Have you ever been walking along, having a totally normal day, and suddenly your nipples feel itchy, it’s like you’re wearing a bra made of a 1000 nipples.
If your nipples are anything like mine, they don’t usually cause much trouble — they go along to get along, trooping around quietly in the bra until you need to unleash them for practical and/or recreational purposes — which might be why, when your nipples feel strange, it can sometimes be kind of terrifying.
That terror can easily turn into full-tilt panic: My first thoughts are ALWAYS could my itchy, dry nipples be a sign of something serious? Are these random hairs going to be here for the rest of my life? Why hast thou betrayed me, beloved headlights!
The shock of having a nipple feel weird is usually much worse than whatever’s actually going on with your nipple — because, for the most part, nipple weirdness is not a sign of a serious health problem. Anything having to do with my breasts can send me into breast cancer panic mode.
The most common nipple-related breast cancer symptoms are tenderness, dimpling, a change in skin texture on the nipple, and a suddenly inverted nipple (inverted nipples are common and harmless — a sudden inversion is the only cause for alarm.)
So what I’ve learned is that anything else that you feel: random itch, tingle, or drip — is most likely nothing to worry about.
If your nipples look or feel different than they usually do for a prolonged period of time, or if you’re just freaked out, it’s always a good idea to see a doctor.
First of all, itchy nipples are almost never a sign of a health problem. In rare cases, itchy nipples can be a symptom of inflammatory breast cancer or Paget disease of the breast, but itching is almost never the only symptom.
Run-of-the-mill itchy nipples have more benign causes: sometimes the itchiness is created by a skin condition, like eczema, but if you’re not experiencing a rash or other symptoms, odds are that your nipples are itchy because they’ve become irritated — by the laundry detergent or soap that you use, by friction in an ill-fitting bra, or by dry weather that’s making all of your skin dry and itchy.
Itchy nipples can also be a side effect of pregnancy-related breast growth — as a pregnant woman’s breasts expand, the stretching of the skin can irritate the nipple, leading to drying, cracking, and a persistent nipple itch.
Fortunately, itchy nipples are easy to treat, for pregnant and non-pregnant folks alike — just massage some non-irritating moisturizer into your nipple, especially right after you come out of the shower. The moisture should keep your nipples calm. But no matter how itchy your nips get, don’t put calamine lotion on them — that lotion can actually dry the skin of the nipple, and make the itching worse.
Question of the day: How do you handle the itchy nipple?
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