What Are the Common Causes of Pus from a Nipple?

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  • Written By: Dan Harkins
  • Edited By: Kaci Lane Hindman
  • Last Modified Date: 20 October 2018
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When a nipple emits discharge, it could either just be a normal part of life or something to worry about. Important factors to notice are the color of the pus and the person's stage of life. Any time men have pus from a nipple, they are advised to seek medical attention. Women are told to consider a range of situations that can create nipple discharge, dangerous or innocuous.

Common sufferers of nipple discharge are breastfeeding women who receive a bacterial infection from their babies' mouths; however, other women can get these infections, called mastisis, either before or after menopause. This can occasionally result in an abscess forming inside the breast that emits pus from a nipple in a color darker than their milk. Other symptoms that an abscess may be present include a mobile lump in the breast, breast pain, pus from one nipple, and prolonged fevers.

A cancerous tumor could discharge pus from a nipple, generally a bloody secretion. If removed by mastectomy, the lump in a breast will be tested for malignancy, though lumps are rarely cancerous. Cancerous growths generally happen to women in the second half of life, while benign abscesses can happen to women of all ages. In either case, the discharge will typically be from just one breast. Paget's disease is a rare cancer affecting mostly women, which also results in a bloody nipple discharge.


Many doctors warn that a common cause of pus from a nipple is life itself, particularly if the breast is overstimulated or was recently injured, or if a woman is suffering from hormonal imbalance. These factors can result in a minor infection that the body often will successfully fight off in short order. Medical attention, however, is advised if any nipple discharge is discovered during pregnancy or while breastfeeding, or if it lasts for longer than a month and if the discharge contains blood. Men are also advised to seek medical attention if they experience any type of nipple discharge.

Several other conditions could result in pus from a nipple. Mammary duct ectasia and fibroadenoma are fairly rare disorders that could cause discharge in patients of all ages. Another condition called galactorrhea causes milky secretions from the breasts of men or women, young and old. Happening mostly to women, this condition can develop as a prescription drug side effect, from the breast being overstimulated or from pituitary problems. An unrelated pituitary problem that could cause nipple discharge is called prolactinoma, which results from the body making too much prolactin and, subsequently, too few sex hormones like testosterone and estrogen.


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Post 6

@feruze-- I don't think so, unless you're on some kind of hormone treatment. It seems unlikely though. There has to be some other cause for the pus. The breasts don't normally have a discharge unless there is a growth or unless a woman is lactating.

I had it happen to me due to a sebaceous cyst near my nipple. I think it might have developed due to an ingrown hair. It was basically forming an oil-like discharge inside my skin that would leak out when squeezed. My doctor removed it with a local anesthetic.

Post 5

Can medications cause pus from the nipples as a side effect?

Post 4

A nipple piercing can also cause pus. It's actually normal to get some pus from the nipple while the piercing is healing. But if the pus has a weird color like green and if it smells bad, there might be an infection.

This happened to me. My nipple was red and swollen and there was a green discharge due to the piercing. I had to use antibiotics to treat the infection.

Post 3

@browncoat - Even if you are reasonably sure you know why there might be an infection, I would still get it checked out, if possible. It's true that cancer could cause it, or maybe just help to exacerbate whatever is causing it.

Plus I just don't think most people would really be able to tell if something was pus or if it was something else.

Post 2

@umbra21 - I think that people just get shocked when they have something coming out of the nipple when they aren't expecting it. I can happen to men and women who run a lot and damage their nipples with friction during a race or something.

So, sometimes it can just be from something that is obvious in retrospect, but it might still be quite scary when you don't know that it could happen.

Post 1

I think that if you aren't sure what the cause of the problem is that you should absolutely go and get medical attention. Even if you are breastfeeding you should go (perhaps especially if you are breastfeeding) because the last thing you want is to get an ongoing infection in your breast. My mother got one when she was breastfeeding me and she always told me it was the worst pain she had ever felt and that she was convinced she was going to die.

The sooner you can get some antibiotics into yourself to clear up the infection, the better off you are going to be. You don't need that extra stress when you've just had a baby.

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