One symptom is all it takes for Google to turn into the deepest of rabbit holes.
When you hear someone else talk about their nipples itching you may brush it off as a small, ‘will-go-away-soon’ pest, rather than a symptom of something more serious. But, if it’s you who has the itchy nipples, the ability to brush it off as just a nuisance may be a little more difficult.
The key to not panicking over itchy nipples is to first understand the different conditions, or changes in your lifestyle, that can cause them. Next is to follow up with a doctor if the itchiness is getting progressively worse or is accompanied by any other symptoms.
To give those itchy nipples a bit more context, here are 4 reasons why your nipples may be itching.
Your nipples are just as sensitive as the rest of the skin on your body. If you’ve recently changed your fragrance, detergent, lotion or anything else you put on your body, don’t rule out the possibility of contact dermatitis. According to MayoClinic, “Some people react to strong irritants after a single exposure. Others may develop signs and symptoms after repeated exposures to even mild irritants. And some people develop a tolerance to the substance over time.” So, just because your favorite lotion didn’t cause a reaction the first time you exposed your skin to it, doesn’t mean you should rule it out as the reason for your itchy nipples.
In ways that contact allergic reactions may be temporary or go away by swapping out the allergen, or taking some allergy medicine — eczema is a bit more persistent. Eczema is an umbrella term for various types of skin conditions, often characterized by dry, itchy skin and rashes. While some types of eczema are triggered by environmental irritants, the condition can also be chronic and hereditary. A visit to your doctor can help you get answers on both a diagnosis and ideal treatment plan.
More boob, more problems. Or at least that’s one way to describe how your boobs growing due to pregnancy can lead to itchy nipples. See, the stretching that happens during your pregnancy-induced boob growth can actually irritate the skin around the nipples and cause itching. Parents.com shares a big tip in offsetting pregnancy itch — moisturize! “Slathering on a cocoa butter or vitamin E body lotion after showering can keep your skin supple and prevent itching. It’s also a good idea to avoid wearing potentially irritating fabrics like wool or cashmere blends.”
Paget disease of the nipple
Here’s where Googling ‘itchy nipples’ could really trigger some major fear. According to the National Cancer Institute, one of the symptoms of Paget disease is itchy nipples. The disease itself is “a rare type of cancer involving the skin of the nipple” — with less than 5% of all breast cancer cases being Paget disease of the nipple. Oftentimes the outer symptoms — itchy nipples, flattened nipple, thickened skin around the nipple, or discharge from the nipples — are accompanied by a tumor inside the breast. The symptoms are also those shared by other less life-threatening conditions, like eczema, so the key to a correct diagnosis is to be diagnosed by a doctor.