Why Are My Nipples Always Hard? 12 Possible Reasons

Healthwise
9 Min Read

Experiencing hard nipples can happen anywhere, in your room, outdoor, and even in unexpected places. If you don’t know why it happens, you may be a little worried. But the good news is, hard nipples are normal from time to time and it is rarely a symptom of cancer or any serious disease.

It is normal for nipples to get rigid during certain activities such as sports. Sometimes it might be perky when we get cold and also it might become erect during sexual activities.

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There are other possible causes. Here, we explore some common causes of a hard nipple, the symptoms, management, and also when to see the doctor.

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Before we look at these tips here is a table of what you should expect:

Reasons Why Nipples Are Hard

Nipples can be hard for so many reasons, but there are more possible reasons it can occur.

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1. Sports and exercise

Exercise can cause friction and pain to the nipples. Friction against the nipple might make you have pointy nipples, hard nipples, or even sore nipples. This type of friction can cause dryness, bleeding, and irritation.

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You can avoid this friction by getting a better sports bra, using non-chaffing balms like vaseline, and also covers applied to the nipple area before you exercise. There might be strong and forceful friction during sexual activity, including intense oral stimulation that can cause a nipple to be tender, sore, and hard.

You can also experience an erect nipple when you have a sexually arousing thought. It is usually temporary and will likely resolve on its own.

2. Pregnancy

Soreness and tenderness in the nipple area are some of the major symptoms of pregnancy. It happens during the first trimester and it may also occur in the third. Your breast becomes bigger and heavier during this period, you might also experience dark nipples.

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Read: When Do I Start Showing In First Pregnancy

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3. Sensitivities or allergies

Nipples are very sensitive and will react differently to stimuli. Changes in weather conditions, some certain fabrics including wool can cause pain and itching in the nipple.

Lotions, soaps, laundry detergents, and shower gels can trigger allergic reactions. Allergies and sensitivity can also cause the nipples to appear red, rash, and chapped.

4. Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding can cause a condition called mastitis, which is not very common among women. The symptoms of mastitis are pain, swelling, and itching of the nipple, it might also cause an inversion of the nipple.

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It will likely go away with antibiotics though sometimes it might be hard, it can also be resolved through surgical operations.

A hard nipple during breastfeeding can be a sign of mastitis. Your baby might have a hard time finding your nipple because they are flat or inverted, that’s why women with big nipples and or erect nipples have a good advantage when breastfeeding.

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Read: Polythelia (Third Nipple): Types, Causes, and Removal

It is a good idea to keep your nipples dry and clean and also applying a lanolin cream between feedings can help the skin to retain moisture.

5. Medications

Certain medications are known to cause nipple reactions. Some medication prescribed for depression [Antidepressants] like MAOIs and SSRIs has been linked to hard nipples, nipple discharge, and nipple pains.

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Some herbal remedies can also cause harmless breast discharge in some women especially herbal remedies that are used to promote milk flow and help digestion problems.

6. Breast abscess

When a nipple is cracked or pierced, bacteria enter the nipple which causes a buildup of pus leading to a breast abscess. It is a very painful condition that triggers a strong nipple. Some symptoms of a breast abscess include:

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  • Fever
  • Lack of energy
  • Tender and painful breasts
  • Muscle pain

Small abscesses can be drained with a needle or a syringe, while severe ones require an incision. It can only be done by a healthcare professional.

7. Breast Cancer

Nipple hardness and pain in the nipple rarely signal breast cancer but this and other symptoms can indicate the presence of the disease. Other symptoms of breast cancer include:

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8. Change in Temperature

Sometimes it seems we have absolutely no control over our nipple when there is a change in temperature.

Cold weather causes you to have a perky nipple or even cold nipples because a drop in temperature stimulates special nerve cells in your nipple. Hot weather doesn’t seem to have the same reactions as our nipples.

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9. Piercings

Your nipple become less or highly sensitive when they have been pierced. It causes hard nipples more often than you can think. Piercings might tend to look cool but they come with some risk. Bacteria can enter your breast from the hole created by the piercing.

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10. Menstrual Cycle

Nipple soreness and tenderness tend to occur when the progesterone increases. These level rises about a week before a period begins [Prementrual syndrome [PMS]] and also occur the week your period ends [Postmenstrusl syndrome].

During this period, your nipple might become hard and you may experience changes in your mood. Other symptoms you might experience include:

  • Acne
  • Bloating
  • Lack of energy
  • Cramp
  • Constipation
  • Tiredness
  • Muscle pain
  • Food craving

11. Perimenopause and Menopause

As a woman goes through perimenopause, breast and nipples become sore and tender. This is because estrogen levels decline as you get closer to menopause. It causes hard nipples because of the changes in your breast.

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How Can I Hide My Hard Nipples?

Some people don’t care or feel embarrassed by the look of their nipples through clothing, while many people prefer to keep them covered and not noticeable especially those who have pointy nipples.

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If you want your nipple to stay hidden, you could try wearing padded bras or using nipple covers or band-aids. You could also use clothing as an advantage, wear a top that’s made of thick or loose fabric to prevent clinging.

How Can I Treat My Hard Nipples At Home?

Many home treatments have been used to ease big hard nipples, long hard nipples, hard nipples, sore and painful nipples. These include:

There is no evidence that these home remedies are consistently useful but may provide relief.

If you experience a hard nipple after exercising, you can apply a barrier product designed for athletes to the nipples, it will help reduce the friction.

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Do I Need To See A Doctor If I Experience A Hard Nipple?

Experiencing hard nipples can totally be normal from time to time and sometimes there’s no explanation for it.

But if a hard nipple comes with other symptoms like discharge or soreness, you should visit a doctor to ensure there isn’t any serious issue at play.

Read: How Can I Test for Diabetes at Home?

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Image: Canva

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