Itchy nipples in women or females is a symptom of an underlying condition. It could be eczema on breast or a more serious case of breast cancer. What does it mean when the nipples or breast itch during breastfeeding? In this post, we have covered comprehensively possible causes, the symptoms and treatment for this condition. Find also, home remedies to help relieve itching.
Itchy nipples meaning
To most people, itchy nipple can be a cause of discomfort and pain. Depending on the underlying cause of the itching, some people will have the itch for long compared to others. An itchy nipple can also be an underlying cause of a serious medical condition that will require immediate medical attention.
An itchy can be defined as the continuous urge to scratch. It is the uncomfortable sensation on the skin that causes a desire to scratch. There are very many things that could cause this kind of feeling, one common cause of the itching is Paget’s disease of the nipples. Also known as Paget’s disease of the breast, this is a rare disease associated with breast cancer.
Paget’s disease causes eczema-like changes to the skin of the nipples and the area of the darker skin surrounding the nipples. It is in most cases a sign of breast cancer in the tissue behind the nipple. Around 4% of women with breast cancer have Paget’s disease of the nipples.
The condition will start in the nipples and may extend to the areola. It appears as a red, scaly rash on the skin of the nipple and areola [NHS]. The affected skin sores and becomes inflamed, it could also be itchy and causes a burning sensation. In some people, the nipple can be ulcerated.
The rash caused by parget’s disease is similar to the skin rash caused by other condition such as eczema, psoriasis or even contact dermatitis. Leaving the rash untreated or when you continuously scratch it, it could cause the nipples to bleed, become ulcerated or scab over.
Itchy nipples and breasts
Itchy nipples and breast can be felt in both females and males. The symptoms are however common in females compared to males. The itching can be caused by an array of causes. For starters, itchy breast or nipples can be an early sign of breast cancer. The same symptom can be felt during early stages of pregnancy or during mensuration cycles.
If you do not know the underlying cause of the itching, it is important to have a professional health care provider run some diagnostic to establish what the underlying cause of the symptom is. This is because, you are able to prevent the spread, for instance of cancerous cells to adjacent tissues or increase your chances of early recovery when treatment is administered early.
Apart from a serious underlying condition that might be causing the itching, your nipples or breast could also itchy due to other condition such as hormonal changes. Hormonal fluctuation is the normal change of hormones (a regulatory substance produced in an organism and transported in tissue fluids to stimulate specific cells or tissues action) level in the body. These changes are common in female, they are commonly experienced during puberty, when pregnant or during menstruation cycle.
When pregnant, the hormones will cause the increase in the size of the breast, this could be accompanied by temporary itching. The same is experienced when girls are having their periods. Another common cause of the itching is Paget’s disease. From our discussion above, we have seen that this condition will have symptom similar to those of eczema and psoriasis which are common skin disorders.
When your nipples or breast itch, the pain and irritation can be worse especially if you are breastfeeding. When scratched continuously or when left untreated, the nipples or areolas my bleed, become ulcerated or scab over. Urgent treatment is required to help prevent this from happening.
Itchy nipples females, women
Unlike males, females are more likely to have their nipple itch, hurt or become irritated. Some of the cause of the itching are normal and the itching can clear once the underlying cause is cleared or prevented. Wearing tight and irritating clothes is a common cause of the itching. When encased in a bra, breast is vulnerable to skin problems. This is common, especially in the summer heat.
Itchy nipples in females can also be a sign of thrush while breastfeeding. It can thus be a sign of oral thrush in your kid or a possible sign of yeast infection in your breast. Yeast or fungal infection can affect any part of your body when affecting the mouth, it is known as oral thrush.
Another possible and common cause of itchy nipple in females is pregnancy. Itchy breast during pregnancy come from the many different changes in your hormone levels that are normal for pregnancy, all these changes take place in preparedness for the growth and development of your unborn baby.
When the underlying cause of the itching is pregnancy, you most likely to experience other symptoms such as sore nipples, itching, and heaviness in the breast and nipples. All this is are as a result of the breast growing and expanding. The pregnancy hormones, progesterone, and others are responsible for the increased flow of blood in large amount to the breast.
During puberty or menstruation, some of this hormonal changes may be involved and cause itching. The itching is in part temporary and will clear when you are through with your periods.
The other possible cause of itching in females is breast rash. Rash under the breast is very common. It is mostly a form of irritant dermatitis and is called intertrigo characterized by inflammation of skin folds. In females, the most common cause of this kind of rash is excessive sweating, heat, and lack of air circulation. Wearing an ill-fitting bra that rubs against the breast is the most common cause of the rash. For breast rash, factors such as hot, humid climate and obesity contribute to the problem.
