People may not like to bring this up, but the issue of nipple pain is real and hard to discuss for some people. Nipples are one of the most sensitive parts of your body and it is not uncommon for them to sometimes feel sore or painful. The causes of it are usually benign like because of wearing an uncomfortable bra or due to hormonal changes during pregnancy. But that is not an excuse to take the symptoms lightly. In some cases, nipple pain can indicate comparatively serious health complications like breast infection or even cancer. On Breast Cancer Awareness Month (October), it’s important women to know about the reasons behind their nipple pain and in which cases, they need to consider medical attention.
The Channel 46 collaborated with Dr Swetha M.P, Consultant – Obstetrician & Gynaecologist, Motherhood Hospitals, to offer expert opinions about the possible causes and symptoms behind nipple pain, diagnostic procedure, and available treatment options, and advise you on when you should see a doctor.
7 Possible Causes Behind Nipple Pain
Let’s take a look at the most common causes behind nipple pain –
1. Due To Uncomfortable Clothes
It could be happening because of wearing an uncomfortable bra that is too tight or made of an uncomfortable material. Make sure to switch to something comfortable in such cases.
Some women experience pain in their nipples before their periods start due to the rise of hormones, oestrogen and progesterone. It can cause their breasts to feel larger and heavier, which results in painful nipples.
Pregnancy tends to affect various components of a woman’s body and bring changes to it. This includes enlargement of breasts and nipples, which causes nipple pain. They are also known to be one of the earliest signs of pregnancy.
Nipple pain comes along with breastfeeding. Women feel nipple pain when their baby first latches on to it. But if the baby is latching the right way the pain will disappear after a while.
5. Breast Infections
There are certain types of infections that occur in breastfeeding women that can cause serious nipple pain. Such infections include Mastitis, Thrush or skin conditions like dermatitis.
6. Breast Cancer
It is very unlikely that nipple pain will turn out to be breast cancer. But, if the nipple pain comes along with a lump in your breast, bloody discharge from your nipple, inverted nipple, or if there is a change in shape or size of one breast, you should immediately consider consulting a doctor.
7. Paget’s Disease
Paget’s Disease is a very rare type of cancer that affects only 1 to 4% of people with breast cancer. However, the chances of your nipple pain happening due to Paget’s Disease are extremely low.
7 Symptoms Of Nipple Pain
Individuals may experience pain in the following ways:
- Sharp pain in nipples
- Burning nipple pain
- Aching nipples
- Tingling feeling in nipples
- Sore nipples
- Tender nipples
- Throbbing nipple pain
Men also need to be cautious about their nipples; they can also get mastitis and even breast cancer. They are also more vulnerable to friction and injuries in that area.
Diagnosing & When To Consult A Doctor
1. Check Medical History & Perform Physical Exam
When you go for a diagnosis for your nipple pain, the doctor will ask about your medical history and will perform a physical exam. Traumatic causes of nipple pain will be ruled out first. Some causes behind pain in your nipples are easily determined. These causes are:
- Friction burns
- Hormonal changes
2. Recommend Medical Tests
The doctor might also have to do imaging or a biopsy to determine the cause behind your sore nipples, which are usually the most common tests recommended in such cases. Imaging tests can include mammograms or ultrasounds. Mammograms are one of the crucial tests that help in early detection of breast cancer.
Treatment Options For Nipple Pain
The treatment for your nipple pain heavily depends upon the cause of it. Most nipple pain is caused by uncomfortable clothing which gets treated by switching to something more comfortable. It will heal on its own as long as the activity that led to the irritation is corrected.
In severe cases like breast infection or cancer, serious medical attention is required for treatment. But these conditions are really rare and nipple pains are really common and nothing to be worried about in most cases.
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