What It Means When Your Nipples Hurt And What To Do About It

Nipples have a lot of sensitivity, and sometimes they may hurt due to various reasons. Here is an insight into what it may mean when you experience nipple pain.

What It Means When Your Nipples Hurt And What To Do About It


  1.  What It Means When Your Nipples Hurt and What to Do About It
  2. 1.Friction
  3. 2.Menstrual Cycles
  4. 3.Your Nipples Hurt may Mean That You Are Pregnant
  5. 4.Allergies
  6. 5.Breast Feeding
  7. 6.Mastitis
  8. 7.Inflammation of the Breasts
  9. 8.Vasospasm
  10. 9.Breast Cancer
  11. 10.Paget’s Disease
  12. 11.Raynaud’s Syndrome
  13. 12.Abscess in the Breast
  14. 13.Nipple Thrush
  15. 14.Eczema
  16. 15.Nipple Piercing
  17. What to Do When Nipples Hurt

 What It Means When Your Nipples Hurt and What to Do About It

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Have you ever thought about your nipples? Most people, whether male or female, do not consider the health of their nipples. Whenever they get an itch or pain, they just brush it off. Nipples in both males and females are parts of the body that are responsible for sending arousal signals to the brain just like the vagina, penis, cervix, and clitoris. One thing about the nipples you should know, whether you are male or female, is that they tell a lot about your health. Nipples can tell the changes taking place in the breasts due to pregnancy, hormones, or even infections. When the left, right, or both nipples start to hurt or be sore, that is when most people start to pay attention to nipples. Nipples that hurt or are sore does not necessarily mean that you are sick. Nipples that hurt or are sore can be caused by a wide variety of reasons. Here are the most common reasons why you might find that your nipples hurt or are sore.



Friction is one of the most common reasons why your nipples could hurt. It is also known as jogger’s nipple. It means that your nipples are subjected to friction and hurt when you do activities like running, jogging, or any activities associated with sports. Friction can be caused when you put on a bra that does not fit well, a bra that has hard material, or a bra that is made of synthetic material that can cause irritation on your nipples. When you wear a bra that is too big when exercising, your breasts will bounce around in the bra causing friction between your nipples and the bra material. Constant friction on your nipples can cause them to become irritated, bleed, and even become dry. You can prevent your nipples from hurting because of friction by wearing clothing or sports clothing that is made from materials that are natural, use nipple shields, or put surgical tape on your nipples when you are exercising.

2.Menstrual Cycles


Menstrual cycles, or periods, can be the cause of breasts or nipples that hurt. This means that you should not be worried. Hormones tend to fluctuate during your period and this can cause your breasts or nipples to hurt before you get your period. Painful or tender nipples are one of the symptoms related to your menstrual cycle or periods. During your period, your breasts and nipples will hurt and be more sensitive than normal to touch. Your nipples will hurt for only a few days. If you happen to notice any unusual discharge during this time, make sure to consult a doctor. To ensure that your nipples do not hurt during your period, you can reduce your intake of sodium. Sodium tends to retain water in the body and this can make your nipples hurt even more.

3.Your Nipples Hurt may Mean That You Are Pregnant

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Being pregnant is another reason that could cause your nipples to hurt. When you become pregnant, your breasts, either the left or the right one, become sensitive to touch. This means that your nipples also become sensitive and can hurt during the course of the pregnancy. During pregnancy, hormonal changes take place and can make your breasts to become very sensitive and this means your nipples will be most affected. Other changes that happen to your breasts during pregnancy can be that the area around your nipples becomes darker, small bumps can form around your nipples and your nipples may become large and stick out more. Cooling gel packs and well fitting bras can help to reduce or prevent the nipples from getting hurt or being sensitive to touch.


You should know that nipples are one of the most sensitive parts of the body. This means that it is easy for them to have a bad reaction when they become exposed to certain chemicals. Nipples that hurt or are irritated and are accompanied by crusty, flaky, or blistering skin are signs that you are having an allergic reaction. There is a wide range of household products that can cause your nipples to hurt and trigger allergic reactions. Some of those products can be soap, body lotion, shaving cream, perfume, laundry detergent, fabric softener, and certain fabrics. Other signs that you might notice other than nipples that hurt is skin that is red or chapped around the nipple or areola and constant itchiness. You can experience this on either the left or right breast or both of them. There are some cases where a rash can occur. An anti-inflammatory cream can be used to take care of minor cases. However, if a rash spreads or increases, you should consult a doctor.

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5.Breast Feeding


Breastfeeding is a common cause of nipples that hurt in women who have infants. This is mostly caused by the latching technique of the baby during breastfeeding. This means that if a baby does not get enough of the breast in its mouth, the nipple will be positioned against the gum and hard palate and this can cause the nipples to hurt. For mothers who love to use a breast pump, this can be another means of causing nipples to hurt. Too much suction or using a nipple shield that does not fit properly can cause your nipples to hurt. You can prevent your nipples from hurting by getting nipple shields that fit and by setting your breast pump to a suction that is less irritating.

An infant who is starting to teeth can also cause the nipple to hurt. This means that the infant can change how they latch on a breast or bite the nipple, which makes them hurt. If you happen to be breastfeeding an infant who is teething, you can encourage him or her to take more of the breast in the mouth to prevent them from biting down on the nipples.

