If your nipples are itchy, scaly and cracked, you may have eczema. The itching can make this an embarrassing condition. It occurs mainly in women in their late teens, and usually affects both nipples. It may be only on the nipple or may affect the flatter area surrounding the nipple (the areola). A steroid cream from your doctor will deal with it.

‘Jogger’s nipple’ is another possibility. This is caused by friction from clothing, especially during long-distance running. Protect your nipples with petroleum jelly (Vaseline) or surgical tape before exercising. A silk running vest is less abrasive than synthetic fibres.

Eczema of a nipple can signal a cancerous growth beneath or be Paget’s disease. This is uncommon, but it is why you should see your doctor if you have eczema on only one nipple. It occurs mainly in middle-aged or elderly women or men. It is not usually itchy, but there may be a pricking or burning feeling.

For further information on itchy, dry or scaly skin see our sections on itching, dry flaky skin and scaly skin.


First published on: embarrassingproblems.com
Reviewed and edited by: Dr Victoria Harmer
Last updated: October 2020

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