Finally, female may have itching breast and nipples as symptoms of an allergic reaction to substances that come in contact with the skin. When the itching becomes severe or the irritation, inflammation or swelling becomes unbearable, you will need to have a professional health care provider diagnose it to establish what the cause of the itching is, and prescribe the best treatment option to get rid of the itching.
For mild cases, however, simple home remedies can be used to offer relief for the symptoms. This will include simple remedy like applying an ice cold compress, using cold coconut oil and applying calamine lotion.
Itchy nipples causes
The itchy nipple is a common condition, annoying but humorless. Below are some of the possible cause of itching on your breast or nipple. Some of the causes discussed below are normal and do not call for medical attention to try and treat them.
The causes of itching will include the following.
Eczema on nipples
Also known as atopic dermatitis, eczema is a common skin condition in which patches of skin become rough and inflamed. The itching may at times be accompanied by bumps that cause itching and bleeding.
Sometimes, the rash or itching will form as a result of a reaction to irritation, this form of eczema is known as eczematous dermatitis. Most of the times, however, the underlying cause of the rash is unknown.
Itchy nipples PMS
Itchy nipples can also be a sign of PMS, Premenstrual syndrome. PMs refers to the emotional and physical symptoms that occur in the one or two weeks before a woman’s period. This symptom will often vary between women and can resolve around the start of the bleeding.
Apart from itchy nipples, other symptoms will include acne, tender breast, bloating irritability and general mood change.
Itchy nipples menopause
Menopause in most cases is accompanied by different hormonal changes, all this are what causes itching and other symptoms not only on the breast but also on another part of the body.
Itchy nipples ovulation
The itchy and swollen nipple can also be a symptom of ovulation.
Itchy nipples breast cancer
Though rare, itching on your nipple can be a sign of breast cancer. The most likely form of cancer that could be causing the itching is inflammatory breast cancer, this is according to Cancer Research UK. With this type of cancer, the area of the skin over the tumor can become red, inflamed, painful and itchy.
Other causes will include:
- Itchy nipples a sign of mastitis
- Contact dermatitis
- Pregnancy causing nipples to itch
- Paget’s disease of the nipples
Itchy nipples early or during pregnancy
Pregnancy is in most cases accompanied by very many changes. Whereas the thought of having a baby can be exciting, some of the symptoms accompanying the pregnancy may make the experience downright uncomfortable. For most expectant mothers, itchy nipples are among the first signs they notice the early symptoms.
It is thus important to know that itching breast of nipples during pregnancy come from the many different changes in your hormone level. These changes are normal for pregnancy. Apart from the itching, you may feel sore nipples, heaviness in the breast and nipples as they grow and expand. In part, this is also as a result of large blood flow to your breast.
For some pregnant women, the nipples may become sore and more sensitive from increased hormones, this makes it possible for them to feel tingling after touching them. The sudden urge to scratch your nipples may come when in public. This can be embarrassing but you need to understand that this is normal. It is also possible for you to notice stretch mark begin to form.
When nearing the end of the pregnancy, your breast may become quite large and the itching may become quite severe. As the skin continue to stretch, itching can be felt on another part of the body.
Itchy nipple before and during period
An itchy nipple as said is a common condition especially to females. The itching is also common before and during periods. Before periods, or prior to your periods (premenstrual), the itching of the breast can be associated with hormonal changes. Other signs such as breast swelling and tenderness are thought of as the main premenstrual breast symptom. The itching is common in adolescent girls and women.
Hormonal fluctuation is the main cause of this changes before and during pregnancy. During period, the imbalance of estrogen and progesterone can affect your levels of serotonin. This is what brings on strong premenstrual syndrome symptoms. You must have notice of changes such as anxiety, depression, irritability and mood swings for most women during this times.
For those taking hormonal birth control, they may fail to experience many of these symptoms. It is important to know this changes or symptoms are temporary and will clear on their own with time. No medical attention or treatment is required. Over the counter, topical ointment or home remedies may be used to offer relief for some of the symptoms such as itching, irritation and burning sensation.
For those with abnormal menstrual cycle or those who experience the symptoms for long, urgent medical attention should be considered.
Itchy nipples when breastfeeding
Both the American Academy of pediatrician (APP) and the American College of Obstetrician and Gynecologists strongly recommend breastfeeding. However, the final decision of whether or not you breastfeed is between you and your child.
Breastfeeding offers you child with ideal nutrition’s, the milk also contains antibodies that will help your baby fight off virus and bacteria. Breastfeeding lowers the risk of your baby having asthma or allergies. The skin to skin contact, physical closeness and eye contact all help your baby bond more and develop the sense of security.
Breastfeeding like any other good thing has some complications accompanying it. Whether it is your first time or you have breastfed before, some problems are common. Itchy nipples or breast while breastfeeding can be a sign of yeast infection on your breast or an oral thrush infection in your kid’s mouth.
