What Are Inverted Nipples?
Nipples pointing inwards or lying flat around the areola are known as inverted nipples or retracted nipples. These nipples do not point outwards but are turned inside since birth or due to some underlying condition. You can have inverted nipples on either or both of your breasts, which are usually not alarming. However, if you notice them inverting suddenly, you should immediately seek medical help.
Did you know:
Inverted nipples are due to underdeveloped milk ducts of the fetus in the womb. When the nipple base stays small in the womb, it prevents the milk ducts from completely developing, leading to inward nipples.
Classification of Inverted Nipples
The classification of inverted nipples is as follows:
- Grade 1: Under this grade, the nipple can easily be pulled outwards without much assistance. They can also remain in this state due to cold or stimulation. Women can easily breastfeed with this type of inverted nipple.
- Grade 2: Under this grade, you might require some assistance to pull out the nipple, but it will instantly go back to its original state. One might experience some trouble breastfeeding in this state.
- Grade 3: In this grade, the nipples are completely inverted and cannot be pulled out by hand. Women cannot breastfeed with this grade of nipple inversion.
What Causes Inverted Nipples?
Inverted nipple causes can either be from birth or developed over time. Here are the major causes of an inward nipple and if you should be worried about the same:
As you age, your milk ducts get shorter, making your nipples turn inwards. As a woman approaches menopause, she starts noticing her nipples retract. There is nothing to be worried about in such cases.
Breast injuries from breastfeeding, surgery, or any injury can often lead to inverted nipples. The scarring from breastfeeding is a major reason women get inward nipples after pregnancy. You may need to check with your healthcare provider for any infections.
Infections and inflammations are major causes of sudden cases of nipple inversion.
- Bacterial infection, also known as Mastitis, is one of the conditions in which bacteria enter the milk ducts and cause an infection.
- Mammary Duct Ectasia is the case of your milk ducts getting clogged and causing an infection.
- Abscess under the areola glands is a case of infection wherein pus collects around the areola. This is often a result of nipple piercings or a symptom of diabetes.
Breast cancer is a serious risk associated with inverted nipples. If the tumor attacks your milk ducts from behind the nipple, it leads to an inversion. Under Paget’s disease, one or more cancer cells attack your nipples, causing them to turn inward or flat. To diagnose these, doctors can conduct a mammogram and ultrasound or conduct a biopsy.
Did you know:
Grade classification of nipple inversion is the most common. This grade does not require any particular treatment, and one can lead a normal life with this type of inverted nipple.
Symptoms of Inverted Nipples
The symptoms of an inverted breast nipple due to an infection or cancer are as follows:
- Tender and sore breasts
- Redness around the nipple
- Lump around or behind your nipple
- Discharge that is bloody, white, green, or black
- Dimpling nipple skin that is flaky, itchy, and with scales
Inverted Nipple Treatments
Although Grade 1 and Grade 2 nipple inversion do not pose any challenges, people with Grade 3 nipple inversion require inverted nipple treatments. Following are some treatment options available in case your nipple retraction is due to cancer: