Sore nipple

A sore nipple often occurs in women, but sometimes also in men. It is an unpleasant feeling, because nipples easily rub against clothing and therefore you feel the pain much better and more often. Sometimes a sore nipple is linked to the menstrual cycle or to a developmental phase such as puberty or pregnancy. But sometimes a sore nipple also means an underlying disease or condition.

Pain in the nipple

When we talked about nipple pain, we specifically meant the nipple and not the breast itself. The nipple is the raised middle part (bud) on the breast. In men, the nipple lies almost on the chest. Women suffer from a sore nipple more often than men. In general, this pain is also more common in women during childbearing years. Children and the elderly are significantly less likely to suffer from it.

Puberty and growth of the breasts and nipples

Under the influence of hormones, girls’ breasts will grow. The nipples first become somewhat larger and are then visibly pushed outwards as the breasts grow. Growing breasts hurt. When the nipples are rubbed, this can cause a very stabbing pain. Unfortunately, there is not much you can do about this: the pain disappears as soon as the breasts have grown.

Menstrual cycle

The menstrual cycle is influenced by hormones. You often notice changes in your body: the breasts feel tense, you have more cravings for sweets, for example, and you may suffer from pimples or pimples. The nipples may also feel painful. This often starts a few days before menstruation. The pain may be accompanied by a sensitivity where you do not want the nipples to be touched. When menstruation occurs, the pain will still be present, but after that the pain will decrease. If the pain persists, something else may be wrong.

Hair in the nipple

People with pets in particular are familiar with it: a dog hair can get stuck in the mounds. Sometimes you cannot see this hair, but you do feel a stabbing pain every time you brush the nipple with clothing. Take a good look at the nipple from different lighting angles. Sometimes you suddenly discover a hair sticking upright in the nipple. Pull it out with your nails or tweezers. The nipple may remain sensitive for several hours.


Pregnancy is also influenced by hormones. The nipple may be painful or tender and there may be a white discharge from the nipple. These symptoms become more common, especially towards the end of pregnancy. Although very annoying, it is also completely harmless. If you want to breastfeed, it is advisable to prepare the nipples for this by hardening them slightly. It rubs against clothing or a rough towel, but the nipples are a little more insensitive. This will make breastfeeding a little more pleasant later.

Inflamed nipple

An inflammation of the nipple or a mammary gland infection can often occur during breastfeeding. Sometimes there is pus formation from the nipple. You feel sick and may also have a fever. Inflammation is often easy to treat with antibiotics. When breastfeeding, the doctor will choose safe antibiotics. It is advisable to clean the nipple with lukewarm water after every feeding. It is better not to use soap. It is best for the baby to drink the breasts thoroughly or express milk. The nipples or areola can become inflamed in both men and women. There is pain, redness, tenderness and warmth of the nipple or areola. Sometimes a fever occurs. This is often caused by bacteria. The inflammation is treated with an antibiotic.

Breast cancer, Paget’s disease

Paget’s disease is a form of breast cancer that mainly affects the nipple. But ‘normal’ breast cancer can also be visible on the nipple. The nipple is flaky, red, different in shape or withdraws into the skin. A white or bloody discharge may occur. Nipple pain often only occurs at a later stage. Breast cancer is most common in women: on average, 1 in 9 women will develop breast cancer at some point in their lives. Breast cancer is much less common in men. Breast cancer can be treated very well in its early stages. The five-year survival is 80 percent and the ten-year survival is more than 67 percent. This will increase in the future due to improved treatment methods. It is important to go to a doctor early if you have any complaints. The sooner the treatment is administered, the better the chances of survival.

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