By Medicover Hospitals / 18 Jan 2021
A lot of things can cause itchy nipples. They are generally sensitive. They also stand out and can be irritated by friction, eczema, breastfeeding or pregnancy. Rarely, itchy nipples can be a sign of more serious disease. Even though your desire to scratch is great, the issue is usually easy to deal with. If you've been using over-the-counter products for a few weeks and the itching has not gone away, see your doctor.
- What is nipple itching?
- When to visit a Doctor?
- Home remedies
What is nipple itching?
Nipple itch is a common symptom of allergies, inflammation, or even physical irritation and is characterized by a tingling, irritation, or discomfort on the surface of the skin. It can occur in conditions that affect the nipple area itself or in association with more generalized conditions, such as hives or eczema.
Other common causes of itchy nipples include chemical irritants, such as soap and laundry detergent, dry skin, and side effects from medications. Contact dermatitis can also lead to itchy nipples. Depending on the cause, an itchy sensation may occur in one or both nipples, and redness, pain, swelling, or discharge from the affected nipples may accompany it.
Allergic reactions can cause an itchy sensation in both nipples and sometimes throughout the chest, especially if you have been exposed to poison ivy or similar plants. In rare cases, itchy nipples are a symptom of breast cancer. If you have Paget's disease of the breast, you may have an itchy nipple besides the pain, tears, and scabs. During pregnancy, swelling and discharge may accompany itchy nipples.
There are many causes, including the following:
Hormonal changes, breast expansion, and increased blood flow can cause a woman to itchy nipples during pregnancy. A woman may also experience sore nipples, tingling, tenderness, and breast heaviness.
- There are several causes of dermatitis of the nipple or areola. These include eczema and irritation or allergic dermatitis. Certain types of dermatitis can also cause eczema.
- Eczema is a common condition in women who are breastfeeding, especially those who have previously had atopic dermatitis.
- Eczema is a skin condition that can affect any part of the body, including the breast.
- Irritation due to friction from running, hard clothing, water, soaps, and some detergents can cause some types of eczema.
- Some forms of eczema result from an allergic response or contact with products such as unpurified lanolin, chamomile ointment, and perfumes.
- Signs of areola or nipple eczema may include:
- itching, burning, and pain
- lesions that ooze or leak fluid
- crusted or peeling skin or plaque formation
- Sometimes women can suffer from a fungal infection of the breast called breast yeast or thrush, which is usually caused by the fungus Candida albicans. However, thrush can develop from other unknown causes. It can occur while breastfeeding, in women with vaginal thrush, and while using antibiotics. Thrush can also damage the nipple itself.
- Although rare, men can get breast yeast. Signs of nipple yeast can include:
- breast or nipple pain usually described as a stabbing, shooting, or feeling of deep pain
- women may experience a burning sensation, often after breastfeeding
- nipple tenderness, burning, itching, or tingling
- pink nipple and areola
- dry and scaly areola
- a white rash
- cracked nipples that heal slowly
- While breastfeeding, an infant may develop thrush, showing symptoms such as a white layer in the mouth, a rash on the tongue, or a red diaper rash.
- Infants who develop thrush may need treatment at the same time as their mother.
Jogger nipple (rubbing):
- Also referred to as a runner's nipple, a jogger's nipple results from the irritation caused by clothing rubbing against the nipple during activities such as running, surfing, or weight lifting.
- Other activities that cause chafing in men and women can also cause jogger's nipple.
- People most at risk of developing jogger nipple are those who:
- wearing cotton shirts
- run without a bra
- performing activities during the winter months when the nipple is hard from the cold
- Signs of jogger's nipple include:
- skin irritation and redness
- sore and dry nipples
- nipple crack with or without bleeding
To diagnose your condition, your physician will ask you several questions related to itchy nipples, including:
- When did you first notice the itchy nipple?
- Is the itch located at the nipple or does it affect a larger area?
- Do you have other symptoms?
- What medications do you take?
Once your doctor finds the underlying cause of your vaginal itching, they will recommend treatment options. The specific course of treatment required depends on the particular condition that is causing the problem.
Mastitis is treated with antibiotics. Make sure you take the full course of treatment to prevent the infection from coming back. Other steps that can also help reduce symptoms of mastitis include:
- taking over-the-counter pain relievers
- drink lots of fluids
Paget's disease and breast cancer:
Paget's disease and breast cancer are treated with a variety of approaches. These include:
- surgical removal of all or part of the breast
- chemotherapy and radiation therapy both work to kill or shrink cancer cells
Generally, women can treat itchy nipples associated with pregnancy with:
- A lotion without chemicals like vitamin E, cocoa butter, or lanolin: Using additional petroleum jelly throughout the day can also help maintain skin hydration. Apply lotion or petroleum jelly to the nipples after showering, especially in the morning and evening.
