Why Are My Nipples Sore To Touch
It’s no secret that breasts are highly sensitive to touch. The skin is thinner than a sheet of paper, which means it’s more susceptible to irritation from clothing or anything else touching it directly. It also has nerve endings similar to those on our hands and feet, so we know how sensitive fingers and toes are. Even a light tap with someone’s elbow can cause an intense response.
The same goes for your nipples. They’re just as sensitive as your fingertips, especially when they’re erect. And since they’re not very thick, they’re even more likely to be irritated by tight clothing. If you’ve ever had a bra that was too small, then you probably noticed how sensitive your nipples became after wearing them.
Breasts aren’t the only parts of the body that get sensitive under certain circumstances. Your nipples might become sore for many different reasons — some temporary, others chronic. We’ll cover these and other causes of nipple soreness throughout this article. But first, let’s talk about what happens when you get a rash or infection.
When You Get A Rash Or An Infection On Your Breasts
Your nipples are particularly prone to getting rashes and infections because they’re exposed to everything that comes into contact with your skin. That includes rubbing or chafing from bras, underwear, shirts, and any other clothing. This constant friction can lead to inflammation and sores.
An infection like yeast or staphylococcus could spread through direct contact with another person’s mouth or genitals. When you have a vaginal discharge that smells bad, you don’t want to share utensils or towels with anyone. Similarly, if you notice that your partner’s vagina looks red or inflamed, you should avoid sharing sex toys, lubricants, and toilet seats until the problem clears up.
Some people think that bacteria will disappear faster if you bathe before going out. Unfortunately, most bacteria live inside pores, and washing isn’t enough to remove them. Bacteria can also hide between folds of skin and hair follicles. So if you go somewhere where there’s already someone who’s infected, it might spread to you.
If you do come down with a bacterial infection, you’ll need to see your doctor right away. He or she may prescribe antibiotics to kill the bacteria. In addition, some doctors recommend applying hydrocortisone cream to reduce swelling and itching.
Yeast infections usually appear near your nipples and start with itchiness followed by bumps around the affected area. These cysts form when dead skin cells turn into alcohol instead of living tissue. Yeast feed off of sugar found in sweat and food residue. Once yeast multiply, the infection spreads to nearby areas. As a result, the nipples begin to swell, ooze fluid, and change color. Some people experience burning sensations.
To treat yeast infections, wash your entire body using mild soap and warm water. Try over-the-counter anti-fungal creams and lotions. Don’t use products containing alcohol, such as benzene, ethyl acetate, or denatured alcohol. Also avoid nail polish remover, hairsprays, deodorant sprays, and scented shower gels.
If you develop white spots on your nipples, you might have tinea cruris (jock itch). Tinea cruris is a fungal infection caused by dermatophytes, which thrive in warm, moist environments. People with weak immune systems are at higher risk of contracting jock itch.
Treatments include shampooing and bathing regularly, avoiding sweaty places like locker rooms, and keeping nails clean and trimmed. You may also take oral medications prescribed by your doctor. Be sure to tell your sexual partner(s) if you have jock itch. They can help prevent spreading it by taking proper care of their own hygiene.
Next, let’s look at one of the most painful kinds of nipple soreness — period pain.
During Menstruation, Period Pain Can Cause Sore Nipples
Many women complain about sore nipples during menstruation. While discomforting, this kind of soreness is normal. During a cycle, the lining of your uterus sheds, leaving behind blood clots called “slugs.” Your cervix dilates, causing extra blood flow to the lower part of your body. This results in heavier bleeding and increased pressure on nerves in your pelvis.
As a result, you might feel sharp pains in your back, hips, and legs. The type of pain depends on where the slugs land. Most often, however, women describe feeling throbbing headaches in the pelvic region. Cramps, diarrhea, constipation, vomiting, and gas can also accompany heavy menstrual bleeding. All of these symptoms distract you from thinking clearly.
