Why Is My Nipple Dry
Nipples come in pairs on both males and females, but they’re not always symmetrical. For example, a woman’s left breast is usually larger than her right because its position is higher up on the chest. Also, male nipples tend to be smaller than female ones.
The size of your nipples also varies throughout the day. They get bigger when you feed a baby, after sex and during menstruation. The average man has about 2 inches (5 centimeters) worth of hair around his nipples, while an average woman gets roughly 1/2 inch (1 centimeter) more. However, some people have no visible pubic hair at all due to shaving, waxing or laser treatment.
Your nipples don’t just serve as sexual organs for both sexes — they function as sensitive erogenous zones that enjoy stimulation. Some people even call them “taste buds.” When you touch your nipples with your fingers, you activate free nerve endings called A-delta fibers and C fibers. These nerves transmit messages through tiny branches that reach into the brain where they stimulate pleasure centers.
A variety of factors can affect how well your nipples respond to stimulation. If you notice any signs of discomfort or pain, it could mean something serious like cancerous tissue. On the other hand, if you see irritation without pain, it might simply be a case of ingrown hairs or a minor infection.
In this article we’ll look at what causes dry nipples and learn why they sometimes itch so much. We’ll examine potential causes for dryness, soreness and cracking, and find out whether it’s possible to alleviate these symptoms naturally. Finally, we’ll explore one surefire way to avoid unsightly hangover bumps. But first, let’s take a closer look at how hormones influence nipples.
Hormones and Nipples
Women who go through puberty early develop breasts earlier than their peers and often grow faster. This is partly because estrogen stimulates mammary glands to produce milk. Menopause marks the end of monthly ovulation cycles, which lead to increased production of hormones including estrogen and progesterone. Estrogen encourages fat cells to multiply rapidly, leading to fuller breasts. Progesterone helps build new tissues and connective linings. It also reduces inflammation by limiting the movement of white blood cells into damaged areas.
Men and women alike can suffer from hormone imbalances that disrupt normal functioning of the reproductive system. Hormonal birth control pills work by reducing levels of progesterone and estrogen. Women who undergo surgery for uterine fibroids or endometriosis may need further medical attention to restore proper balance.
For many women, fluctuating hormone levels can trigger painful, bothersome problems such as hot flashes, mood swings and night sweats. Other women may notice changes in libido, vaginal discharge or breast development. Although most of these conditions resolve themselves within a few months, they can become acute enough to warrant medical care.
As far as male reproduction goes, hormones play a big part. Excess testosterone leads to acne breakouts, oily scalp, body odor, erectile dysfunction and prostate enlargement. Androstenedione, another type of testosterone, increases sperm count and motility. Testosterone deficiency can result in low libido, reduced muscle mass, depression and fatigue [sources: Mayo Clinic].
Testosterone isn’t the only culprit behind nipple issues. Let’s talk about some of the main reasons why your nipples may start itching or drying out.
Causes of Dry Nips
When you sleep, your nipples rub against your undergarments. This rubbing irritates the skin, causing redness, swelling and inflammation. Chafing makes your nipples tender and inflamed.
Nipples enlarge during pregnancy, and extra fluid collects between layers of skin. As a result, they become softer and less firm. Also, the pressure of nursing makes them swell. This condition can persist long after delivery.
During breastfeeding, your nipples absorb milk or colostrum. Milk contains fats and proteins that nourish infants. It also triggers secretion of prolactin, a hormone that regulates milk production. Prolactin helps make your nipples soft and responsive. Any time you stop feeding your baby, your nipples will revert back to their original state of hardness.
Cracks and sores on the surface of your nipples can occur when you expose them too frequently. You can also injure them when you wear tight clothing that restricts circulation. Wearing jewelry near your nipples can also increase the risk of irritation. So can applying lotions or lip balm containing petroleum jelly, mineral oil or parabens. Paraben preservatives can alter the pH level of your skin, leading to irritation.
If you’ve ever had a reaction to cosmetics, medications, plants or food, then you know allergies can wreak havoc on your complexion. Your skin may turn red and irritated, and rashes may spring up on your nipples.
Hair Removal Procedures
Removal of excess hair using depilatories, chemical peels or electrolysis can leave open wounds susceptible to irritation. Laser removal treatments typically require anesthesia, leaving you vulnerable to postoperative complications such as infection.
Soreness and Cracking
You may use moisturizer daily, but if it doesn’t contain a broad spectrum sunscreen, it won’t protect your nipples from sun damage. Exposure to UV radiation can cause brown spots, wrinkles and skin discoloration. Sunlight breaks down collagen and elastin, two key components in healthy skin structure. Over time, repeated sun exposure weakens elasticity and causes wrinkling.
One of the best ways to prevent dry nipples is to cover them up. Use loose fitting garments with built-in bras, and keep your nipples covered while outdoors. To reduce the effects of sunlight, apply a topical cream with a broadspectrum sunscreen. Try Aloe vera, cocoa butter, jojoba, shea, coconut or sweet almond oils. Coconut oil protects nipples from heat better than other oils.
If your nipples are especially sensitive, try wearing a pair of specially designed silicone gloves. They provide protection from windy days and cold weather. Or you can buy disposable plastic nip guards online or in drugstores. Wear them whenever you handle baby bottles, washpans, spoons or knives.
Now that you understand why your nipples may be dry and uncomfortable, read on to discover home remedies to relieve the problem.
Dry nipples can become infected with bacteria, particularly Staphylococcus epidermis. Bacterial infections spread easily among family members. Before taking antibiotics, consult your doctor about the possibility of staph infection.
Home Remedies for Dry Nips
Treating dry, itchy nipples yourself is simple once you know how. Here are several tips for relief:
Soak cotton balls in witch hazel three times per week. Place them over your nipples and allow them to remain there overnight. Repeat the process until the irritation subsides. Witch hazel can be found at many pharmacies.
Use plain medicated soap instead of antibacterial soap. Plain soap works better since it lacks detergents that may irritate already raw skin. Apply gentle circular motions to help exfoliate dead skin cells. Buff away dirtiness with a clean towel. Don’t scrub too hard, though; otherwise you’ll tear the delicate skin.
Avoid direct contact between your nipples and anything that feels rough or abrasive, such as towels, potholders and pantyhose. After washing dishes, wipe your hands thoroughly before touching your face, eyes or mouth.
Keep your nails short and trim them regularly. Be careful about cutting fingernails close to the quick, where bleeding occurs easily. Avoid sharing nail clippers with others.
To treat cracked nipples, soak a piece of gauze in warm water every hour. Lay the gauze on top of your nipples and secure it with a bandage. Change soaked cloths as needed.
Take frequent showers, lather up with rich moisturizing shampoo and rinse off gently. Rinse carefully in cool running water rather than letting shower spray hit your nipples directly.
Wear breathable fabrics made of wool, silk or rayon. Opt for seamless underwear made of nylon, polypropylene, spandex or cotton.
Although you may not want to think about it, dry nipples aren’t pleasant. Fortunately, treating them is relatively easy. Visit the links on the next page for additional information.
Many women prefer to wear padded bras to provide support and comfort. Padded bras offer greater coverage than regular bras do. Many brands boast added padding for sensitivity and comfort. However, some companies advertise “no-wire” designs that eliminate wires altogether. Unfortunately, some manufacturers market their products as being comfortable and supportive when they actually lack those qualities. Read labels carefully and ask questions if necessary.
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