Skip to main content

Nipple sensitivity

Nipple sensitivity

Tips for your nips 



Sore nipples or pain can manifest as aches, tenderness, and burning sensations. Sometimes, it can also be associated with general breast pain. Both nipple sensitivity and pain are common, happen to most of us at some point, and can be due to a variety of reasons. It’s usually not a cause for alarm and can be treated or minimized based on what the trigger was. 

So what causes nipple sensitivity?

1. Hormones

The most common reason for sore nipples is hormones. More often than not, ovulation can cause sensitivity. Typically, it’s due to pregnancy or changes in your menstrual cycle as increased estrogen levels can cause breasts to enlarge during your period.


2. Pregnancy 

Speaking of pregnancy, breast and nipple pain can be an early indicator. During pregnancy, there’s an increase in progesterone and prolactin, causing them to swell in size. Blood flow to the breasts also increases during pregnancy, preparing them for breastfeeding but also making them more sensitive.


3. Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding more often than not leads to dry, cracked, and sore nipples. There are things you can do to minimize or prevent the pain, such as making sure your baby has latched properly and regularly applying ointments to the nipples. Cooling gel packs can also soothe inflamed or painful nipples caused by breast-feeding.


4. Infection

Other times, nipple sensitivity might be due to infection, commonly diagnosed as periductal mastitis. This is when the nipple becomes inflamed and tender. Smoking increases the chances of infection as smoke can cause damage to the nipple ducts. Yeast infections could also be causing infection with symptoms of irritation and redness. 


5. Friction

For all you runners, a good sports bra is key to reducing nipple chafing. It’s also important to wash them frequently as the moisture and sweat provide the perfect breeding ground for bacteria to thrive. But even when there’s no running involved, friction irritation can lead to nipple pain, mainly from bras that don't fit well. To combat friction burns, apply moisturizer and give them time to heal.


6. Allergies

Nipples are often the first place on our bodies that get irritated by new allergies to everyday items. This can be anything from soaps, detergents, or lotions that end up causing redness or itching. A topical anti-inflammatory cream can treat minor cases, but a person should speak to a doctor if the rash or redness increases, spreads, and does not respond to an over-the-counter treatment.


7. Skin conditions 

If you’re prone to skin conditions like eczema, dermatitis, psoriasis, or general allergies, you may also get atopic dermatitis (eczema) on your nipples and areolas. 


8. Sex

Nipples are erogenous zones with heightened sensitivity. Some women can have an orgasm solely through nipple stimulation. But just like friction and breastfeeding, nipple play during sex can lead to irritation and even pain. Usually, it’s short-lived and goes away after some time, Moisturizer is your best friend helpful during the healing process.


9. Breast cancer

In rare cases, eczema-like rashes around the nipple can be an indicator of Paget's disease which is associated with breast cancer. If you’re worried, consult your doctor who can conduct a biopsy or a mammogram to rule out any suspicions. 

How can you stop your nipples from hurting?

  • Hydrocortisone can suppress inflammation and itchiness
  • Emollients, creams, and ointments soothe the skin and prevent dryness
  • Lifestyle changes like cutting back on smoking 

In most cases, nipple pain is completely normal and nothing to worry about. However, if you’re worried or your symptoms don’t improve within two weeks or keep recurring, you should consult your doctor to discuss diagnosis and the correct treatment.