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Bleeding Nipple


Healthgrades Editorial Staff

What is bleeding nipple?

A bleeding nipple is bloody discharge from the nipple of the breast. Blood coming from the nipple can be symptomatic of a benign (noncancerous) breast disorder. These disorders include breast tissue infection, called mastitis, and intraductal papilloma. The latter is a small growth in the breast tubes that move milk to the nipple. These tubes are called ducts.

Bloody nipple discharge can also be an early sign of breast cancer. These cancers include intraductal carcinoma and lobular carcinoma. Intraductal carcinoma, also called intraductal carcinoma in situ, begins in the ducts. Lobular carcinoma starts in the lobules, or the parts of the breast that produce milk. A rare type of breast cancer, Paget’s disease of the breast, begins with inflammation and skin changes on the nipple that may result in bleeding.

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Women who are breastfeeding may experience cracked nipples that can produce blood. Women who have undergone nipple piercing may also experience bleeding as the piercing heals. Any type of trauma to the skin of the breast can produce bleeding of the nipple area.

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A bleeding nipple should be evaluated by your health care provider immediately. Seek prompt medical care if you notice bloody discharge from your nipple.

Medical Reviewers: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Review Date: Sep 25, 2016

© 2017 Healthgrades Operating Company, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Healthgrades Operating Company, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the Healthgrades User Agreement.

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Medical References

  1. Breast cancer. Medline Plus, a service of the National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health.
  2. Breast cancer: early detection. American Cancer Society.

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