Bumps On The Areola – What Is Normal And What Is Not

bumps on your areola

Noticing bumps or lumps on your nipple or areola can be scary. In fact, any lumps or changes in your breast can be worrying as it can bring up the specter of cancer. But, sometimes, it can be completely normal to get bumps in this area. Let’s take a look at what’s normal and when a bump might indicate a medical issue.

Normal Bumps On Your Areolas Or Nipples

Here are some bumps that shouldn’t cause you any concern.


1. Breast Buds

One of the first signs of puberty in a girl is the development of a lump under either one or both the nipples. These nickel-sized lumps are known as breast buds and they are a normal part of growing up. They show up when girls are about 9 or 10 though this age can vary from person to person. A bump might appear under just one nipple first when one breast develops before the other. This can also feel a little sore. This is not usually something to worry about.

Do keep in mind, though, that you might need to get your child evaluated for precocious puberty if her breasts start to develop before 6–7 years of age.1


2. Montgomery Tubercles

Montgomery tubercles are a cluster of tiny oil glands that are present in the areola. These glands secrete oil which is meant to lubricate your nipple when you breastfeed.2 During the first trimester of pregnancy, along with the darkening and enlargement of your areolas, your Montgomery’s tubercles become more prominent. And you may find that they present as tiny white bumps on your areolas.3 This is a normal change and just your body’s way of preparing itself for the baby.

Medical Issues That Can Cause Bumps On Your Areola Or Nipples

Sometimes, a bump can be a sign of a medical condition.


1. Blocked Milk Duct

In women who are breastfeeding, the flow of milk can sometimes get obstructed and build up behind a milk duct, causing a spot or a tender lump to develop. Signs of a blocked milk duct include pain, warmth, and redness in a part of the breast, a lump that’s close to the skin, and a small, white pimple-like dot plugging the opening of the nipple. This usually happens if the baby is not feeding properly or you’re breastfeeding infrequently – for instance, when the baby is weaning. Blocked ducts can also develop if your bra is too tight.

What Can You Do About It?

  • Gently massage your breast and apply a little pressure to get rid of the plug. You can also apply a warm moist cloth to your nipple and try to scratch off the plug with a sterile needle so that milk can flow again.
  • Applying a cool cloth to your breast can be comforting.
  • Don’t stop breastfeeding and remember to express milk after feeding.
  • Do check in with your doctor if the blocked duct doesn’t clear within a day.4 5

2. Mastitis

Mastitis is a condition where your breast becomes inflamed and sore. This is mostly common when you’re breastfeeding and is then known as puerperal mastitis. In some instances, it can also occur when you’re not breastfeeding – known then as periductal mastitis. Puerperal mastitis usually develops when a milk duct is blocked. It is thought that milk leaks into the tissues nearby, leading to inflammation.

Periductal mastitis usually develops when the nipple gets infected, say, because of a nipple piercing or through cracked skin. Symptoms of mastitis can include a lump as well as redness and swelling in a part of the breast, pain, and a nipple discharge that might contain blood. You could also get a temperature, the chills, or feel tired.


What Can You Do About It?

It’s a good idea to see your doctor if you have mastitis as this condition can lead to a breast abscess (pus). Your doctor may prescribe antibiotics and draw out any pus that has collected using a fine needle. Meanwhile, here are some things that you can do to take care of yourself:

  • Don’t stop breastfeeding and remember to frequently drain your breast.
  • If you are a new mother, check that your baby is attaching properly as breastfeeding correctly can take a little practice.
  • Get plenty of rest and get enough fluids so that you’re not dehydrated.
  • Applying a cool pack can help with inflammation and pain.6 7 8

3. Yeast Infection

Candida is a yeast that lives in our bodies with causing any harm. But certain factors like a reduction in beneficial bacteria that check its growth can lead it to multiply excessively and cause an infection. Candida thrives on milk and it’s not unusual to get a yeast infection while you’re breastfeeding. Also, if your baby has a yeast infection in the mouth she may also pass it on to you while feeding. Painful nipples or shooting pains in your breast can be an indication of this condition., You might also see blisters, bumps, and flaking skin, along with cracked, itchy nipples that look red.

What Can You Do About It?


Your doctor may prescribe antifungal medication to clear up the infection. You also need to take certain measures to ensure that the infection doesn’t spread.

  • Wash your hands as well as your baby’s hands often.
  • Sterilize any clothing that’s in contact with the yeast – for instance, your bra, towels etc. Use water that’s above 122°F in temperature.
  • Boil things like pacifiers or toys that you baby puts in her mouth.
  • Since yeast infections can be very contagious, make sure that other family members are not infected. Get them treated if they have an infection.9

[Also Read: What Is Candida Infection]

4. Intraductal Papilloma

An intraductal papilloma is a non-cancerous growth in a milk duct. You may be able to feel a lump next to or behind your nipple. There may be a discharge from your nipple if you have this condition. Papillomas can also develop in ducts that are not close to the nipple. They don’t usually cause pain, but in some cases it is a possibility. Also, do note that if you have multiple papillomas, you may have a slightly higher risk of breast cancer.

What Can You Do About It?

Do see your doctor if you have symptoms of a papilloma. Your doctor may remove tissue from the papilloma to check it for cancer (a biopsy). They may also recommend surgery to remove the growth and the affected part of the duct. 10 11

5. Breast Cyst

A breast cyst is oval or round sac filled with fluid in your breast that’s movable. These bumps can be sore sometimes and hormonal changes – as in menstruation, for instance – can make them more painful or larger. Sometimes, a cyst can be filled with fat or oil, though these usually don’t hurt. Cysts don’t increase your chances of breast cancer and are usually harmless.

What Can You Do About It?

A cyst may go away on its own without any treatment. But do see a doctor if you have one. They may insert a needle into the lump to make sure that it’s a cyst. Fluid can also be drained from the cyst by using a needle if it’s causing you discomfort.12 13

6. Breast Cancer

A lump anywhere in your breast, including under your nipple or areola, needs to be checked out to see if it’s cancerous. A lump is more likely to be indicative of cancer if it is firm, clearly defined, and doesn’t move. Other symptoms of breast cancer include dimpling of the skin on your breasts, discharge from your nipple, and retraction of the nipple.14

What Can You Do About It?

Do see your doctor if you have signs that might indicate breast cancer. Detecting and treating cancer early can make a huge difference in the outcome. Your doctor may recommend chemotherapy, radiotherapy, or surgery to treat cancer. Hormonal and biological medications are also used to treat breast cancer in some cases.15