Bumps on Nipple and 8 Other Weird Nipple Things That Are Actually Totally Normal


If you’ve ever found yourself googling something “weird” you’ve noticed about your nipples (like “bumps on nipple” or “third nipple”), you’re not alone. There is so much variation when it comes to nipples—like the look, shape, texture, color, and size—that you’ve likely wondered at least once whether or not yours are “normal.”

And while the many differences you spot may give you pause, fear not: Chances are, you have totally normal nipples and whatever you’re noticing is a natural variation. That said, there’s a small chance your nipples might be trying to tell you something about your health. Keep reading to learn which seemingly weird nipple things are actually pretty run-of-the-mill and which are a sign you should check with your doctor.

First, a word about your nipples.

Before we start talking about “normal nipples,” let’s get some definitions out of the way. Sometimes people think the entire pink or brown part of your boobs is your nipples but actually, your nipples are just the center part of the dark area—yep, where milk comes out if you breastfeed, according to the Cleveland Clinic. The dark skin surrounding the nipples, on the other hand, is called the areola, and it has glands (called Montgomery glands) that secrete fluid to aid in breastfeeding.

But if you’re searching around about something your nipples are doing, you’re probably wondering about your literal nipples, your areolas, or both. So keep in mind that we’ll be going by the anatomical definitions in this article.

Now that you know exactly what we mean by “nipples,” here are those “weird” issues that are actually just part of having normal nipples:

1. Your nipples are big or small.

The size of your nipples means nothing. Like really, nothing. There are all different sizes and shapes. Don’t believe us? Check out this (NSFW) gallery for a reality check on the wide range of what nips really look like. And if you had any kind of worry about your nipple size having any association with your health, don’t. “The size of your nipple has no relevance to cancer risk, for example,” Maggie DiNome, M.D., director of the Margie Peterson Breast Center at John Wayne Cancer Institute at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, CA tells SELF.

Likewise, Debra Patt, M.D., a medical oncologist and breast cancer specialist with Texas Oncology, a practice in the U.S. Oncology Network, agrees: “Generally the size variability in the nipple and nipple-areolar complex is not a medical condition, just physiologic variability.”

2. You think you’ve got the “wrong” nipple color.

Whether your nipples are so pale you can see your blue veins (oh, hey) or they’re a rich shade of brown, you needn’t worry—they’re totally normal. “Nipple color is not indicative of health in any way,” Patt tells SELF. “There’s natural variability in nipple color, just as there is in skintone variability with—and within—different ethnicities,” she adds. DiNome agrees that color is not usually indicative of breast pathology but, “a rash, crusting or a lesion on the nipple or areolae may (be),” she says.

The exception here is if your nipples have suddenly turned red. Now, if you know why they’re red—for example, you went running and they chafed against your sports bra—then you’re good. Otherwise, head to the doc and let them know how your nipple color has changed. It could be a potential sign of breast cancer—specifically, Paget’s disease of the breast, a rare type of breast cancer that also comes with scaliness, itching, and yellow or bloody discharge, Kecia Gaither, M.D., an ob/gyn and women’s health expert in New York City, tells SELF. “With any major nipple changes, seek evaluation from your health provider,” she adds.

3. Your nipples don’t stick out—they stick in.

“Inverted nipples can be congenital, but they can also be acquired during one’s lifetime,” DiNome tells SELF. And they’re not that uncommon. In fact, it’s estimated that 10 to 20 percent of people with breasts have inverted nipples, which is when the nipples indent in the areola instead of standing above the surface of the breast, explains Gaither. Inverted nipples are totally safe and can happen with one or both breasts.


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