When the itching is caused by a yeast infection of the nipple, you are likely to observe the following symptoms:
- A burning sensation of the nipples
- Deep breast pain in some cases
- Cracked nipples
- Severe pain when breastfeeding
- Flaky nipples
- The nipples become sore to touch
- Pain when you wear a bra or other clothes
If you have any of the symptoms above, you will need to have a doctor cheek them out, this way, you are able to prevent serious condition such as mastitis and breast cancer.
Itchy nipples treatment
To treat an itchy nipple, you will need to first establish what the underlying cause of the itching is. Since the pain or the cause of itching may vary, so will the treatment. It is also important to known that the itching may occur infrequently for most women and seem quite unimportant at that time, if the itching persists, it can prove to be embarrassing and uncomfortable.
When treating the itching, it should be directed at the cause. This should be done after you have diagnosed the condition. While you may assume that the cause of your breast itching is superficial, other condition may cause the sensation of an itch although it may not relate to any skin disorder.
If the cause of the itching is not an underlying medical condition, to treat the itching, you need to:
- Try and wear loose made of light fabrics, the bra should offer good ventilation
- Avoid tight bras and lingerie
- Especially for those breastfeeding, always practice good hygiene
- To reduce fungal overgrowth, wash around and under your breast
- Keep your breast dry after bathing,
- For those using breast enlargement creams, have them prescribed by a professional as most are said to cause contact dermatitis
- Over the counter topical creams such as anti-itching, anti-inflammatory and moisturizers can all offer relief for the itching and burning sensation.
- Oral or topical antibiotics can be used for yeast infection causing the itching, this will depend on how severe the infection is
- You could also try some of the home remedies below.
Home remedy for itchy nipples
From our discussions above, we have seen that itchy nipples are common. Apart from the discomfort caused by the itching, most of the time the condition does not pose any threat to your health. The itching ill however in most cases be accompanied by yeast or other types of fungal infection.
Here is how to relieve the symptoms and get rid of the itching at home with simple home remedies.
The simplest way of getting rid of the itching at home is by using a few cubes of ice. A cold compress can help relieve may other symptoms lie itching and burning sensation caused by rash or irritation of the breast.
Just do the following:
- Wrap some ice cubes in a clean face towel
- Put it over the itching nipple and hold it there for around 5 minute
- Pose then repeat
- You can use cold water in place of the ice cubes
- Dip a clean face towel in a cub of cold water and apply a cold compress
Apple cider vinegar
Diluted apple cider vinegar can also be used to get rid of the irritation. First wash the infected area with a mild soap and water. Rinse and dry the breast then apply a solution of dilute apple cider vinegar on the nipple and breast using a clean cotton swab.
Use coconut oil
Coconut oil is a great soothing and healing agent. It can thus help offer relief from rashes. The greasy nature of coconut oil also help reduce friction that causes rashes under breast. Coconut oil is also a great antibiotic that can help fight and prevent fungal infection.
Calamine lotion is another great remedy that can be used at home to offer relief for the itching. The lotion is also rich in microbial properties that help speed up the healing process. Since it helps keep your breast and nipples dry, calamine lotion will help reduce chances of an infection.
Cornstarch to alleviate itching
Another simple remedy that can help get rid of the itching and alleviate the burning sensation is cornstarch. When applied on the skin, it will help keep the skin dry, this way you are able to prevent fungal and yeast infection that might infect your nipples.
Available naturally, aloe Vera is a strong anti-inflammatory, anti-itching and antibiotic agent. The gel is also antiseptic and contain lots of other microbial properties. When applied on an itchy nipple, aloe Vera will help offer relief for the itching, burning sensation and dryness that might be causing it to crack.
To use aloe Vera, you need:
- Pluck afresh aloe Vera leave
- Wash it and cut it length wise
- You can rub the cut leave directly on the nipples or squeeze the gel first before applying it again.
Sources and references
- Itchy nipples symptoms: http://www.healthline.com/symptom/nipple-itching
- Breast cancer causing nipples to itch: http://www.healthcentral.com/breast-cancer/c/78/67127/nipple-issues/
- What you need to know about itchy nipples: https://www.bustle.com/articles/47910-why-your-nipples-are-itchy-and-everything-else-you-need-to-know-about-your-headlights
- Itchy nipples: http://www.webmd.boots.com/women/guide/itchy-nipple
- How to get rid of itching breast: http://www.top10homeremedies.com/how-to/how-to-get-rid-of-rash-under-breasts.html
- Treatment and prevention of itchy nipples: http://www.phaa.com/itchy-breasts-causes-treatment-and-prevention.htm