I have small bumps on my nipples and wonder what they are. Is it normal to get pimple-like bumps on my breast areola? Depending what causes them, they can be itchy, inflamed look red or swollen. Find out the possible causes or problems in females or males. Afterward, discuss with your personal physician in order to get an exact answer to your problem.
What are the bumps on the nipples? – Causes
My nipple has little itchy pinhead size bumps. Could this be a normal change in breasts or an indication of breast cancer or another problem? Let us look at the causes:
Montgomery tubercles round bumps
What do these pimple-like bumps on my nipples signify? Are they normal? Montgomery tubercles are visible portions of the Montgomery glands found in the breast areolar area or the nipples. These glands are normal. They can be visibly present around areola and nipples in males or part of female breasts. However, they are not typically pimples.
Montgomery glands (also known as areolar glands) account for the bump-like appearance of the areolar area. The main function of these glands is to release a lipoid fluid that lubricates the nipples more so during breastfeeding.
Normally they take the color of your areola area. When stimulated, exposed to the cold environment or sexually aroused they slightly enlarge and become prominent (esp. when pregnant). Sometimes they turn a little red or pink depending on your general body complexion. However, they are not a predisposition or typical sign of pregnancy. Although sometimes people link these bumps to first signs of pregnancy.
According to Check Pregnancy, the appearance of Montgomery tubercles on the nipples is also caused by a hormonal imbalance, physical changes or stress.
If the bumpy areola area becomes more prominent (i.e. swollen Montgomery glands), or it shows pus-like discharge, see your clinical doctor or health physician urgently.
Blocked nipple pores (white, pink or yellow spot)
Secondly, a normal nipple pore should be open always. Sometimes the pres could be blocked. Doctors think the blockage is caused by either an overgrowth of skin or thickening of milk in the nipple pores.
According to Australian Breastfeeding Association, blocked duct at the nipple tip sometimes is associated with mastitis.
Symptoms and signs
- Pain in nipple especially while breastfeeding
- Red, inflamed skin around the white spot
- Presence of hard breast tissue toward the inner nipple pore
This problem can resolve on its own during breastfeeding. Sometimes soaking them in warm water will help in softening the spot in order to release milk. Talk to a specialist if these remedies don’t work to resolve and open up the pore.
Blockage of the nipple pores could recur in some individuals. However, this is not a serious complication of the breast.
Sub-areolar breast abscess
Subareolar abscess is an infection of the Montgomery gland or duct underneath skin around the areola. This infection mostly occurs among lactating or breastfeeding female humans who are younger.
When the glands or ducts become blocked, these abscesses can develop easily as an infection is bound to occur. In most cases, bacteria cause infections of the subareolar glands.
Females experience pain immediately after an infection. This would be accompanied by swelling or lump under the skin around or just beneath the area. If there is a severe infection, a discharge is noticeable. Sometimes symptoms would alleviate if an infection is not controlled or treated.
NOTE: Abscesses are not symptoms of having breast cancer such as IBC – inflammatory breast cancer.
Thrush infections cause red, pimple-like bumps on or around the nipples. Common in breastfeeding mothers this infection is characterized by swollen, red, and sometimes flaking areola. It may also cause discomfort when mothers breastfeed their babies.
Epidermal inclusion cyst – EICs (rare)
An epidermal inclusion cyst or EICs are the benign, painless keratinous cysts that arise from “sequestered epidermal cells in the dermis, either congenitally or from traumatic implantation.” [www.ijdvl.com]
Common areas found in human beings include the fingers, toes palms and foot soles. EICs are white dome-shaped and soft tissue, which occur during infancy or early childhood. If its occurrence comes later, they could be caused by trauma and this is rare.
They are cystic in nature but cause no discomfort when they occur on breast nipples. The IJDVL clinical findings and report indicate a cystic structure containing soft foul-smelling cheesy material.
Other causes of pimple-like bumps
- Hidradenitis Suppurativa which can lead to severe boil-like lumps around the breasts
- Pimples on nipples
- Premenstrual acne bumps
- Nipple piercing
Small white bumps on nipples & in areola area
Why do I have these small or little bumps on the tip or around nipple? Little bumps around areola and nipples are not only an indication of blocked pores. They can be due to the following reasons:
- Whiteheads on areola or “white pimples” especially during pregnancy
- Milk blister caused by blockage of the nipple pores
- little white bumps on areola
- small white bumps on areola
Red bumps on areola
Do you have red bumps on the areola? When irritated or inflamed the skin around the areola and nipple tips will tend to become red due to the sensitivity in the area.
