Why do my nipples hurt?

Actually, male subjective sensations in the nipples is not a rare case as it may seem. Most often pain, itching or symptoms of inflammation are the signs of serious disorders which require intensive treatment. Sometimes pain in the nibble is the first and the only symptom of pathology.


This disorder is related to the enlargement of the mammary glands (one or both) in men. This may be a false pathology (growth of fatty tissue) and true pathology (growth of glandular and connective tissue).

Causes of the disease:

  1. Hormonal disorders (high level of female hormones, low level of male hormones);
  2. Genetic or congenital defects;
  3. Long-term use of certain medicines;
  4. Use of anabolic steroids;
  5. Liver and thyroid dysfunction.

Additionally to mammary gland enlargement which may be hardly noticeable (2 cm) and prominent (up to 15 cm) the symptoms of the disease are the following:

  • Tightness and compression in the chest;
  • Nipple pain in men;
  • Feeling of heaviness;
  • Erectile dysfunction;
  • Infertility.

The choice of the treatment to remove the main defect depends on the origin of the disease. It may be both a conservative and surgical treatment. Drugs and other medications are effective only case it has not passed over half a year since the onset of the disease. If this is a long-term condition, then an operation for removing a mammary gland is indicated. Despite a positive tendency, this disease poses the risk for breast cancer. For this reason, it is very important to find the cause of nipple pains in men to exclude or prevent malignant tumor.

Paget disease

In ICD this condition is referred to as cancer of the nipple. This is a very rare disease affecting both men and women over the age of 60. Paget disease is characterized by an indurated change of a nipple in men. The disease develops slowly and this increases the probability to detect it on the early stages, and even though the tumor is malignant, the prognosis may be favorable for a patient. There are still disputes on the factors causing this type of cancer. This is considered to be a disease with unknown pathogenesis. However we can not ignore some general factors determining predisposition to the disease:

  1. Hereditary background;
  2. Radiation exposure;
  3. High level of free radicals in the body;
  4. Bad habits (smoking, alcohol, drugs);
  5. Food rich in additives;
  6. Some chemicals absorbed into the body.

The first signs of the nipples affected by the disease appear immediately and it enables to make an early diagnosis. Symptoms of the Paget disease:

  • Itchy nipples in men;
  • Areola skin flaking;
  • Edema and redness (swollen nipple in men);
  • Enlargement of several groups of lymphatic nodules, especially underarms;
  • Areola erosion;
  • Pain which is aggravated with time;
  • Bloody nipple discharge (not necessarily occurs).

With progression of the disease, tissues of the glands grow very fast capturing surrounding tissues and forming metastases. If you found, at least, one of the mentioned symptoms, especially pain, visit an oncology specialist immediately.

Treatment of the disease is the same as typical cancer therapy. It includes surgical interference, chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Depending on the stage of the disease, the choice of effective treatment will be different, sometimes a combination of treatment methods is used. It is a well-known fact that the most effective cancer treatment is on the early stages of the disease. If a man noticed a nipple inflammation, the earlier he takes all the necessary measures, the better chances to avoid radical surgery and the development of metastases.

Mondor’s disease

This is a very rare condition affecting both sexes. It is characterized by superficial thrombophlebitis localized on the lateral chest wall in the form of fibrous band. This disease is often confused with breast cancer and it prevents proper diagnosis.

Mondor’s disease may be idiopathic by character which means that it develops without any evident reasons.

A theory exists that thrombophlebitis develops because of the constant skin irritation leading to blood congestion in veins.

Another assumption is that this condition is related to mammary gland and surrounding areas traumas of various types as well as superficial skin damages (scratches, ulcers). Among the possible reasons a surgical interference is distinguished and it is notable that  thrombophlebitis may occur on the opposite side.

For Mondor’s disease only local symptoms are characteristic:

  • Pain in the affected area reflecting in underarms, upper abdomen, nipples;
  • Visually under the skin one can notice a fibrous band which is usually matted together with the skin and nothing connects it with deeper layers;
  • Shrink and tightened skin above the affected area.

Prognosis is usually favorable and often patients undergo outpatient treatment. Such vessel damage does not provoke complications but it can occur simultaneously with diseases of the mammary gland.

Hormonal conditions caused by orchiopathy, hypophisis, adrenal glands

Any disorder related to the glands dysfunction leads to a hormonal imbalance. Depending on the severity of organ injury, during hormonal changes people may remain asymptomatic or develop numerous pathologies.

The glands produce sex hormones (testosterone in men). Any dysfunction will result in the reduction of testosterone level in blood and, consequently, will lead to the higher level of female sex hormones (estrogen). Alongside the symptoms of the main disease, some other symptoms may appear depending on the functional state of the glands.

General signs of feminization, such as secondary sexual characteristics, female-type obesity, infertility, will appear lately, on late stages of hormonal imbalance. Pain and edema around the nipples will be the very first manifestations and they require special attention.

After curing the main disease, endocrine profile returns to its normal state. If a complete recovery of a patient is unachievable, hormonal therapy is used.

Traumas and infections

Any traumas of the mammary gland in men cause painful sensations in the nipples. It may be consequences of blows resulting in injuries, cuts, scratches etc. After the healing, pain and discomfort disappear.

Any trauma and Mondor’s disease may be complicated by an infection. Pathogenic bacteria penetrate through the injured skin. In case with  thrombophlebitis infection occurs because of necrosis when the disease is neglected. On the affected nipple a purulent inflammation occurs which is accompanied by the sensation of pain. Visually this condition is similar to mastitis and for a doctor it is very important to distinguish between these two nosologies. Treatment includes local disinfection and antibacterial therapy. The use of antibiotics is indicated only in neglected cases.