Why is My Nipple Swollen? Is it Pregnancy, Piercing, Breastfeeding or Cancer

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Ever had a swollen nipple, seen someone with this condition? When should you worry and when not? When should you consult a physician and when should you remain calm? 

Why do nipples swell
Why the swelling?

Having a nipple that is swollen is not unusual, especially among women. This swelling may be accompanied by some pain and unusual tenderness. Should these symptoms worry you? You don’t need to worry as they are likely to disappear within a few days.

This problem cause a lot of worry among many women, especially these days when breast cancer is on the rise. You may have heard women complain of their nipples being increasingly sensitive, swelling or being sore and tender.

This may also happen to boys and men. It is unusual for teens to have this problem are characterized by some pain.

The swelling can affect one or both your nipples. Many people, however, are not aware of the factors that may behind the swelling. This article, in this context, explores various factors that may them swell.

When Does It Happen

According to, having a swollen nipple alone shouldn’t worry you, unless if accompanied by other symptoms.  In most cases, women experience it during the following instances;

  • During pregnancy
  • When breastfeeding
  • After piercing
  • During monthly periods

Having this issue at any other time, rather than these times, may be an indication of an underlying health problem.

Causes or reasons

Like earlier noted, it may not be a serious problem that should give you a sleepless night. establishes that it may be due to something you are doing or not doing.

Generally, it is attributed to the following factors:

1. Wearing Tight Clothing

If you are experiencing a swollen nipple, then check the type of clothes you wear, including the bra. Before seeking any medical attention, first, consider wearing loose clothes.

According to, tight clothes, especially tops and bras may cause excessive friction on your nipples. Consequently,  they may become not only red and tender but also swollen.

If it is as a result of wearing tight clothes, then you don’t need to see a doctor on it. Just shift to wearing loose clothes and your breasts will be normal.

There has been a heated debate on whether tight bras are playing a role in causing breast cancer. Though not medically proven, many medics feel that wearing tight bras may not only make your nipples to swell but may also cause other serious health issues.

2. Allergic Reaction

If this happens now and then, and the swelling disappears within a few days, then you are unlikely to be sick. Maybe your this happens due to an allergic reaction.

You will agree with me that nipples are very sensitive, probably more than any other external body part. In this context, it wouldn’t be abnormal for them to react against certain substances and clothes.

On why do my nipples hurt, highlights that it is normal for them to react against certain substances such as lotions, soaps, laundry detergents, and fabrics.

Doing away with these substances may provide permanent relief to this problem. You may not even need to see a doctor.

3. An infection

Ever heard of mastitis in human beings? Many people are only conversant with mastitis in cows. However, this condition can also affect women.

Mastitis infects the tissues inside one or both breasts. This condition is common among women who are breastfeeding. Some people call this condition lactation mastitis.

It is estimated that 10 % of all breastfeeding mothers suffer from mastitis. Besides having a nipple that is swollen, you are likely to see other symptoms such as:

  • Redness and extremely swollen
  • The breasts hurt on touching
  • Recurrent body fever
  • Fatigue
  • The breast feels hot on touching
  • Chills and shivering
  • You experience some burning sensation in the breast
  • You become anxious and stressed up

If you have some of most of these symptoms, consider going for a mastitis test.

4. Breast Piercing

It sounds strange that some people pierce their breasts. This is a common trend today, especially among the youth. The piercing is mainly done on the nipples.

While covering on how to recognize and treat a nipple piercing infection, states that these piercings are very risky, thus the main factor behind their swelling. It further notes that the process involves puncturing one of the most sensitive parts of your body.

In this context, nipple piercing comes along with some of the following complications:

  • Extremely bad odor around the piercing
  • You may see some yellow, green or brown discharge
  • They may feel hot to the touch
  • They become very painful
  • They may swell unusually

5. Pregnancy sign 

Are you pregnant and experiencing some swelling and tenderness in your breasts or nipples? Then you shouldn’t ask why this is happening?

You will agree with me that the body becomes crazy when one is pregnant. The hormones, specifically, go crazy. This hormonal imbalance affects the sensitive parts first, including these areas.

Apart from swelling, they also become excessively sensitive, bigger and darker. In this context, you don’t have to worry because it is a normal sign of pregnancy.

On breast changes during pregnancy, notes that increased blood flow in the breast tissues is as a result of increased hormone levels. As a result of this increased blood flow, your nipples become sore, swollen, sensitive to touch and tingly.

6. Breastfeeding

If this happens during breastfeeding, then consider this to be normal. Whether you are a new mother or not, breasts undergo a lot of changes when one is breastfeeding. notes that it is normal for nipples to feel tender, sore, sensitive and become swollen during breastfeeding {}.

Like earlier noted, they are very sensitive. Women who are breastfeeding for the first time can attest to that. The continuous and frequent sucking during breastfeeding causes the soreness, tenderness, redness, and swelling that we are talking about.

Managing swollen nipples

Regardless of the cause, you will attest to the fact that swelling, and at times soreness, make many people very uncomfortable. According to notes that swollen nipples can be managed through the adoption of the following practices:

  • Always ensure that you wear loose bras and tops
  • Take painkillers when in pain
  • Use some hydrogel dressings to reduce the itching and soreness
  • If infected, use antibacterial ointments to facilitate the healing
  • Keep your them clean
  • When cleaning them, always do so gently as they are very sensitive
  • Adopt the right breastfeeding positions to prevent irritation

When to see a doctor?

Like earlier noted in this article, swelling of your nipples, especially among women is not abnormal. However, you are keen to check some other alarming symptoms.

Mayo Clinic notes that you should see a physician if you experience some of the following signs and symptoms:

  1. If your breast becomes extremely red
  2. If you are experiencing severe itching
  3. If you see a lump in the breast
  4. If you see unusual thickening of the skin on the breast
  5. If the skin around your them becomes flaky and scaly
  6. If your breast becomes crusty characterized with extreme oozing
  7. If you experience a burning or tingling sensation for a long time
  8. If  they become inverted (turned-in)
  9. If you see some bloody discharge.
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