pimples on the nipples normal?
Sometimes there are very small bumps on the nipple area that do not pain, do not itch, and look like they have always been there. These are not pimples. These are the Montgomery ducts, and yes, they are perfectly normal.
However, there can be actual pimples on the nipple caused by a variety of reasons. Read on to find out about them and their corresponding treatment.
Pimples on the nipples can be confused with the Montgomery tubercles of the areola. These are sebaceous glands found in the area around the nipple, also known as the areola.
They contain and secrete sebum to keep the skin moisturized, soft, and clean. The Montgomery tubercles are usually small, brown, or skin colored.
They appear in clusters and can swell up due to hormonal changes like puberty, pregnancy, lactation, or sexual stimulation. They may raise and get the appearance of bumps or pimples on the nipple.
These tubercles are perfectly normal and necessary for the functioning of the breasts. They are not accompanied by itching, pain, redness, nor inflammation; and they do not require any treatment.
Actions like pinching or squeezing them to remove them can lead to infections.
The Montgomery glands can be swollen when clogged with pus, sebum, or dirt. This can make them look like acne pimples.
Can pimples occur on a man’s nipples?
Pimples can also appear on male nipples, but their reasons are less numerous due to the absence of potential causal factors like menstruation or breastfeeding.
Male breasts also have the same gland and ducts as females, but their number is much less.
Most of the times, the pimples on male nipples are caused by acne breakouts, and they are of the same type as the pimples that appear on the face or any other body part.
However, in rare cases, a pimple or hard, painless lump on a male breast can indicate breast cancer.
CAUSES OF PIMPLES ON THE NIPPLES
Pimples can appear in any part of the body, but when you see it on sensitive areas like the nipples, it might be worrisome.
When pimples appear on the nipples, it can be because of the following possible causes:
Pimples caused by acne can appear in absolutely any part of the body. They are caused by the clogging up of glands. While the nipples is not a common area, it isn’t impossible that acne zits occur on them too.
It can be triggered by the clogging of a hair follicle with dirt, oil, or dead skin cells. The breakout of acne in nipples is most observed during puberty and menstruation in women.
The types of acne that affect the nipples are:
Before the onset of menstruation, the progesterone levels in the body increase. This causes several reactions and acne can be one of them.
The hormonal changes also cause the swelling of the breasts, which might lead to friction with undergarments that become too tight during this period. The caused discomfort is manifested as pimples.
b. Sports acne:
It is also known as acne mechanica. It takes place solely due to the excessively tight fitting of the clothes worn during sport and fitness activities. Sports acne can also be triggered by contact dermatitis caused by the elastic material used in sports garments.
c. Acne conglobata:
This type of acne is persistent and severe. The associated pimples can be big and prominent, and they are found on the face, back, and nipples. Acne conglobata on any part of the body requires medical assistance.
ii. Clogged hair follicles:
Just like the hair follicles in other parts of the body, when a hair follicle around the nipple is clogged with dirt, sebum, or dead skin cells, a pimple can appear.
A pimple may also be caused by an ingrown hair. This type of nipple pimples is most commonly found in men with a large body hair density. These pimples can be associated with pain and swelling, and surgery might be required to remove them.
Pregnancy leads to numerous changes in the body including the development of the Montgomery tubercles. They help in preventing bacteria build up on the nipples by secreting oils. The growth of the Montgomery tubercles can make them look like pimples, and this is considered an early sign of pregnancy.
iv. Milk blisters:
This type of pimples can appear in breastfeeding mothers. They are caused by the baby due to an excessive suction pressure on the nipple tip. They are located on the nipple opening as a small, white spot.
It can cause tenderness and pain while breastfeeding but it usually heals by itself. If it persists for several days or is very painful, consults a doctor for treatment.
v. Milk overproduction:
During breastfeeding, the Montgomery glands are highly active. The excessive secretion of milk can lead to the clogging of the milk ducts and the appearance of pimples in the nipple area. They are also called as whiteheads or milk blebs.
vi. Fungal infections:
The breasts are covered most of the time with layers of cloth, and the sweat that is produced in this area can’t evaporate easily. Hence, the area becomes quite moist and suitable for the breeding of fungal microorganisms like yeast.
They are attracted to the moisture and remain there causing redness, itchiness, inflammation, and pimples.
vi. Poor hygiene:
The accumulation of dirt and germs on any part of the body, including the breast area, can lead to the formation of pimples and other manifestations. To avoid it, maintaining the habit of bathing regularly and using clean undergarments and clothes.
Sometimes skin reacts to certain types of fabrics and becomes red, inflamed, or itchy. Pimples may also appear. Choose soft and comfortable textiles like cotton over others to help in the removal of moisture caused by sweat.
viii. Wrong size:
Studies have shown that most of the women use undergarments of the wrong size. Wearing tight clothes can block the blood flow and obstruct the Montgomery glands leading to the formation of nipple pimples.
Sometimes, injuries or bruises on the breast can lead to the formation of pimples on the nipples.
Piercings made on the nipple can result in the development of breast abscess even after years from the piercing date. Pimples can appear anywhere near or on the nipple and are usually filled with pus.
xi. Paget’s nipple disease:
This disorder causes zits on anyone nipple, most commonly the right-side one. The pimples on the areola are red, and there are dry, flaky patches on the nipples that resemble ulcer spots.
xii. Allergies and other reactions:
Pimples can be caused due to allergic reactions or due to contact with chemicals from soaps and cleansers.
xiii. Breast cancer:
Mutant and carcinogenic cells often give the body structures a different and abnormal appearance. Although the formation of pimples is not considered a common symptom of breast cancer, it is a good idea to get a medical checkup to rule out the possibility.
