Nipple problems can be caused due to some illness and/or irritants that are present in the environment. Such problems can occur in both men and women and they may occur due to a variety of causes. Some of the causes that may cause nipple problems include pregnancy, hypothyroidism, ecstasia or widening of the milk ducts, pituitary gland tumor, injury to the breast tissue, infections, small, noncancerous or benign tumors and Paget’s disease of the breast. A person may experience unnecessary discharge from the breasts due to unusual pressure on his/her chest or due to a severe injury. Excessive friction may also cause nipples to become sore, irritated or cracked.
Itchiness of the nipples can be caused due to a number of reasons. Pregnancy can cause changes in hormone levels, expansion of breasts and increased blood flow to the nipples and this may cause nipple problems in women. A person can also suffer from nipple or areola dermatitis due to eczema or other causes. Breast-feeding women are the most susceptible to eczema. Sometimes the fungus Candida albicans may cause a woman to suffer from a fungal infection of the nipples. A person may also suffer from a condition called jogger’s nipple or runner’s nipple if he/she experiences irritation due to clothing rubbing against the nipples during some physical activities.
Treating nipple problems involve identification of the cause that is causing the problem. So there are different treatment options.
A person needs to take appropriate medications to treat nipple problems due to any infection. Nipple problems due to a bacterial infection will require treatment with antibiotics. Again, a person suffering from fungal infection like candidiasis will have to take an antifungal medicine. A person suffering from nipple problems due to the presence of a small but non-cancerous tumor may require going to the doctor on a regular basis. Ecstasia or swollen milk ducts usually gets resolved on its own. However, a doctor may surgically remove the swollen milk ducts if a person suffers from this condition continuously. Nipple problems can also occur due to lack of thyroid hormones in the body. Lack of such hormones can cause the normal balance of chemical reactions to get upset. However, this condition can be treated with the help of a prescription medicine which will help to replace the hormones.
Pituitary tumor, which can cause nipple problems, can be treated with the help of two medications like bromocriptine and cabergoline. Sometimes radiation therapy may also be necessary to treat such a tumor. A person may have tumors in the nipple or may have tumors all over the breast if she is suffering from Paget’s disease of the breast. If the tumors are concentrated only in the nipple, the person will require undergoing surgery to remove the areola and nipple and also will have to take radiation treatment. If the tumors are spread all over the breast, the person may require undergoing mastectomy to remove the entire breast.
A person who has nipple discharge without any apparent reason I eligible for the treatment. The fluid discharge may appear o be clear, yellow, milky, green or even bloody. Other symptoms that may make a person eligible for treatment are irritation, cracking, bleeding and soreness of the nipples or if the nipples have changed their shape. A person should be diagnosed by a doctor by be suffering from this condition to be eligible for the treatment.
A doctor will enquire about the medications that a person is on, whether there has been any change in the person’s diet, whether the person is pregnant or if her nipples have got irritated due to some recent activity before diagnosing her with suffering from nipple problems. A person is not eligible if a doctor has not diagnosed him to be suffering from such. Some of the tests that may help a person to understand whether she is eligible for treatment or not include ductography, skin biopsy, mammogram, MRI scan, thyroid hormone test or CT scan.
Mammography used to treat nipple problems exposes a person to some amount of radiation. So a person should always be aware of the side-effects of radiation. A person generally suffers from acute symptoms during the treatment phase of radiation therapy. However, other side-effects include fatigue, skin reactions and other effects specific to the area under treatment may be experienced by a person. Other symptoms of radiation therapy include general weakness and tiredness. Antihistamines, which are used to treat eczema of the nipples, can have side-effects like drowsiness, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, restlessness or moodiness, confusion, dry mouth or blurred vision.
Wearing properly fitting clothes while exercising or working out will help a person to avoid nipple problems. Women who run or do horseback riding should wear a well-fitted sports bra. Men, who are suffering from nipple problems, should wear a snug undershirt before indulging in physical activities. Applying products to prevent chafing may also help to deal with nipple problems. It may also be beneficial if a person applies moisturizer to keep the nipples moist.
Mammoplasty or breast reduction surgery will require a person to take a week off from active life. It normally takes a person about 10-14 days to recover from the effects of this surgical procedure. Physical activity should be avoided for a period of about 1 month. The recovery period for a person suffering from nipple problem depends on the cause of the ailment.