If you have inflamed pimples on the breasts or irritated Montgomery tubercles, they may turn red. Men and women alike who are used to tight clothing (bras, gym kits, etc.) will more likely cause pimples get inflamed. Moreover, if they hurt or cause too much pain seek medication because these could be signs of infection.
Sore nipple and areola bumps
It is not normal to get sore bumps on your nipples. However, soreness could be a result of the following.
- Prolonged workouts without a sports bra
- Poorly fitting bras
- Poor or synthetic bra fabrics
- Rash guards
- Friction from running
- Exercising with injured nipples or breasts or after a surgical operation, etc.
Keep in mind that whatever problem you are suffering from (nipple pimples, EICs, abscesses or infections) soreness will result in pain.
What causes itchy nipples with bumps? Itching can be brought about certain factors. Whether the itching occurs in absence of the bumps, these are probably the reasons for the itchiness.
Among the females, one of the common reasons is a change in shower gel and detergents used in cleaning or ill-fitting bras (irritant contact dermatitis) or eczema.
However, there are minimal to zero chances that the bumps in areola or nipples are a sign of cancer. Some rare forms of cancer such as Paget disease of the breast are symptomatic of itchy and reddened nipples or areola. Although in Paget disease, the nipples would typically appear flattened as opposed to bumpy.
Could the bumps be due to pimples?
Can you get a pimple on your areola? It may sound uncommon to get a pimple formed around the areola but it is possible to get them even on your nipples.
Pimples on nipples will hurt like pimples on nose or lips. In general, they can be a problem for both males and females regardless of race. They would break out at puberty, during pregnancy or under certain conditions of the internal body.
Treatment, removal, and home remedies
Is it necessary to get treatments for bumps on the nipples or areola? Unless they won’t clear on their own or cause pain, itch, get inflamed, show signs of infections or look extremely unattractive there is no need to worry about bumps on your nipples.
Nevertheless, it is important to know when to go for treatment or removal of bumps on or around the nipples. Take note that for some breast problems to be cured a diagnosis is mandatory.
Treatment of pimples
Treat the pimples using the right cleaning procedures or treatment products. Use the right concentration of salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide solutions.
Getting rid of pimples during pregnancy is not easy. Therefore, it is also important to go for regular checkup in order to update your hormonal activity in the body. Change your feeding and fashion lifestyle to fit your current health status – for instance during pregnancy. Overall, avoid relying on processed foods and dairy foods.
CAUTION: Breastfeeding mothers with breast pimples or abscesses or swollen bumps on breasts should seek medical advice before deciding to treat themselves.
Antibiotic and antifungal medication
Your doctor will prescribe antibiotic medicines to cure bacterial or fungal (thrush) infections after a proper diagnosis.
This is another treatment for the sub-areolar breast abscesses, enlarged or infected Montgomery glands.
In some situations, your doctor may perform an excision in order to drain out, remove pus or the cystic bumps if medications fail.
Managing these bumps
If your breast problem cause pain, inflammation or discomfort consider helping yourself with natural remedies to relieving pain, inflammation that leads to the swelling. Ask your physician the kind of home remedies that will help you manage your nipple problem without freaking you out.
Care for breasts and measures to observe include
- Regular washing with a mild cleanser is fundamental to prevent recurring infections
- Avoid a lot of sugary foods
- Avoid breastfeeding your infant if you are diagnosed with thrush until the infection clears
- Care after nipple piercing
- Don’t smoke during pregnancy or while breastfeeding
- Avoid scratching or squeezing bumps because they look pimple-like or cause discomfort
- While pregnant ask for proper clothing (including bras) at your maternity services
- Go for diagnosis and regular clinical examination if you think and suspect anything
If the bumps on your breasts around nipples appear abnormal, report it to any cancer authority for medical intervention or action. Breast problems involving mastitis, fibroids, tumor or breast cancers should be subject to professional authorized care particularly when discovered at the right time.