What is nipple pain?

Nipple pain can describe any discomfort in the nipple area and can result from mild physical surface abrasion from such activities as breastfeeding, engaging in physical activity (for example, exercise or jogging) without a bra, wearing a poorly fitted bra, or participating in any activity that produces friction on the skin of the breast.

Nipple pain can also be caused by specific disorders, particularly inflammatory disorders. Both mastitis (an infection and inflammation of the ducts of the breast) and breast abscess (a collection of pus located in a specific area) can result in nipple pain. These conditions are common in women who are breastfeeding.

A rare type of cancer, known as Paget’s disease of the breast (also known as Paget's disease of the nipple, or simply Paget's disease), can result in inflammation and pain that is particularly localized to the nipple area.

Ordinary soreness from surface abrasions should clear up within a few days. Inflammatory conditions will need more attention. Seek prompt medical care if you experience any of the following symptoms: excessive cracking or open wounds on the surface of the nipple or areola; heat or redness in the nipple, breast tissues, or on the breast surface; nipple or breast pain on one side only; fever or chills; new, unusual, or changing lumps in the breast; nipple abscess or nipple discharge not related to breastfeeding, especially a brown or bloody discharge; or bleeding from the nipple.

If your nipple pain is persistent or causes you concern, seek prompt medical care.


What other symptoms might occur with nipple pain?

Nipple pain may accompany other symptoms, which will vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition. A few symptoms that affect the nipple may also involve other body systems.

Breast or nipple symptoms that may occur along with nipple pain

Nipple pain may accompany other symptoms affecting the nipple including:


What causes nipple pain?

Nipple pain can occur as a normal symptom of the menstrual cycle as breasts, and sometimes nipples in particular, become more sensitive with changes in levels of the hormones estrogen and progesterone. Another frequent cause is nipple irritation or surface abrasion from friction with fabric if you don’t wear a bra or if you wear an ill-fitting bra.

A frequent cause of nipple pain ... Read more about nipple paincauses

Medical Reviewer: Cynthia Haines, MD Last Annual Review Date: Aug 7, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.