What are these blackheads on nipples and what causes them? There are many reasons why you have these black-headed bumps around your breast areas. Let us explore more on meaning, causes, symptoms, effective treatments, home remedies, and preventions measures.
Before we proceed to the causes, it is very important to get ourselves familiarized with the meaning or why they are called so.
Generally, these are small bumps that develop on the skin when hair follicles are clogged. These bumps are called so because their head looks black or dark. Cullen Bay Spa notes that “blackheads are a specific kind of dark acne lesion, so-called because they contain oxidized melanin, the pigment made by skin cells called melanocytes.”
They can occur on any part of the body and they are a mild form of acne. Common places include the nose, face, chest, thighs, and even your breasts.
The occurrence of blackheads on different parts of the body have various myths depending on certain societies but, those will remain myths as their names suggest and they will never hold any water.
There are several causes of acne on the nipples for both men and women. Some of the common causes of these black-headed zits or acne include the following:
1. Blockage of hair follicles
Just like any part of the body, there are some hair follicles around the nipples. The follicles sometimes are blocked due to the accumulation of dirt, sebum, oil and even the dead skins. These factors can lead to their formation.
In some circumstances, some individuals especially men with hairy breast can have ingrown hairs that could trigger the appearance of pimple-like bumps. These bumps may be very painful, swollen and cause a lot of discomforts.
2. Hormonal changes during puberty, Periods and pregnancies
These stages are normally characterized by hormonal variations or imbalances. For instance, the level of certain hormones will tend to be high in some women during the mentioned stages. The hormones changes during these periods can have a role in increasing sebum oil.
When the level of hormone androgen goes up during these periods, there can excess sebum may be produced and trigger acne (the various types)
Androgen is also known to increase during puberty in both boys and girls; this condition makes both boys and girls susceptible to this problem including on nipples, chest, face, nose and other places. Increase in androgen hormone can also trigger excessive hair growth, polycystic ovary syndrome, and acne.
3. Fungal Infections
Sometimes bumps on nipples and fold under the breast that resembles pimples can be due to a rash caused by fungal infections such as yeast. Since breast area often sweats and regain moisture, they are therefore the best breeding ground for fungus. This fungus grows faster in dumps and moist grounds.
4. Breast cancer
This is a rare cause that hardly happens. Unless you have hard bumps on the areola area and they don’t go away, breast cancer is an unlikely cause.
5. Certain medications
Various medications and drugs have been found to influence their occurrence. Such drugs can also induce acne breakouts. These medications can include androgens, lithium, and corticosteroids.
Some drugs such as birth pills can also trigger variations and imbalances of certain hormones lead to this problem as well as other parts of the body especially facial, back, chest, thigh blackheads, etc.
6. Cosmetics and skin products
In some circumstances, your skin pores can be blocked by certain cosmetics and skin products. This will thereafter lead to their formation and even acne.
Again, some natural oils such as coconut oil and coconut butter can also clog the pores leading to this problem. Use non-comedogenic products since they do not clog pores.
7. More factors
Apart from the above factors, other potential triggers include:
- Improper size of bras
- Overproduction of milk in breastfeeding mothers
- Accidental trauma leading bruising and injuries
- Poor personal hygiene
- Environmental pollution especially with tiny particles in the air that can clog skin pores
- Undertaking a lot of stress and mental tension
- Living in places with high humidity as well as excessive sweating
- Presence of Propionibacterium acne on your skin
The symptoms that can assist you to distinguish blackheads from other skin conditions, darkened, slightly raised, non-inflamed and non-painful bumps. They are non-inflammatory kind of acne because the comedones have not infected.
There might be a bit of irritation and little pain in rare cases. You expect much irritation and pain if they are either infected, you have a severe acne form or other diseases and conditions.
Also, they can also cause some psychological effects such as lower self-esteem, reduced life quality, embarrassment.
Treatment will solely depend on their causes as well as their severity. The kind of treatments that will be used to heal them ranges from prescribed medications to homes remedies. Below are the most effective treatments:
1. Prescriptions by Doctors
There are numerous medications that can be prescribed by doctors when the over the counter lotions, gels or creams don’t seem to yield any fruit. Such medications can be effective not only blackheads but also whiteheads, pimples, and acne.
Most of the medications will contain products such as adapalene, tazarotene, tretinoin, and vitamin A. All these will enhance faster skin cell turnover and stopping plug formation. In addition, these medications may also contain ingredients such as antibiotics and benzoyl peroxide.
Apart from topical therapy, oral medications can also be used. Actually, oral medications will include hormonal therapy using oral contraceptives, which help manage the excessive production of sebum that always triggers this problem.
2. Over the counter treatments
OTCs such as creams, gel, lotions, and pads can also help. They help in drying excess oil, enhancing the shedding off of dead skin cells and also killing the bacteria. These over the counter products can contain ingredients such as benzoyl peroxide and resorcinol and salicylic acid.
3. Chemical peels
Mild chemicals can be used to peel the top skin layer leaving the beneath skin very smooth. This will actually help get rid of dead skin cells and dry milk that could clog the pores around the areola which can also contribute to the formation of the blackheads. Note that the use of strong chemical peels should strictly be performed by dermatologists or skincare professionals only.
4. Laser and Light remedy
These two therapies can be very effective in reaching the underneath skin and dealing with this acne type without interfering with the upper skin layer.
The will help to limit the excess production of sebum and they can help in killing bacteria that may cause infections.
5. Manual removal
In some mild circumstances, your dermatologist may use some specialized tools or extractors. This procedure will involve making a small opening in the plug then using pressure with looped extractors to get rid of the clogs.
There are many homes remedies, which can heal several skin disorders including acne. The effectiveness of a certain home remedy will solely depend on the underlying causes. Furthermore, the success of these remedies can also be influenced by the mildness or severity. Some of these popular remedies may include:
- Try applying egg white mask
- Application Honey, milk and radish seed on the affected skin
- Application of baking soda paste (water + baking soda) on the affected skin
- Try a gentle sugar scrub
- Drinking enough water
- Opting for healthy diets
- Use of salicylic containing soaps
- Use of Cinnamon powder and lemon juice
- Try applying aspirin paste
- Salt Soak
Inasmuch as some causes cannot be prevented especially those related to hormones, some can be prevented. Some effective techniques to prevent their formation include the following:
- Always wear a breathable bra and loose cotton clothing
- Use a humidifier at home to reduce sweating
- Shower regularly to avoid the accumulation of sebum, germs, and bacteria
- Gently exfoliate the dead layer on the top layer of the skin to reduce incidences of black spots
- Reduce dairy products that contain certain hormones that can stimulate oils gland leading to excess oil productions
- Avoid eating processed foods and sugary drinks that can trigger the rise in insulin level that can induce certain blackheads producing hormones
- Get plenty of rest
- Manage stress in your life
- Exercise regularly
- Keep good personal hygiene
The best tip for preventing the occurrence of nipple blackheads is by keeping the nipple area clean and dry.
Their symptoms may range from mild to severe symptoms and in case you use of over the counter products and home remedies but the result is not satisfying, see your doctor or dermatologist for further medications.