There are times in your life where your nipples may feel hard or sore. If you just had nipple piercings, then the answer to the question is obvious. In other cases, the cause of the soreness is not as clear. Sore nipples can be uncomfortable, and there are a number of medical conditions that can potentially cause this symptom.
Why Are My Nipples Hard and Sore?
The following medical conditions can cause your nipples to feel hard and sore. Some of these conditions require professional medical treatment, so make sure to talk to your doctor about any symptoms that you experience.
1. Allergies or Sensitivities
If you have an allergy or a sensitivity to something, it can cause your nipples to feel hard and sore. This is typically from things like your lotion, soap, laundry detergent or shower gel. It can be caused by hot or cold water and the fabrics you wear. If this is the cause, you may also have symptoms like itching, redness or chapping.
2. Breast Cancer
While breast cancer is not the most common reason for this symptom, it can be a potential cause. Despite a popular misconception, it can actually occur in men and women. If this is the cause, you may experience a lump in your breast, hard nipples, discharge of blood from your nipple or hard nipples. The size, shape and appearance of your breast could also change. Your doctor can treat breast cancer by removing the tumor or removing the entire breast. They may also use targeted drugs, radiotherapy, hormonal therapy or chemotherapy.
Breastfeeding is one of the most common causes of hard or sore nipples. You have glands in your breasts that are designed to produce milk. If they overproduce milk, then your nipples may feel hard and painful. Breastfeeding can help reduce the amount of milk in your breasts, and you can also reduce soreness by making sure your baby latches on properly. When your baby has just been born, your breast become engorged as your body begins to produce the nutrients that your child needs. This can make your breasts be hot, swollen, shiny or red. It can also cause your nipples to be hard or sore. This pain and discomfort should pass quickly, but talk to your midwife or doctor if it causes you discomfort or does not go away.
Mastitis is another condition that is common when you are breastfeeding. Basically, the tissue in the breast is infected, so you experience symptoms like pain, redness, soreness, swelling, fever, increased warmth or chills. It is generally treated through antibiotics that kill the bacteria causing the infection. Painkillers can help reduce the pain you feel. You also need to learn how to use the right position and technique for breastfeeding to prevent this condition from happening again.
5. Breast Rash
A breast rash can cause your skin to become flaky, red, itchy and sore. Spots may also fill with pus. Try to avoid touching or scratching the area, and you should make sure to wear loose clothes. You should also go to your doctor if the rash is severe or does not go away.
6. Paget’s Disease of the Nipple
About 1 percent of breast cancers are Paget’s disease of the nipple. While the cause is unknown, it can make your nipples hard and sore. You may also experience symptoms like itchiness, burning sensations, increased sensitivity, crusting and redness. It is generally treated through surgery and/or sessions of radiotherapy.
7. Blocked Ducts
There are many ducts located in the breast that help you produce milk. If one or more of the ducts becomes blocked, your nipples may become hard and sore. You may also experience symptoms like pain, redness, inflammation and a lump in your breast. Blocked ducts can be prevented by maintaining good hygiene and breastfeeding the right way. You can use a warm compress or over-the-counter painkillers to relieve the pain. A gentle massage may also help to limit the pain.
8. Hormonal Fluctuations
Throughout your life, your hormones will naturally change. When this happens, it can cause your nipples to become hard and sore. Some of the common times of hormonal fluctuations include:
Postmenstrual Syndrome: This syndrome causes an increased amount of estrogen in your body. As a result, you may have sore nipples.
Pregnancy: When you become pregnant, your hormones will fluctuate greatly. Your body will change to help support your baby and prepare for birth. A boost in your estrogen levels causes your breast tissue to increase. Meanwhile, progesterone stimulates your breast milk glands. Both of these hormonal changes can lead to your nipples feeling sore and hard.
Menopause and Pre-Menopause: When you go through this stage in your life, your progesterone and estrogen levels start to decrease. If these hormones do not decrease at the same rate and estrogen becomes the dominant hormone, then your nipples may fee hard and sore.