What Are the Common Causes of Flaky Nipples?

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  • Written By: Valerie Goldberg
  • Edited By: Angela B.
  • Last Modified Date: 12 September 2018
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A person who is plagued by flaky nipples may experience soreness, burning and pain. Despite the uncomfortable symptoms, having flaky nipples is usually not something a person should be alarmed about. There are several common causes of this condition. They include eczema of the nipples, sunburn, dry skin and the use of certain medications. There are home remedies and prescription medications that can help a person to find relief from any discomfort caused by this.

One of the most common causes of flaky nipples is eczema of the nipples. A person who is prone to eczema on other spots of his or her body may eventually develop nipple eczema. Breastfeeding mothers may be at extra risk of developing nipple eczema. Sufferers can use lotion or water to hydrate the nipple. If the eczema does not clear up on its own or becomes excessively painful, a doctor may prescribe a prescription steroid cream to help.


Tanning bed users and those who sunbathe topless should be aware that flaky skin, including on the nipples, may result. A person who gets sunburn or dry skin on his or her nipples can experience flaking. People who have nipple flaking caused by sun exposure should keep their breast shaded from both natural and artificial sunlight until the flaking clears up. If a person is in pain from the flaking, then he or she can use powder, a moisturizer or a warm bath as a way to find relief. Women may find it difficult to wear a bra until the flaking heals.

Some medications also can cause this condition. Birth control pills are sometimes to blame for causing this symptom as a side effect. A woman who has just started taking a new type of birth control pill and notices flaky nipples should discuss the situation with her gynecologist. Anytime a person begins a new medication of any class and notices nipple flaking, he or she should consult a doctor or pharmacist.

Nipple flaking is not a serious issue most of the time. There is one rare form of breast cancer, known as Paget's disease of the nipple. This type of cancer can have flaking nipples as a symptom. The odds of having this illness are not high for most but, if a woman has a history of breast cancer in her family, is a breast cancer survivor, or feels a lump in her breast, then she should see a specialist just in case.


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Post 3

@Iluviaporos - That's the worst thing about breastfeeding. It can be a wonderful experience, but you do have to remember that nipples aren't completely invulnerable and they do put up with a lot of rough treatment, particularly when they are dealing with an older infant.

Even if you don't get cracked nipples, just getting flaky nipples can be a bit disconcerting, so I think it's better to start treating them before it happens, even if it's just a little bit, so that you can prevent them from going wrong in the first place.

Post 2

@umbra21 - I would suggest to anyone suffering from this to try the creams that they have for women that get cracked and flaky nipples during breast feeding.

But don't ever try to do it the other way around. Remember that the creams they formulate for mothers are going to be safe for kids to eat, whereas the ones they formulate for athletes aren't going to take that into account. Don't take for granted that the mother's ones are going to be food safe as well, but they will probably put it on the packaging when they are.

Post 1

Something else that can cause flaky nipples is running without the proper clothes. Long distance runners often realize that there's a hidden danger in that your shirt might chafe against anything that sticks out, including your nipples. Surprisingly, it's actually men who often suffer the worst, because they don't have nipples that move to the rhythm of their running like women do, and they don't have the extra protection of a padded bra.

If you get flaky nipples after this kind of exercise it's best to try and use a cream or a gel to try and protect them while you're running, and soothe them afterwards. You might also get special sticky pads that can cover the nipple and protect it.

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