Sore nipples are a common issue among women of all ages. It can occur anytime from puberty to after menopause. There could be many reasons    behind swollen and painful breasts. If you are having pain in your nipple area, and wondering that“why do my nipples hurt”, don’t worry, you are not alone!

Discomfort in nipples can result from activities causing mild surface abrasion, like doing certain physical exercises without wearing a bra, breastfeeding, wearing an overly tight bra, or getting engaged into any physical movement that produces friction on the breast.

There can be many reasons that may cause your nipples hurt.

Friction against the breast skin

  • The most common cause of pain in nipple area is friction against the breast skin. Symptoms may include dryness, bleeding, soreness or irritation. If you are a long distance runner or spend excessive time on physical exercises, you would be more prone to nipple pain. Always wear a suitably fitted bra made of synthetic fiber.

Sensitivity or Allergy

  • Sensitivity or allergy could be another reason. Your body might react to certain conditions like hot or cold weather, shower soap or gel, lotions, laundry detergent or woolen clothing. Sensitivity symptoms include redness, itching or chapping.

Why do my nipples hurt during breastfeeding

  • If you are a breastfeeding mother, there are fairly high chances that your nipples would hurt. If this happens, you have to review the basics of latch and positioning. It is possible that initially, you may not feel any pain during the breastfeeding. However, as the baby gets older, she starts nursing in different positions, causing nipple soreness on one or both sides. Improving the positioning/latching can help relieving the pain even if breastfeeding is not the primary cause of pain. For instance, many women suffer from nipple pain during pregnancy due to hormonal changes. Good latch and positioning can enhance the nipple soreness to a limited extent.
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Why do my nipples hurt during Pregnancy? 

  • Nipple pain has been traditionally considered as an early symptom of pregnancy. When you are pregnant, progesterone and estrogen levels start increasing on a continuous basis, causing nipples become more painful and sensitive. It also results in breast enlargement by escalating the breast tissue amount, whereas, high progesterone level fills the breasts with water, preparing the breast for lactation.


  • One possible reason could be milk blister, plugged duct or mastitis, especially when only one nipple or breast area is hurting. It is quite rare to have milk blister, plugged duct or mastitis on both nipples at one time.


  • It is quite common to have an injury during breastfeeding, when baby pulls the nipples, scrapes his teeth, or bites hard. Any of such incident causes pain and soreness on one or both sides of nipples. You are advised to apply appropriate lotion as the broken skin can be prone to serious bacterial infection.

Disturbance in Menstrual Cycle

  • Another possible reason could be the hormonal changes in your body. Nipple discomfort or pain is common among women when their monthly cycle starts. It is triggered by variations in levels of progesterone and estrogen.

Various females feel nipple irritation or pain during or immediately after the periods. The easy cure is to reduce the salt content in your food during the menstrual cycle. It will work within a few days by reducing the soreness and relieving the pain.

Puberty and Breast Development

  • Breast development is considered as the early signs of puberty. It involves the great hormonal changes and growth in a girl’s body. The fat tissue and breast glands start developing, and as a result, nipple begins expanding and swelling.

Such physical and hormonal variations cause the nipples and breasts to become painful and sensitive. There could be intense nipple pain during the first menstrual period.

Overly fitted bra

  • A wrong selection of bra could also be a culprit for the nipple pain. Your nipples would bear the costs of wearing too small or too big bra.
  • Vigorous friction or rubbing during a sexual activity can also trigger the nipple pain. However, in most of the cases, the pain is momentary and heals on its own. Application of moisturizer antiseptic, barrier gel can help in quick healing.

Fatty acids imbalance

  • Breast or nipple pain may also occur due to the fatty acids’ imbalance within cells that may stimulate the breast tissues to be more sensitive, causing pain in the nipple Imbalance of fatty acids can also disturb the hormonal level that can consequently increase the breast tenderness.

Some serious causes behind nipple pain

  • If you are having a continuous pain in your nipples and there are a visible redness and irritation in your nipple area, then you are advised to consult the doctor on an immediate It can be an early signal of breast cancer.You have to take this question into your serious consideration “why do my nipples hurt” as in various cases, the real culprit behind the pain is breast cancer.
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  • Other serious causes of nipple pain can be some health disorders like infections, inflammations or in the worst case, the “Paget’s disease,” which is known as a disease of nipples” and is classified as a rarest type of breast cancer. Itching, pain, soreness and redness around the nipple area are some characteristics of the Paget’s disease. Surgery is regarded as the most appropriate treatment for However, it depends on upon the level of severity. Surgery for Paget’s disease may entail radical mastectomy, a modified or simple mastectomy, or radiotherapy and lumpectomy.

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When to consult the doctor?

Usually, nipple pain doesn’t last for long and clears up in a couple of days. However, if your nipples are inflammatory, then it would seek more attention. You are advised to consult a doctor if any of these symptoms occur:

  • Open wounds or excessive cracking
  • Redness or heat in your nipples, on breast surface or breast tissues
  • One sided nipple pain
  • Chill or fevers
  • Changing, unusual or new lumps in your breast
  • Excessive nipple discharge or nipple abscess other than breastfeeding
  • Bloody or brown nipple discharge
  • Nipple bleeding

A persistent nipple pain requires serious consideration and seeks immediate medical care.


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