What are the signs of nipple problems?

Nipple symptoms are common symptoms that can occur in both women and men in any age group or population. Many underlying causes of nipple symptoms are benign, but some symptoms may be caused by serious diseases, such as breast cancer.

Nipple symptoms can include:

  • Flaking of the nipple skin

  • New onset of inverted nipple or other change in nipple shape

  • Nipple bleeding and cracking

  • Nipple darkening

  • Nipple discharge that can be white, clear, red, brown or green

  • Nipple itching

  • Nipple redness

  • Nipple soreness, tenderness or pain

  • Rash or sore on the nipple

Nipple symptoms can vary in character and intensity depending on the underlying cause and individual factors. They can be constant, or may be felt only when you examine or squeeze your nipple. Nipple symptoms can gradually build for weeks or months, or they can appear suddenly, such as nipple symptoms of mastitis or pregnancy. Nipple symptoms can occur in both breasts at once or in one breast at a time.

Your nipples and breasts will undergo normal changes during the course of your life in size, shape, consistency and appearance. Hormonal changes are a common cause of nipple symptoms. Hormonal changes can occur at the onset of puberty; during menstrual cycles, pregnancy, breastfeeding, perimenopause and menopause; and with the use of hormone medications.

Nipple symptoms can be caused by physical changes, such as weight fluctuations, or other causes, such as nipple injury or breast surgery. Nipple symptoms can also be caused by breast cancer and other diseases, disorders or conditions, such as breast infections and hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid).

Seek prompt medical care if you have unexplained nipple symptoms in one or both nipples. Left undetected and untreated, some underlying causes of nipple symptoms, such as breast cancer, can lead to serious and life-threatening complications. Seeking regular medical care throughout your life improves your chances of discovering some serious diseases at their earliest, most curable stages.


What other symptoms might occur with nipple symptoms?

Nipple symptoms may occur by themselves or with symptoms in other areas of the body. Some signs of nipple and breast problems may be evident only through medical testing. It is important to seek medical care if you have nipple symptoms, changes in your breasts, or other breast symptoms. Symptoms you may be aware of that can occur along with nipple symptoms include:


What causes nipple symptoms?

Nipple symptoms may be caused by a variety of diseases, disorders and conditions. In many cases, nipple symptoms are caused by a benign condition that is not generally harmful, such as pregnancy and other conditions that cause hormonal changes. In fact, during the course of your life, your nipples and breasts will undergo normal changes in size, shape, consistency and appearance. However, becau... Read more about nipple symptomscauses

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Sep 20, 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.

This Article is Filed Under: Infections and Contagious Diseases

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