These bumps play a big part in the health of our nipples (Picture: Myles Goode for Metro.co.uk)
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Regularly checking your breasts for lumps and bumps is something we should all be in the habit of.
But if it’s something you’re new to, you may not always be familiar with how your breasts look, especially if you’re someone who has periods.
If you’ve ever looked down and noticed your nipple itself is unusually bumpy, we wouldn’t be surprised if you freaked out a little bit.
It’s good to be cautious – but it’s also good to know that those little bumps you sometimes get on your nipples are completely normal.
They’re called Montgomery glands (or Montgomery tubercles) and are often found on the areola, aka the dark-coloured area surrounding your nipple on both men and women.
What are Montgomery glands?
According to Dr Elise Dallas, Women’s Health GP at The London General Practice, Montgomery glands serve a vital purpose in nipple health.
‘They secrete an oily, waxy substance that helps keep the nipple and areola lubricated and provides a protective oily barrier to guard against infection,’ she tells Metro.co.uk.
‘This secretion can help prevent dryness, cracking, and irritation of the nipple during breastfeeding and other activities.
‘Essentially, they contribute to the overall health and comfort of the nipple.’
Some people have more Montgomery glands than others, and they’re likely to become more prominent the older you get.
As Dr Elise explains, pregnancy and breastfeeding can make your Montgomery glands more pronounced, as can hormonal changes due to your menstrual cycle, stress, hormonal contraception or menopause.
Montgomery glands are completely normal (Picture: Myles Goode for Metro.co.uk)
Is it okay to squeeze the bumps on your nipple?
If you notice you have more Montgomery glands than usual, you should avoid squeezing them or tampering with them at all.
‘Generally, avoid squeezing or popping Montgomery tubercles, as they can contain a waxy substance, resembling a spot,’ says Dr Elise.
‘Manipulating them can cause infection or nipple tissue damage. It’s advisable to leave them undisturbed.’
Glands can become blocked, inflamed or infected — the signs to look out for are swelling, itching or inflammation – if this is the case, leave them alone and speak to your GP. If it’s just an infection, it should settle in two to three weeks.
When should you worry about bumps on your nipples?
For the most part, bumps on your nipples are no cause for concern, especially if they appear regularly.
However, Dr Jo Mennie, a doctor and women’s health expert at Dr David Jack, tells Metro.co.uk, if you notice anything out of the ordinary, make sure to contact your GP.
‘Any discharge from the nipple, tethering of the nipple, a hard lump, or persistent itching and a rash that doesn’t go away within a week should be seen by your doctor,’ she says.
‘These could be signs of breast cancer or Paget’s disease of the nipple.’
Signs that something is out of the ordinary
- Pus or discharge
- Tethering of the nipple
- A hard lump
- Persistent itching or rash that won’t go away
Dr Jo Mennie, a doctor and women’s health expert
Don’t feel reassured? Speak to your GP. You know your body best, and it’s better to be safe than sorry.
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