Nipple Pain: Symptoms, Causes, Treatments and When to Visit the Doctor

We are talking about a fairly common situation, which can indicate hormonal changes or allergies.

There are many causes of nipple pain, some as simple as an allergy to laundry detergent or an ill-fitting bra.

Nipple pain is also joint in women who are menstruating, pregnant or breastfeeding.

There are more severe causes of nipple pain, such as infections and cancer, so it is essential to see a doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment.


As a symptom, nipple pain varies from person to person. Some may feel that their nipples are sore and tender, while others feel sharp pain or pain accompanied by itchiness.

Causes of pain in the nipple

Some of the possible causes of nipple pain are:


The nipples can become painful due to friction against clothing, especially during sports activities. Friction is the most common reason why nipples are sore.


Friction can occur if the nipples rub against an ill-fitting shirt or bra during sports activities, such as running, surfing, or playing basketball. The conflict in the nipple can often cause pain and throbbing pain.

The skin can also become dry or cracked. Additionally, more extended periods of exercise also mean prolonged periods of friction.

People who are sensitive to friction may take additional precautions, such as wearing surgical tape on the nipples during exercise.


Nipples that friction or an allergic reaction has already injured, cracked, or bleeding is at increased risk of infection. Breastfeeding can also increase the risk of disease.

It is possible to get a yeast infection of the nipples, which is caused by Candida albicans.

This can result from damage to the surrounding tissue, recent use of antibiotics, or when a person has a history of yeast infections.

A yeast infection, also known as thrush, on the nipples often feels like a burning, shooting pain that doesn’t go away by reducing sources of friction.

The nipples may be bright pink, and the areola may be reddish or scaly. Many breastfeeding women describe yeast infection as a burning, sharp pain immediately after breastfeeding.

Signs of infection can also appear in your baby. Mastitis is possible during pregnancy if milk becomes trapped in one of the milk ducts. Bacteria can start to grow in the duct and spread.

This type of infection can cause:

  • Swelling.
  • Redness
  • Pain in the breast and nipple.

Mastitis needs to be treated with antibiotics. If left untreated, an abscess can form. Anyone experiencing the following symptoms, as well as nipple and breast pain, should see a doctor:

  • Fever or chills
  • Breast feeling hot to the touch.
  • Redness of the skin on the breast and nipple.
  • Irregular swelling of the breasts.

Allergy or atopic dermatitis

Pain and irritation accompanied by scales, crusts, or blisters on the skin can signify an allergic reaction or atopic dermatitis (eczema).

Various household products can irritate the nipples or trigger flare-ups of existing skin conditions, such as atopic dermatitis.

These include:

  • Body lotion.
  • Laundry detergent
  • Soap.
  • Shaving cream.
  • Fabric softener.
  • Perfume.
  • Screens.

Other signs of an allergic reaction include red or cracked skin around the nipple and areola and persistent itching. In some cases, a rash can occur.

A topical anti-inflammatory cream can treat minor cases, but a person should speak to a doctor if the rash or redness increases, spreads, and does not respond to over-the-counter treatment.

Sexual contact

Sexual activity can be another cause of nipple pain. Body friction or sexual activity involving the nipples can cause pain.

This pain is usually temporary and is often treated simply by giving the nipples time to heal.

Using moisturizers or nipple shields can help minimize friction and prevent symptoms from worsening.

Hormonal changes

The regular hormonal changes in a woman’s monthly cycle can also trigger sore nipples and nipples.

These symptoms are usually felt in the days just before your period starts when increases in estrogen and progesterone levels draw more fluid into your breasts and make them feel bloated.

The pain associated with hormonal changes usually goes away when the period begins. If this pain continues for more than a few days, a woman may want to talk to her doctor.

Cancer and Paget’s disease

Some nipple pain and other symptoms can be signs of problems such as cancer, although tumors do not usually cause pain. Nipple pain caused by cancer often affects only one breast and one nipple.

Paget’s disease is a rare type of cancer that involves the nipple and commonly occurs along with tumors in the same breast. People with Paget’s disease and breast cancer may experience other symptoms, such as:

  • A flattened or inverted nipple.
  • Yellowish or bloody discharge from the nipple.
  • Itching or tingling sensations.
  • Reddish, scaly, crusty, or scaly skin around the nipple and areola.

Paget’s disease and breast cancer are diagnosed by inspecting the affected cells. While Paget’s disease is rare, anyone unsure of their symptoms should see a doctor.

Nipple pain during pregnancy

Nipple pain is also joint during pregnancy or breastfeeding. The breasts can become enlarged and sore. The nipples and areola can be dark and painful, and small bumps can appear around the nipples.

Well-fitting support bras can help reduce friction and relieve pain. Some pregnant women find wearing a supportive sleep bra at night helpful.

Sleep bras are also helpful in reducing pain in the nipple and breasts after the baby is born. Cooling gel packs like these can also soothe swollen or painful nipples caused by breastfeeding.


Breastfeeding mothers may experience nipple pain due to the baby’s sucking technique. Breastfeeding is a common cause of sore nipples. This is mainly due to the baby’s latching technique.

If the baby does not have enough nipples in his mouth, the nipple will be against the gum and hard palate. Babies should be latched deep on the chest with the nipple at the back of the throat.

If a mother uses a breast pump, this can also cause nipple pain. The pain may be from too much suction or wearing a nipple shield that doesn’t fit properly.

Adjusting your breast pump to a more comfortable fit and purchasing properly fitting nipple shields can help reduce discomfort.

A baby with teeth starting to appear is another potential cause of nipple pain, as they can change the way they latch on and even bite on the nipple.

A breastfeeding woman can encourage the baby to put more from the breast to the mouth so that they do not bite as quickly.

If a baby presses the nipple too hard between the gums and the roof of the mouth, it can restrict blood flow to the nipple.

This can result in vasospasm, which is painful and causes the nipple to turn white, then red, then purple in rapid succession.

Treating nipple pain

Nipple pain caused by friction can be prevented by wearing a well-fitting sports bra, soft synthetic fabrics, or protective products such as rash guards and nipple shields.

Some creams or ointments can also help reduce friction. Breastfeeding mothers are encouraged to seek the evaluation and care of a lactation consultant to help their baby establish good feeding habits.

Many health insurance plans cover this health need. If you want to buy nipple creams, there is an excellent selection online with thousands of customer reviews.

Nipple pain caused by hormonal changes in menstruation or pregnancy can respond well to pain relievers, such as ibuprofen (Advil) or acetaminophen (Tylenol).

Breast cancer is often treated with surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. Treatment of minor cases of Paget’s disease usually involves removing the nipple and using radiation therapy on the affected breast.

Some cases may require the removal of all breast tissue.

When to see a doctor

In most cases, nipple pain is simple and will go away once the cause is treated.

Anyone experiencing persistent symptoms should see their doctor discuss the correct diagnosis and treatment.