What To Do When Your Nipples Won’t Stop Itching

Photographed by Ashley Armitage.
Nipples are a pretty amazing part of the body. They can be so sensitive that playing with them can lead to a “nipplegasm.” They can be teased with different kinds of sex toys. They can look cool with a piercing. They can feed babies. They can even serve as lipstick inspiration. But on the downside, nipples can also get itchy. And while usually, itchy nipples don’t indicate a serious health concern, they can still be really annoying.
Angela Jones, MD, the ob/gyn behind AskDrAngela.com, explains that there are several reasons why nipples could feel itchy. First, skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis can affect the sensitive skin on your nipples as well as the rest of the body. “These are a lot more common than folks think, and nipples are no exception,” Dr. Angela explains. If you have a skin condition and are experiencing itchy nipples, your dermatologist can advise you. Another factor? Dry skin, especially in the winter. To alleviate this, make sure you’re staying hydrated, and try using a heavy moisturizer on your nipples.
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Nipples can also be irritated by certain soaps and laundry detergents. “Just as with the vagina, less is more when dealing with our nipples. You’ll want to avoid things that have a lot of deodorants, perfumes,” says Dr. Angela. Similarly, certain types of materials, such as wool, can lead to itchy nipples — as can bras. “We’ll start with the sports bra that you wear during exercise. The friction, moisture, sweat can serve as a nipple irritant and hence cause itching,” Dr. Angela explains. “How about just your plain ole, regular bra in general? Ever wear a bra too long? As in not having washed it for a while?” If your nipples are itching, it might be time to wash your bras.
Breastfeeding parents may also experience nipple itching or irritation because of dried-up milk. Some people also experience itchy nipples during pregnancy or as the result of other hormonal changes. While uncomfortable, this itchiness isn’t a cause for concern.
Occasionally, itchy nipples are a symptom of a more serious health concern, such as breast cancer. However, Dr. Angela says that if you’re only experiencing itchiness, this is unlikely. “If this were the culprit, there would typically be other symptoms associated with your nipple itchiness, such as changes in the architecture of the surrounding skin, pain or tenderness, or nipple inversion,” she explains.
If your nips just won't stop itching, you can first try to get rid of whatever is irritating them: avoid itchy materials, wash your bras, use unscented soaps and deodorants, wash and moisturize your nipples, and drink more water. “If none of these things help, or if you are just concerned, you are always correct to see your friendly ob/gyn or dermatologist,” Dr. Angela says.
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