What Causes Dry and Itchy Nipples?

If you are experiencing a case of dry nipples, there are a number of measures you can take to remedy the problem. Itchy nipples cause a great deal of discomfort and may even be a pointer to something more serious. The possible reasons, treatment options available and when to seek medical intervention…all will be mentioned in this article.

Causes of Itchy and Dry Nipples

1. Environmental Factors

When it comes to environmental factors, the presence of chemicals is largely responsible. The chemicals found in bathing soaps or laundry detergents, in man-made fabrics or deodorants, and those found in swimming pools are largely responsible for the itch that comes about when your skin comes into contact with them.

Other environmental factors include extreme weather such as during the winter or the summer season. Extreme weather, exposure to the sun rays during sunbathing, or when one is exposed to a room with low humidity may cause dry skin.

2. Skin Conditions

The second culprit is skin conditions. There are several skin conditions that are responsible for itchy nipple:

  • Psoriasis-This is a condition that is marked by the build-up of dry and rough skin cells. This build-up can take place anywhere in the body and is characterized by the build-up of dry scaly skin.
  • Hypothyroidism-This is a skin condition that is characterized by the presence of dry skin, which is as a result of a lack of sweat gland/oil gland activity courtesy of a low thyroid hormone levels.
  • Other skin conditions that might possibly lead to an itchy nipple are eczema (caused by an overactive immune system) and contact dermatitis (a condition that makes the skin red or inflamed after contact with something one is allergic to or something that irritates the skin).

3. Pregnancy

Pregnancy is also largely responsible for cases of dry nipples in two significant ways. In the first scenario, a woman will have her breast skin stretched, especially around the areola since the breasts tend to increase in size to prepare the body for milk production. This stretching of the skin is accompanied by some degree of irritation.

In the second scenario, the irritation around the breast could be as a result of an infection during lactation-mastitis. There are two causes of mastitis, and the one that is responsible for an itching nipple is attributed to bacteria that infect a break in the skin/nipple during lactation, causing inflammation.

4. Breast Cancer: Paget's Disease

Cancer is also a possible cause. However, diagnosis should be done by a professional.  Possible symptoms of breast cancer include the presence of a lump in the breast, the build-up of scales around the areola and even fluid leakage. As this is the worst case scenario attributed to an itching nipple, the detection of any symptom should be reported immediately to a physician near you.  

Treatment Options for Itchy Nipples

You must want to know how to treat the itchy/dry nipples after you found out the underlying problem that contributes to your condition. The treatment options available are as follows:

  • Infections-If you are battling an infection, you have two options, either use an anti fungal cream if you are dealing with a fungal infection, or an anti-biotic if you are battling a bacterial infection.
  • Oiling-Regular oiling of the breasts is an option, more so if the cause of the itchiness can be attributed to dry skin that is borne of conditions such as psoriasis or extremes in weather.
  • Elimination-Elimination, in this case, refers to weeding out the culprit of your irritation. If the irritation is caused by a man-made dye, for instance, avoid man-made fibers. If the irritation is caused by an adverse reaction with a given food type, avoid the allergen altogether.
  • Medical interventions-The medical interventions include chemotherapy in cases where the leading cause of the irritation is cancer, to more moderate interventions such as regular monitoring by a physician in cases where the issue at hand is a benign tumor or an infection of the milk ducts.

Note: If you are losing the battle against dry nipple or itchy nipple despite applying all possible remedies, then it is time to see a doctor.