Nipple infections during breastfeeding can cause nipples to hurt and are very common. Infections like candidiasis or bacterial infections can cause more problems to the nipples other than them hurting. This means that the breasts or nipples can itch, become red, or have burning twinges. Other complications that can cause nipples or breasts to hurt during breastfeeding are inflammations or nipple ducts that are plugged.



Mastitis can make the breasts and nipples to hurt and become tender and red because of the breast tissue becoming infected. Mastitis normally affects women who are breastfeeding. It can occur on either the left, right or both breasts. Mastitis is caused by milk becoming trapped in the milk duct and this causes bacteria to grow in the duct and to spread in the breast. This can make the breast and nipple to hurt, appear swollen, become sore, and red. Mastitis is not hard to treat you just need to have antibiotics prescribed to you. If mastitis is not treated, an abscess will form. If you happen to have the following symptoms and your breasts and nipples hurt, you should consult a doctor. The symptoms are fever, redness on the nipple and breast, breast feeling warm to the touch, and irregular swelling of the breast.

7.Inflammation of the Breasts


Inflammation of the breasts that may or may not be caused by infection can cause the nipples to become tender and even hurt. Mastitis, infections, or an abscess can cause inflammation of the breasts. Depending on what is causing the inflammation, the nipple can swell, have lesions, or produce a discharge that causes the nipple to hurt.


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Nipple vasospasm is a pain that is caused when the blood vessels in the breast contract. This causes the nipple to hurt for a few minutes or many hours. Breastfeeding, cold temperatures or emotional stress causes vasospasm. The pain feels like needles in the nipple. If the pain happens to become chronic, you should seek the help of a doctor. Nipple vasospasm can be relieved using a warm compress.

9.Breast Cancer


In very rare cases, can you find that the signs of breast cancer are discharge and nipples that hurt. You should know that not all breast cancer lumps cause pain in the breast. However, it is important to have all lumps checked out and removed whether they hurt or not. If you happen to notice that there are rashes over the nipple, the shape of your nipple changes, or dimpling in your nipples, you should seek the medical advice of a doctor.

10.Paget’s Disease

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This is a very rare type of cancer that normally affects the nipples. It causes the nipples to have a burning pain that increases as the disease progresses. The early sign of Paget’s disease is very slight itching around the nipples. As the disease progresses, the itching becomes severe and the nipple can hurt when it is touched. Blood discharge can also be produced from the nipple. In case you have such signs, you should seek the help of a doctor before it becomes worse.

11.Raynaud’s Syndrome


This is something that mostly affects women who breastfeed. Raynaud’s syndrome is a type of autoimmune condition that causes blood vessels to become constricted in various parts of the body. Some of the parts that are affected and become numb are toes, fingers, lips, nose, and nipples. The affected part like the nipple becomes painful as it becomes warm and blood starts to flow in the nipple.

12.Abscess in the Breast


If one of the nipples hurts when it is touched, it could be because of abscess in the breast. This can be found in both men and women. The abscess can also be associated with heat and redness on the affected area and, on very rare occasions, fever is present.

13.Nipple Thrush

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Nipple thrush is normally caused by a candida infection. This can make the nipples hurt and be sensitive when breastfeeding. Dry and cracked nipples can make candida infections get into the nipples. The pain on the nipples can be excruciating and can last for hours. The infection can also affect your baby so it is important to have it checked out by a doctor.



Nipples that hurt, are sore, or cracked could be a sign of nipple eczema. Eczema can cause you to have red rashes that are itchy, sore, and even get blisters. In order to prevent your breasts from getting eczema that makes your nipples hurt, you should find out what causes irritation on your breasts. You can also stay away from harsh soaps and ensure that your nipples are moisturized properly.

15.Nipple Piercing

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Nipple piercing can cause your nipples to hurt for a few days after they are pierced. However, bacterial wounds in the nipple piercing can make the nipples to become swollen, hurt and release pus. Nipple piercing can also bring about other complications like breast abscesses that make nipples hurt and are hard to treat. There are times that the breast abscesses take up to seven years after the piercing to appear. Another reason why nipple piercing can make your left or right nipples hurt is if the jewelry tears, which happens a lot.

What to Do When Nipples Hurt


Nipple pain that is caused by friction can be avoided by wearing a sports bra that fits properly and is made of synthetic fabrics. You can also use nipple shields, rash guards, and ointments or creams. Nipple pain due to hormonal changes in periods and pregnancy can be eased with pain relievers like acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Nipple pain due to breast cancer is treated by chemotherapy, radiation, or surgery. Paget’s disease that causes nipple pain can be treated by radiation or removal of the affected nipple. Other things that you can use on painful nipples are cold or warm compress, aloe vera, coconut oil, apple cider vinegar, and tea tree oil. When your nipples do not stop hurting or you notice some changes on them, be sure to consult a doctor immediately.

There are times when painful nipples can be caused by small issues like periods, pregnancy, or allergies. However, there are instances when it is a serious issue like an infection or Paget’s disease. Despite the reason, it is important to ensure that every part of your body, even the nipples, are healthy. Never overlook something even as small as a pimple. Remember that prevention is better than cure.


Dagmar Thomson