Whether surprising or not, men are just as likely to experience pain, discomfort, discharge and soreness in their breasts and nipples as women. However, due to the delicacy of the particular area, men may be hesitant to consult with a doctor. Nipple and breast pain can result from a number of different issues which include wearing clothing that irritates or cancer. However, whether reluctant or not, there are certain symptoms to look out for in order to know when to see a doctor for more serious issues.
What Causes Male Nipple Pain?
Soreness in the nipples for men is not limited to a particular age group or population. In most cases, nipple soreness in men is not serious. On the other hand, there are instances in which this pain and soreness is a symptom of a condition which needs to be addressed by a doctor.
Friction as a cause of male nipple soreness most commonly comes about from the persistent rubbing of the nipples against the fabric of the shirt during running and other exercise. For this reason it is also called runner’s nipple. This is most likely if the top is close-fitting and non-lycra based.
2. Hormone Imbalance
Imbalances in the levels of testosterone and estrogen can result in more than normal swelling in the breasts. This is referred to as a gynecomastia. This also causes the nipples to become sore and occurs in newborns, teen boys and older men.
In many cases, lumps beneath the nipple are actually benign cysts. These usually result from chronic infections and are likely to be very tender and painful. They are commonly confused with soreness in the ribs below the breastplate which can happen in people with arthritis. Any lumps felt in the breasts should be examined by a doctor.
4. Liver Damage
Liver damage which results from alcohol abuse is another common cause of male nipple pain. The damage to this vital organ causes excess fat to be stored in the chest, beneath the breasts as well as in abdomen. Both areas tend to become painful as a result of the fat.
Mastitis describes the condition when the breast tissue becomes infected by bacteria. This tends to happen when normally harmless bacteria on the surface of the skin get inside the breast tissue through cracks in the skin around the nipples or when the skin has been broken with a nipple piercing. The infection causes the breast to become swollen, painful and tender.
The use of certain over the counter and prescribed medications can cause breast pain. For examples, diuretics and methyldopa which are used to treat hypertension often result in pain and tenderness in the nipples. Steroids can also lead to these discomforts as they cause the breasts to get larger which can make them sore.
Several other causes of male nipple pain are possible:
- In fat necrosis, fat cells are destroyed as a result of trauma, radiation, surgery or as a symptom of pancreatic or kidney disease. When this happens in the breast region, the area will appear lumpy and be painful;
- A discharge may appear from the nipples which could either be benign or more serious;
- Nipple pain may arise if there has been an injury because of sports or work-related duties;
- A pain in your chest, ribs, muscles or spine may feel like breast pain.
How to Deal With Male Nipple Pain
If you are experiencing pain in your breast you should first do an examination of the area to find out the exact source of the issue. If you notice any bruising then you can treat this immediately with acetaminophen, aspirin, or hot or cold packs. For more serious conditions such as a cyst, mastitis or a fibro adenoma, you should consult your doctor for a thorough examination. You may also require medication or surgery to treat the condition effectively.
Deal With Friction-Induced Male Nipple Pain
Nipple pain that is caused by exercise, also called runner’s nipple, can be treated using the following measures. Coating the nipples with a lubricant such as BodyGlide or Vaseline should make you comfortable for a long run. Other men find it helpful to completely cover the nipples using Band-Aids or Nip Guards. You can get greater comfort during long runs if you wear clothes made of synthetic materials such as Dri-Fit, which fits you closely. Try to avoid cotton.
When to See a Doctor
Several causes of nipple pain such as a sports injury, hormone imbalance, or muscle strain, usually heal on their own or with home remedies. However, if you find a lump in your breast you should always consult a doctor. In the cases of alcohol abuse which has led to liver damage, it will be necessary to get professional help in order to overcome a drinking habit.
When Is Nipple Pain Correlated with Breast Cancer?
It is true that breast cancer in males is quite rare. However, there are instances in which the pain being felt in the breasts is as a result of this rare occurrence. Here are some signs of breast cancer that you should be aware of:
- Thickening breast tissue or a painless lump
- Obvious changes in the skin of the breast such as redness, dimpling, scaling or puckering
- Changes to the color, shape and size of the nipple
- Any discharge coming from the nipple