You can relieve period pain naturally by drinking plenty of liquids. Warm baths can provide comfort, but be careful not to soak longer than 15 minutes; you don’t want to cool down your whole body while you’re still soaking wet. Instead, try to relax and breathe deeply.
For severe pain, consult your gynecologist. She can prescribe stronger pain relievers, including nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen. Ask her about prescription hormonal therapy if you suffer from premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Hormonal treatments contain strong chemicals that affect the levels of estrogen and progesterone in your system.
Another thing you can do to reduce period pain is to wear comfortable cotton briefs made specifically for pregnant women. Wearing these panties helps absorb moisture and keeps your crotch dry.
Now let’s talk about why nipples get sore from nursing babies.
Women Who Breastfeed May Have Sore Nipples Because Of Nursing Babies
While nursing mothers tend to worry about whether their breasts produce enough milk, they rarely consider nipple problems. Many women find that their nipples become sore once baby begins nursing. The reason for this is simple: breastfeeding puts a tremendous amount of stress on your nipples.
There are two types of ducts running beneath the surface of your nipples: milk ducts and buttonhole ducts. Milk ducts transport milk produced in larger lobules underneath your nipples to your baby’s mouth. Buttonhole ducts connect the milk ducts to openings in the skin called “nipple pouches.” The skin surrounding each nipple forms a hard shell known as the areola.
A woman who nurses a newborn must support the weight of the infant and pump his/her chest to keep the baby latched onto her breast. This repeated motion builds up tension within the skin above the nipple and leads to soreness.
Sore nipples can also occur due to poor technique. For example, squeezing the breast harder can damage the delicate tissues in the nipple. Using your finger to guide the baby toward the nipple can cause injury. You may also injure yourself by holding your baby upside down. Finally, if you nurse your child in bed, moving your upper torso or sitting up suddenly can cause pain.
Most new moms find relief from sore nipples by switching to breast pumps. There are several styles available, depending on how much time a mother wants to spend pumping. New moms who pump exclusively for 10 hours per day may choose electric pumps that work 24 hours per day. Pumping less frequently allows a woman to finish feeding her child and return to sleep sooner.
Finally, let’s discuss nipple soreness that occurs during menopause.
Women Going Through Menopause May Have Sore Nipples From Hot Flushes
Menopausal women report hot flushes, night sweats, and insomnia. One symptom is a sudden increase in temperature. This is caused by sweating and rapid changes in heart rate. Women who go through menopause typically experience a decrease in estrogen production. Estrogen regulates the metabolism of fats and proteins, which affects every cell in the body. Without sufficient amounts of estrogen, fat accumulates in the liver, leading to cholesterol buildup and fatty deposits on arteries.
This build-up narrows blood vessels and restricts blood flow to vital organs. Blood vessel walls thicken and lose flexibility. As a result, oxygenated blood doesn’t reach muscles and bones, slowing digestion and reducing energy levels.
Since menopause disrupts hormone balance, women sometimes take hormones to replace lost functions. However, taking synthetic hormones can cause side effects such as nausea, fatigue, mood swings, and weight gain. Fortunately, herbal supplements offer safer alternatives. Talk to your health provider about natural remedies that may ease hot flashes.
One popular choice is dong quai root extract. Dong quai reduces high blood pressure and improves circulation. Herbalists say taking dong quai aids postpartum recovery, stimulates menses, and eases PMS symptoms. Another commonly used herb is black cohosh, which increases the secretion of prolactin and oxytocin, both of which promote contractions of the uterus. Other herbs that may help alleviate hot flushes include evening primrose oil, feverfew, ginger, and garlic.
Herbs won’t stop hot flushes completely, though. If you’d prefer to have relief from the symptoms, seek medical attention. Your physician may prescribe testosterone replacement therapy or antidepressants to deal with depression. In rare cases, he or she may recommend surgery to repair blocked blood vessels.
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