This should be particularly followed when a pimple is associated with any liquid discharge from the nipples.
xiv. Other reasons:
Less common reasons of the onset of pimples on the nipples include mental stress, digestive disorders, emotional trauma, and a sedentary lifestyle. These factors can cause some strange manifestations on the body, and pimples on the nipples could be one of them.
The appearance of pimples on the nipples can be accompanied by other symptoms depending on the causal factor. These include:
- Pimples caused by acne can have pus accumulation and leave
- Milk blisters can lead to pain and yellowing of the pimple area.
- Infection of Montgomery gland is associated with white discharge.
- Breast cancer can manifest as a hard and painful bump in the nipple or breast that can be itchy and scaly.
- Hormonal changes and menstruation can also lead to hard lumps that look like pimples.
- Breast abscesses and nipple piercing are associated with the filling of pus, tenderness, and inflammation of bumps on the nipple.
- Hair follicles that are clogged can cause the persistence and recurrence of pimples and dark marks in the area. They may last for years and produce discomfort.
- Microbial infections could cause the discharge of blood or pus that is yellow or green colored, apart from swelling, and
- Blocked ducts and friction caused pimples can cause redness in the area.
- Reactions due to tight clothing, fabrics, and cleansers can cause inflammation and redness.
TREATMENT OF PIMPLES ON THE NIPPLES
According to the underlying cause, pimples on the nipples can be treated as follows:
a. Regular cleansing with a mild cleanser to get rid of germs and dirt.
b. Warm water compresses for removing the clogging in the Montgomery glands. This will soften the skin and help in removing the clogged milk or dead skin by a gentle rub.
c. Acne medications like chamomile or calendula creams, benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acids containing medications.
d. Hypoallergenic lanolin can prevent the pimple development after breastfeeding.
e. Topical antifungal and antimicrobial creams for the removal of fungal and other microbial infections. Antibiotic creams include
f. Usage of non-comedogenic products to prevent the further blockage of pores and hair follicles.
g. Reducing the intake of processed sugar and increasing the number of probiotics can prevent the formation of pimples.
h. Applying moist heat on the nipple before breastfeeding and wiping the area after it.
i. Calamine lotion can be applied on persistent pimples with the help of a cotton ball. Let it act for several hours or overnight to dry the excess sebum.
j. In case of breast cancer, the treatment options include surgery, radiotherapy, and hormonal therapy.
HOME REMEDIES TO GET RID OF PIMPLES ON THE NIPPLES
Most of the times, pimples on the nipples are not associated with an extreme illness, and they might even go by themselves. But sometimes they may need a little help to heal, which could be provided by these home remedies:
1. EPSOM SALT SOAK
This remedy is especially effective for breastfeeding women. Soaking the affected area in warm water with Epsom salt can clear the milk ducts. Do it four times a day.
2. CUCUMBER JUICE
Applying cucumber juice on the pimple thrice a day can reduce the bump and the inflammation. This is used particularly in cases of acne.
3. SALICYLIC ACID:
It is a drying agent that can prevent and remove the blockage of the hair follicles and pores. Rub your skin very gently with foam formed by soap that contains salicylic acid. This will heal and prevent pimples caused by acne and clogging of pores.
4. HEALTHY FOOD:
To keep the skin healthy consume more fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats like omega-3. Reduce the intake of milk products and refined sugars.
To boost the skin glow and keep it healthy, drink plenty of water throughout the day. Drinking at least 2 liters every day helps in removing toxins from the body and keeping the skin flawless.
6. GREEN TEA
The consumption of green tea reduces the free radicals of the body and the harm caused by them. It helps in maintaining the skin healthy and free from pimples and marks.
7. ALOE VERA
This plant is a popular anti-inflammatory agent that can soothe the skin and reduce redness and itchiness. Apply the gel directly extracted from fresh Aloe Vera leaves to get its maximum benefits.
8. FULLER’S EARTH
Apply a paste made of Fuller’s earth, rosewater, and sandalwood powder on the affected area and wash it gently with warm water after fifteen minutes. The mixture will help in drying and remove a pimple without drying or harm the skin.
9. RADDISH SEEDS
This mixture can remove pimples from any area of the body and it can also be stored in an airtight and refrigerated container up to six days.
To make it, measure a tablespoon of radish seeds, milk, and honey each. Blend them into a smooth paste and apply it on the nipples. Wash and moisturize the area after two hours.
10. TEA TREE OIL
The soothing properties of this plant extract can remove acne on any part of the body. Apply tea tree oil on the pimple with the help of a cotton ball.
11. GINGER JUICE:
Yeast and fungal infections can cause pimples. They can be treated maintaining a high hygiene and applying the ginger juice on the pimple twice a day.
12. APPLE CIDER VINEGAR:
Make a concoction with a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and a tablespoon of honey to enhance the taste. Drink it every day to heal and prevent pimples on any part of the body.
The nipples are a very sensitive area of the body that is often neglected until they manifest a strange sign. Maintaining a good hygiene, wearing comfortable clothes, consuming healthy foods and sufficient water are simple steps for the prevention of unwanted breakouts.