Mammoplasty generally costs in between Rs 85000 and Rs 110000. Anti-fungal medications can something in between Rs 640 to Rs 1600. A tablet of cabgolin, that is used to treat nipple problems due to pituitary gland is approximately Rs 273 per pill. A single pill of dostinex which is also used for a similar purpose can be purchased for Rs 225. Antibiotics are available within a price range of Rs 10-Rs 40 for a single tablet.
A person may suffer from an injury to his/her chest or breast and this may cause him/her to suffer from nipple problems even after that person has undergone treatment for the same. Pregnancy or some infection may also cause a person to suffer from nipple problem. Thus there is not always a permanent solution.
A pregnant woman can use her own breast milk to treat sore, cracked, blistering or bleeding nipples. Sore nipples can also be treated by applying a warm compress. Other natural methods that help to treat nipple problems include massaging with oil, use of aloe vera, basil leaves and ice. Calendula, tea-tree oil, chamomile and Vitamin C also help to deal with nipple problems.
Galactorrhea is not a disease per se, but more of an underlying medical condition or a symptom that involves discharge of a milky fluid from the nipples, which is not the breast milk. It becomes especially crucial owing to the similarity of the two, when breastfeeding the baby is concerned. It may happen even while you are not lactating or not even pregnant, mostly in menopausal women. Strangely, the syndrome has also shown to have occurred to men and children, irrespective of gender.
What are the contributing factors to the development of Galactorrhea?
Various symptoms of Galactorrhea include:
When you experience a nipular discharge, the most common tests you should undergo include a pregnancy test, prolactin level exam, mammography, ultrasounds, even an MRI for the pituitary gland evaluation. Based on the result, your physician prescribes the required medicines or advises you to stop taking a particular medicine that might be causing this discharge in the first place.
In case you have a concern or query you can always consult an expert & get answers to your questions!
Nipple discharge is a common part of breast functioning, which normally occurs during breast-feeding or pregnancy. It is often associated with the changes of menstrual hormone. The milky discharge post breast-feeding usually continues for up to two years after stopping nursing. The condition normally gets resolved on its own but if the situation persists for a long time resort to medical assistance.
The following are some of the causes of normal nipple discharge:
- Stimulation: Normal nipple discharge can arise due to stimulation; chafing of your breast skin due to tight bras or vigorous exercises.
- Pregnancy: Most women tend to witness clear nipple discharge in the early stages of their pregnancy. Towards the later stages, this discharge usually turns watery and becomes milky in color
- Stopped Breast-feeding: In some cases, nipple discharge continues for some time after the mother has stopped breast-feeding her newborn
- Hormonal Imbalance: Some women notice tenderness in breasts and nipple discharge during their menstrual cycle
What is an abnormal nipple discharge?
An abnormal nipple discharge is usually bloody in color and is accompanied with tenderness of the breast. Papilloma is a non-cancerous tumor that is often responsible for bloody nipple discharge. Continuous nipple discharge from one of the breasts or nipple discharge that arises without any stimulation or external irritation is abnormal in nature.
The possible causes of abnormal nipple discharge include:
1. Abscess- It is an assortment of pus that get accumulated within the tissues of your body. It is usually accompanied by redness, pain and swelling. Boils and carbuncles are types of abscess. Formation of abscess in breasts may result in nipple discharge.
2. Breast cancer- Breast cancer often results in bloody nipple discharge and is often found with a presence of lump in one of the breasts.
5. Fibroadenoma- In this situation most young women witness an appearance of solid, tumor like structure
6.Galactorrhea- Galactorrhea is nipple discharge of milk when not pregnant or breastfeeding. The discharge can vary in color and can be expressed from either or both breasts.
What Causes Galactorrhea?
Galactorrhea is commonly caused by hyperprolactinemia, especially when it is associated with amenorrhea. Hyperprolactinemia is most often induced by medication or associated with pituitary adenomas or other sellar or suprasellar lesions.
The release of prolactin from the pituitary is held in check by dopamine from the hypothalamus. Prolactin release is encouraged by serotonin and thyrotropin-releasing hormone. This balance can be disrupted by medication (ie. antipsychotics), underactive thyroid function, pituitary tumors, hypothalamic tumors, damage to the pituitary stalk, nipple stimulation, chest trauma, herpes zoster, and emotional stress as well as a variety of other factors. If you wish to discuss about any specific problem, you can consult a Gynaecologist.