Why Does My Nipple Sting
Nipples are an interesting part of our anatomy that we rarely think about until something goes wrong with them. When they’re not working properly, it’s usually because there’s friction involved. This means that when you have a problem with your nipples, it’s probably due to what you do with them every day. Here are some examples of things that can happen to make your nipples sting or itch:
Friction is the most common reason for the nipples to be sore. Friction can occur if the nipples rub against a shirt or poorly-fitting bra, during sports activities, such as running, surfing, or basketball. Friction on the nipple can often cause soreness and a stinging pain. The skin may also become dry or chapped.
Infection is another common source of sores around the nipples. A yeast infection is one example. If you notice red rashes around your nipples, this could indicate that you might have a fungal infection. You should see a doctor if you suspect that you have an infection.
An allergic reaction can also result in a rash around the nipples. Contact dermatitis occurs when your body has an abnormal response to substances to which it normally doesn’t react well.
If you’ve ever noticed that your nipples start to hurt after you use a deodorant lotion or soap, then you know how sensitive your nipples can be. Your underarms get smelly and dirty; so does your clothing. Any product used to scent those areas will come into contact with your nipples. Even water can irritate nipples. Soaps, especially antiperspirants, can strip away the skin’s natural oils. These oils keep moisture at bay and protect the skin from drying out. Without these protective barriers, your nipples are more susceptible to irritation.
Other factors, like tight clothes and poor hygiene habits, can contribute to nipple discomfort. For instance, wearing ill-fitting bras can put unnecessary pressure on the breasts. Wearing too many layers of clothing over your chest area can restrict air flow, making nipples feel cold and uncomfortable. Itching nipples are a sign that bacteria are present and causing problems. Keeping your nipples clean by washing daily with mild soap can help prevent infections. Shaving closely around the nipples can lead to ingrown hairs and razor burn. Exfoliating creams can remove dead skin cells and encourage new growth. Always wear loose fitting tops, good quality bras, and avoid rubbing or squeezing your nipples.
Now let’s look at some ways to relieve the discomfort caused by irritated, inflamed, cracked, or infected nipples.
Treating Irritated Nipples
One way to treat irritation is to take extra care of your nipples, which means keeping them hydrated, protected, and free from harmful agents. Following are tips on caring for your nipples:
Keep your nails short, wide trimmed, and rounded to reduce damage to the tender skin surrounding your nipples.
Use gloves and long sleeves while gardening, swimming, or doing yard work, since chemicals found in fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, and other garden products can irritate the skin. Don’t smoke indoors where children play.
Wear breathable fabrics made from cotton, wool, silk, linen, or blended materials designed to allow sufficient ventilation. Avoid synthetic fibers, which trap heat next to the skin instead of releasing it through perspiration. Synthetic fabric tends to hold onto moisture next to the skin. Sweat trapped beneath the fabric builds up and increases the temperature near the surface, leading to irritation.
Avoid hot tubs and saunas, since high temperatures increase sweating and promote evaporation. Use anti-perspirants sparingly to reduce oil loss and maintain natural lubrication. Keep yourself cool by drinking plenty of fluids and avoiding alcohol, caffein, tobacco, and excessive amounts of caffeine.
Try using moisturizing cream applied directly to the nipples. Choose a noncomedogenic (nonclogging) brand that won’t leave behind any residue. Moisturize several times each week. Apply topical ointments only to the affected area. Never apply medications to the nipples themselves. Wash hands thoroughly before applying medication.
For relief of itching, try placing ice cubes wrapped in a damp cloth over the nipples. Or soak your hands in very warm water — never hot! Then gently massage the affected area. Dry your hands thoroughly, and don’t touch the irritated area for 24 hours.
When treating nipple discomfort, remember to pay attention to all parts of the breast. Nipple stimulation is important for lactation, but be careful not to overly stimulate the entire breast or nipple area. In addition, it’s important to consider medical causes for nipple pain, including diabetes, cancer, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, psoriasis, eczema, lichen planus, herpes simplex virus type I, radiation therapy, leukemia, lymphoma, malnutrition, alcoholism, liver disease, kidney disorders, and hypothyroidism [Source: Mayo Clinic].
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