Dark Areolas, A person’s breasts may sometimes experience some changes due to natural events such as puberty and pregnancy. The skin circular area surrounding the nipples, also known as areola, is what experiences these color changes, the nipple doesn’t change. Color changes in the areola are usually benign. However, there are cases when changing in the color of the nipples requires urgent medical attention.
What Causes Dark Areolas?
The causes of the blackening of the nipples are:
- oral contraceptives
- Hair around the nipples
1. Oral Contraceptives
Birth control pills contain synthetic versions of the hormones estrogen and progesterone. Taking these pills can help prevent unwanted pregnancies. Birth control pills can affect the body in a similar way to other hormonal changes. They can darken the area around the nipples, a condition referred to as dark areolas. However, this should improve as soon as a person stops taking the pill. Birth control pills can also cause melasma if brown or gray spots appear.
2. Puberty or Adolescence:
When the ovary releases the hormone, a person’s estrogen levels increase during puberty. This estrogen rise causes breast development. The nipples can undergo changes, which usually include dark areolas, which is darkening and elevation of the surrounding skin as the breast grows.
In pregnancy, the breasts start to prepare for the arrival of the baby as the fetus continues to grow in the uterus. An additional estrogen and progesterone are produced by the body to help in preparing for milk production which feeds the newborn baby, the production of these hormones causes changes in the breasts.
It may also be noticed that breasts become swollen and sore. The areola will become darker which helps the baby to identify the nipple from the rest part of the breasts. Since darker nipples are temporary in pregnancy, the dark color will fade away after pregnancy and breastfeeding.
Nipples may become darken during breastfeeding, and many other changes also occur. It is believed that the dark color of the nipples is to help the baby identify the nipple from the rest part of the breasts due to their poor eyesight at birth. But the dark color can also be due to hormonal fluctuations that are necessary for milk production.
5. Hair Around Breast Environment
It is not uncommon for a person to have small hair growing on around nipples. These small bristles can be darker than other hair in a person’s body. Dark hair can darken the nipples more if they grow very close to the nipples, which results in dark areolas.
This is a natural reproductive cycle. The ovaries are preparing to lay an egg to be fertilized during this cycle. The breast also experiences various changes at some points in the menstrual cycle. These changes are due to changes in hormonal levels during pregnancy.
Breast changes also occur during ovulation. When the hormone level changes, the breast may be sensitive or inflamed. Similarly, a person may notice that their nipples become darker as the cycle develops.
There is a type of cancer, the Paget’s disease of the breast which starts around the nipple area. The first signs of Paget’s disease include darkening of the nipple color and other signs and symptoms such as flattened nipple, yellow or bloody nipple discharge, peeling or thick, crisp skin around the nipple, Itching or tingling around the nipple.
People can develop this tumor (cancer) at any time in their lives after adolescence. However, it is more common in the elderly than in young people. If a person has these signs of cancer, they should visit their doctor immediately.
Since some of the most common physical changes during pregnancy occur in the breast. Shortly after conception, pregnant women notice breast tenderness, swelling, stretch marks, and dark areolas (surrounding skin at the nipples). Due to the increase in hormones during pregnancy, many women find that this skin becomes darker during pregnancy. The color of the areolas may change from the first or second week, and some women may find that their areolas have a larger diameter, especially when their breasts swell. Nipples can also become larger or more prominent. Skin darkening, known as hyperpigmentation, is also common in the external genitals and anal area during pregnancy.
In addition to dark areolas, Montgomery tubercles, with small bumps on the areolas may appear during pregnancy. These bumps are not a cause for concern. These are caused by inflammation of the sebaceous glands called “Montgomery glands” named after Irish doctor William Montgomery, who first discovered them in 1837. Their purpose is to secrete a kind of oil that protects and lubricates sensitive skin surrounding the nipples during breastfeeding (constant pressure, wear, and dehydration of the skin during breastfeeding can be quite painful and still does for some women).
Some scientists also believe that the oil secreted by the Montgomery glands may have an odor that stimulates the appetite of a newborn child and therefore promotes healthy nutrition. The number of Montgomery glands at the nipple varies greatly from one woman to another. Some women have only a few, about four while others may be over twenty.
Often they are not visible to the naked eye, so if some they suddenly appear around the nipples during pregnancy, some women become worried, although many women report that their Montgomery glands can also be seen with sexual arousal.
Causes of darker areolas
The main cause of dark areolas is hormones. Progesterone and estrogen allow the body to produce more pigment. For this reason, many women see spots and dark skin spots on the body. These hormones also cause swelling of the areolas, breast tenderness, breast swelling, loss of colostrum, and all other changes that occur in the breasts.
It is believed that the dark areolas and its enlargement during pregnancy and breastfeeding is an evolutionary adaptation: infants have blurred vision and a larger and darker areola is easier to recognize and separate from the remaining parts of the breast.
Other Possible Causes Of Dark Areolas And Blackened Nipples
Dark areolas in women can also be caused by aging, menstruation, or some medications. In some cases, the darkening of the skin can be a sign of a serious problem, but this is usually not the case. If the color change is accompanied by pain, redness, or bleeding, the doctor should be informed.
If you are not pregnant, your dark areolas and nipples are likely to be caused by a serious condition such as Paget’s disease, a rare form of cancer. If you have dark nipples on both breasts, Paget’s disease is probably not the cause. In any case, this symptom should require the doctor’s visit for examination, especially if the skin around the nipple and areola is peeling or peeling off.
Treatment Of Dark Areolas
You can’t do much to prevent nipple darkening during pregnancy or breastfeeding. The color change is not a life or death situation; It is only a natural part of pregnancy and childbirth. Dark areolas during pregnancy in most cases return to their original color after birth but are likely to remain dark until breastfeeding. In some women, dark skin is permanent. Some medical creams may not be safe for use during pregnancy. It is so important to visit your doctor before resorting to applying cream or ointment to the breast or the rest parts of your body to treat problems or changes in the skin.
When To See A Doctor About Dark Areolas?
As people grow older every day, some natural changes in the breasts and nipples are noticed. Many life events, such as menstruation, pregnancy, and breastfeeding, can cause the darkening of the nipples.
The adoption of these nipples naturally changes color over time and as a result of various biological events in human life. Changes in color are not important, and the struggle becomes easy as the body changes. A person should visit the doctor to ascertain the underlying causes and seek treatment if the nipple darkening is accompanied by other symptoms not related to normal events.