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Blog. What Does Nipple Pain Mean?

The online magazine, Men’s Health, recently published an interesting article on nipple pain in men. Yes, it does happen! As specialists in plastic surgery for men—particularly gynecomastia surgery—we see our fair share of guys complaining of sore nipples. Here’s our perspective on nipple pain and what you should do about it.

If it’s Likely to be Gynecomastia

The most frequent cases of nipple pain we encounter are associated with man boobs. The Men’s Health article asserted that guys’ breasts grow when there’s an excess of fatty tissue: not exactly true. Gynecomastia is actually caused by the growth of breast gland tissue, often accompanied by excess fatty tissue but not always. When breasts grow, be they male or female, they sometimes cause discomfort. The article mentioned some possible triggers; you can find a comprehensive list of gynecomastia causes here.

There’s good news and bad news about man boobs. The good news is the condition is benign, and if you have moobs that don’t bother you there’s no reason to treat them. The bad news is that many men and adolescents suffer acute embarrassment with enlarged breasts. Male breast reduction is the surest way to solve the problem permanently. We perform gynecomastia procedures by the hundreds each year. We’d be pleased to talk over your case with you.

If You Think it’s Some Kind of Infection

Nipple infections can result from minor injuries due to grooming chest hair, according to Men’s Health, and from nipple piercing. They can also be caused by certain types of skin fungus. Minor infections usually resolve on their own. You can speed healing by keeping the area clean and dry. If there’s a troublesome rash present or nipple discharge, or if you have a persistent infection, make an appointment to visit to your primary care physician or dermatologist.

If it Could be Clothing or Allergy Related

If your nipples are itchy or sore all of a sudden, consider any changes you may have made recently. Have you taken up running or another form of vigorous exercise? Have you bought new workout clothing? Sore nipples may be a result of simple chafing. If you don’t think that’s the problem, perhaps you’ve changed laundry detergent or lotion and you’re suffering an allergic reaction. Try swapping out clothes and substances you may use on your skin to see if that helps. Some dedicated runners wear bandages or other protection for their nipples.
If you can’t clear up the soreness on your own, see a dermatologist.

If you Notice a Lump

If you discover a lump or mysterious swelling in your breast, you’ll need professional help in diagnosing it. Chances are you won’t have a serious health issue, but a swollen area or hard lump is not something to leave unexplored. Here are some leading possibilities:

  • Gynecomastia: Some cases of gynecomastia present as a hard nub of tissue, particularly right below the nipples. This is often the way bodybuilders with very little fat develop man boobs.
  • Cysts: According to the Mayo Clinic, a cyst is a sac beneath the skin that’s filled with air, fluid or other material. The organization offers a comparison of cysts and tumors here.
  • Breast cancer: It’s important to know that although it’s rare, men do develop cancerous tumors. We recently wrote an overview of male breast cancer here, read it to learn some basics.

If you’re a guy with nipple pain, we understand it can be disconcerting and embarrassing. But don’t let that deter you from seeking treatment if there’s reason to think it might be something other than a minor issue. Medical professionals who are experts in gynecomastia surgery, like our South Florida staff, as well as other physicians who treat male patients, have truly seen it all!

Better safe than sorry any day. Give us a call at 561-367-9101 if we can help.


Dr. Elliot William Jacobs is a board-certified aesthetic plastic surgeon who specializes in FTM top surgery, gynecomastia surgery, revision gynecomastia surgery and male breast reduction. He is a native of New York and has over 40 years of experience in his field. Dr. Jacobs is a highly respected and sought-after surgeon who is known for his skill, experience, and compassion. Whether you are interested in gynecomastia for the first time, or are looking to correct a gynecomastia you aren’t happy with, Dr. Jacobs can deliver amazing results.


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