- Mild, fragrance-free detergents: Using these types of products prevents harsh chemicals from reaching the skin.
- Appropriate bras: Wearing a well-fitting maternity bra that allows air circulation to breasts and is not too tight can help reduce itching.
Treatment for eczema of the nipple or areola includes:
- avoiding things that cause or worsen the reaction
- avoiding scratching as this can further worsen the condition and lead to infection
- keep skin hydrated with moisturizers
- using topical steroids and other prescription medications, as recommended
- using antihistamines, such as hydroxyzine, as directed
Treatment for breast or nipple thrush may include:
- using antifungal creams and oral medications
- avoiding nipple moisture by keeping the nipples dry
- it is recommended to change breast pads regularly throughout the day
- use hot, soapy water to wash clothes, towels, bras, nursing pads, and other clothing; if possible, air-dry these items outside
- sterilize all pumping equipment and pacifiers in boiling water for 5 minutes or as directed; ideally, replace these items once a week
Jogger nipple (rubbing):
Treatment of the jogger's pacifier and prevention methods may include:
- preventing further nipple irritation by stopping the activity that is causing the disease until the nipple is healed
- using antiseptic creams
- avoid the use of loose shirts, wear a soft seamless bra or sports bra, wear a compression or Shimmel vest, or wear a soft fabric shirt
- cover the nipples with a waterproof adhesive bandage before activity
- apply a topical barrier ointment, such as an anti-rubbing balm or petroleum jelly, before activity
When to visit a Doctor?
If your itchy breast or nipple does not go away after a few days, or if it seems to get worse, make an appointment with your doctor.
If you are breast-feeding and experience extreme pain or other symptoms of mastitis, see a doctor.
- You should see your doctor immediately if you experience:
- bloody, yellow, or brown drainage
- inverted nipple
- sore breasts
- skin changes that make your breast look like an orange peel
- thickened breast tissue
If your breast is itchy but doesn't have a rash, it is most likely due to a simple allergic reaction, dry skin, or breast growth. Fortunately, the itching caused by these causes should be easily treatable at home.
Topical creams and gels:
Consider applying a simple anti-itch cream or gel to your breasts. Over-the-counter (OTC) options usually include a numbing agent (local anesthetic) called pramoxine, which relieves the itchiness of the skin.
For allergic reactions or itching that seems to be coming from the skin on your breast, consider trying an over-the-counter antihistamine such as:
antihistamines work to reduce your body's reaction to an allergen and reduce itching and irritation.
- cetirizine (Zyrtec)
- diphenhydramine (Benadryl)
- fexofenadine (Allegra)
- loratadine (Claritin)
Prevention and hygiene:
If the itchy rash on your breast is caused by dry skin, better skin care habits could help relieve it considerably. It is also important to take good care of the skin on and under your breasts to avoid more serious conditions such as yeast infections in the area.
- Wash and dry thoroughly: Use a mild soap to clean your skin and be sure to dry the area under the breasts well to avoid retaining moisture.
- Hydrate: A fragrance-free moisturizer can help prevent itchy, dry skin on the breasts or any other area of your skin.
- Change your skincare products: If you use soaps, detergents, or other products that are strongly scented or contain sodium lauryl sulfate, they may dry out and irritate your breasts. Look for products aimed at sensitive skin.
Frequently Asked Questions:
A lot of things can cause itchy nipples. They are generally sensitive. They also stand out and can be irritated by friction, eczema, breastfeeding or pregnancy. Rarely, itchy nipples can be a sign of more serious disease.
Atopic dermatitis, also known as eczema, is the most common cause of itchy nipples. With this condition, itching is almost always present and can be severe. The itchiness can start before you can even see a rash. The rash may include small, oozing or crusty blisters.
If your breasts are itchy, it usually doesn't mean you have cancer. Most often, the itch is caused by another condition, such as dry skin. However, it is possible that persistent or intense itching is a sign of a rare type of breast cancer, such as inflammatory breast cancer or Paget's disease.
Breasts can get bigger for various reasons such as pregnancy, weight gain, or puberty. This growth can cause the skin around your breasts to stretch. This feeling of tightness and discomfort can lead to persistent itching on or between your breasts.
Yes, itchy nipples can be caused by pregnancy. Hormonal changes, breast expansion, and increased blood flow can cause a woman to itchy nipples during pregnancy. A woman may also experience sore nipples, tingling, tenderness, and breast heaviness.
Nipple Itiching - http://mjpsychiatry.org/index.php/mjp/article/view/493