Why Are My Boobs Purple?

Many new moms have wondered why their nipples turn purple and painful when they’re pumping. This phenomenon is known as nipple vasospasm and it is very common, especially in breastfeeding mothers.

While it can seem alarming, nipple vasospasm doesn’t indicate any serious issues and poses no long-term risk for breastfeeding moms or their babies. It’s similar to Raynaud’s Phenomenon that causes fingers, toes, or cheeks to turn white and sensitive when circulation is reduced.

Nipple Vasospasm

Nipple vasospasm is a common occurrence for breastfeeding moms. It can occur when a baby pinches or compresses the nipple, restricting blood flow to the area. This can cause the nipple to turn white and then purple as the blood returns to the area. While this may be painful, it isn’t a serious issue and it doesn’t last very long.

Vasospasm occurs when the blood vessels in an area tighten, which can cause a decrease in blood flow and color to the skin. This can happen anywhere in the body, including the nipples and breasts. It can also be caused by a cold temperature or exposure to certain stimulants. Vasospasm can be uncomfortable and cause a tingling, stabbing or throbbing sensation.

If the nipples are purple, it’s likely that they are experiencing some kind of vasospasm. It’s similar to the feeling of pins and needles when your fingers or toes go numb when you’re in the cold.

The best way to combat nipple vasospasm is to avoid cold temperatures and stimulants, like smoking, caffeine or certain medications. You can also try rubbing olive oil into your nipple and areola to keep them warm and soft. In addition, making sure your baby is properly latched while nursing can help with this condition as well. If your nipple vasospasm becomes severe or interferes with your breastfeeding routine, it’s a good idea to consult with a lactation consultant for guidance and solutions.

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Breast Cancer

Breast cancer develops when a breast cell develops changes in its DNA that make it grow out of control and attack nearby tissue. This can kill or destroy the tissue and then spread (metastasize) to other parts of the body. There are several different types of breast cancer, and a few of them may cause your nipples to turn purple.

Invasive ductal carcinoma, which starts in the milk-producing cells of a nipple duct and grows into fatty tissue, is the most common type of breast cancer and accounts for about 80% of all invasive breast cancer cases. Lobular carcinoma, which begins in the glandular lobules, is less common but still very dangerous. Inflammatory breast cancer, which can look like an infection and causes the skin to feel warm, red, swollen and tender, usually affects the tissue around the areola of the breast. Paget’s disease of the nipple, a rare condition that occurs when cancer cells invade lymph vessels in the skin of your nipple or the thin tissue over it, can also lead to a purple rash.

If your nipples are purple and tender, it’s important to talk to your doctor about it right away. Most breast color changes are not a sign of cancer, but it is a reason to get a mammogram or other diagnostic test to check for one.

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Estrogen Changes

One of the most common reasons that your nipples turn purple is because your body is changing the amount of estrogen it produces. This is especially true in puberty, when the hormone level spikes, causing your breasts to develop and darken. This change in estrogen can also cause the tiny hairs found on your nipples to become darker, too.

As you age, your levels of this hormone will fluctuate and it is normal for them to go down at the time of your period. You may notice that you are more sensitive to things, and you might start getting headaches right before your period. If you experience these symptoms regularly, talk to your doctor, as your estrogen levels might be going down.

Many trans femmes report changes in their mood as a result of hormone therapy, which uses estrogen to help alleviate gender dysphoria and affirm their identities. They often say that their emotions seem “bigger” or more expansive when they’re on estrogen, and some people even feel more empathy for others while they’re on the medication. It is important to keep in mind that these aren’t necessarily “bad” effects of hormone therapy and that every person’s reaction will be a little different.

Breast Engorgement

If your nipples are purple and painful, you may be experiencing breast engorgement. This is when your nipples are overfilled with milk and is normal during the first few days of breastfeeding. It can be mild or more intense. It’s usually a good sign that your body is working well and producing milk for your baby.

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Breast engorgement is not only uncomfortable but it can also affect your baby’s latch and feeding. You can relieve breast engorgement by expressing some of your milk to help empty the breasts and relax the nipples. However, be careful not to overdo it with expressing as this can cause your supply to decrease.

During this time, it’s also common to have a low fever, which is known as milk fever. This is typically nothing to worry about, but be sure to call your healthcare provider if it persists.

You can prevent breast engorgement by nursing your baby often during the first few days after birth — 8-12 times per 24 hours. It’s important to let your baby nurse on demand and not put them on a strict schedule. Also, make sure your nipples are well supported with a roomy bra and that you’re drinking enough water to stay hydrated. Finally, over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen can be helpful to manage the pain and swelling.

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