Montgomery Tubercles (Glands): Pictures, Early Pregnancy Sign?

Noticing unusual bumps and lumps around the breast and areola area can worry any woman. There are many changes that take place in your body throughout your menstrual cycle.

During pregnancy as well, you may observe changes to your breasts and areola. Mild itching, swelling and small bumps around nipples may be some of these changes.

Those small lumps are called montgomery tubercles. They are the small bumps around your nipples. At times, they may appear without reason. They are a normal part of the menstrual cycle and may sometimes be an early sign of pregnancy.

What are Montgomery’s tubercles?

The nipple is surrounded by glands called the areolar or Montgomery’s glands.

These glands are sebaceous in nature meaning that they have the role of producing lubricants and antiseptics for the nipple and the surrounding area.

The bumps around nipples or areolas are similar to the ones found on the scalp. See pictures and image illustrations on the page.

What are montgomery tubercles
Picture 1: Areolar glands.
  • Montgomery glands are small bumps which appear around the nipples.
  • They are part of the Montgomery glands and they have the primary role of lubricating and keeping germs away from the nipples.
  • If you have a baby, the secretions of these glands will also ensure that your baby suckles milk that is not contaminated with germs.

While they mostly appear on the areola (the area surrounding the nipple), these little bumps may also appear on the nipple itself. They are not painful in any way and will become more pronounced if you stimulate the nipple or are pregnant. You may have between 2 to 28 of these bumps on each nipple.

When swollen

While the glands are always present, the emergence of swollen Montgomery tubercles can be triggered by many different processes in the body.

Montgomery tubercles pictures
Picture 2: Montgomery’s glands.

The causes of swollen bumps around nipples may include pregnancy, stress and others. The swelling of the Montgomery glands is as a result of hormones just like many other bodily processes.

The complete list of the causes of Montgomery bumps includes:

  • Pregnancy (one of the early signs before missed period)
  • Stress
  • Hormonal changes
  • Breast cancer
  • Physical changes

An early pregnancy sign?

Most women will first observe Montgomery’s tubercles when they get pregnant even before they miss their period. Besides the pregnancy test, bumps around nipples are the other major early sign of pregnancy in the first weeks.

This sign will be more valid if you observe a darkening of the areola. This is because it will be a sign that the breasts are in the early stages of producing milk. If you notice the size of the areola (and the breasts in general) increasing and becoming sore, then you are most definitely pregnant.

To further confirm if you are pregnant, there are other obvious signs of a pregnancy which, when combined with the Montgomery tubercles, are irrefutable. They include;

1. Swollen and tender breasts

A few days after you have conceived, you may notice that you have tender, swollen and sometimes painful breasts. This is also another major sign of a pregnancy that is almost always a sure one. These signs will be accompanied by the tubercles all due to the rise in the levels of the hormones progesterone and estrogen.

2. Bleeding

Occasional spotting several days to your next period coupled with some pain in the abdomen is a sign that you could be pregnant. This would be the signs of the implantation process which is the attachment of the fertilized egg to the walls of the uterus where it will develop into a baby for the next nine months.

3. Missed period

Due to the body preparing itself for the developing pregnancy, the uterine wall will not be shed as the case is if you are not pregnant. If you miss your period and notice the tubercles around your nipples, go for a pregnancy test right away.

4. Morning sickness

Due to the excessive acid in the stomach, the stretched uterine muscles and a heightened sense of smell once you become pregnant, you are likely to experience morning sickness. Combined with Montgomery bumps, these are strong signs of a pregnancy.

5. Food cravings and dislikes

Due to the hormonal changes that you will experience when pregnant, you may notice that you overwhelmingly like some foods while disliking others. While you may experience these changes when pregnant, it is not always a sign of a pregnancy since changes in appetite are normal.

6. Frequent urination

One way the body prepares itself for a pregnancy is to retain nutrients and water. This increased water weight gain, followed by the exertion of pressure on the bladder by the bulging uterus, makes trips to the bathroom more frequent.

If you have these areola bumps and have frequent urination, a pregnancy should be on top of your list of the suspected causes.

Fatigue

In the first trimester of your pregnancy, your body will focus on building the placenta and the initial parts of the body. This placenta is what will nourish your fetus from a few cells to a fully grown baby.

Owing to the size and structure of the placenta, it requires a lot of energy and resources from the body. Also, at this stage, the fetus is dividing into many different cells at a very fast rate. Both of these processes will lead to a lot of fatigue.

Other possible signs of pregnancy other than sore nipples include diarrhea and constipation.

When the first trimester is over, the fatigue will go away as the placenta would be fully formed and the cell division in the fetus would have slowed down. If the fatigue continues into the second semester (or it increases), seek the advice of a doctor.

When do they appear in pregnancy?

If you are pregnant, raised bumps may appear before or after the missed period. It all depends on how sensitive to the hormones one is.

As soon as you experience implantation cramps and spotting, you may see the bumps right away. In other times, you may not see the swelling until after you have missed your period.

When not pregnant

While most women assume that these bumps are associated with pregnancies, there are other times when you may see them when you are not pregnant.

It is not rare to experience areola bumps and have a negative pregnancy test. In such a case, the other causes of these breast swellings come into play. They include:

1. Stress

Stress is bound to alter a lot of processes in the body including inducing undesirable hormonal changes. People have different bodily expressions of stress with some exhibiting increases in hormones while others have the opposite effect.

In the case that your stress induces the production of the hormones that excite the nipples and the Montgomery glands, you will see the tubercles whenever you are stressed.

Although there are ways to do away with the Montgomery bumps no matter their cause, you need to treat the underlying cause in this case stress.

Other signs of stress that may help you pinpoint the cause of the symptom are:

  • Irritability
  • Being overwhelmed
  • Finding it difficult to remain calm
  • A feeling of low self-esteem or self-worth in general.
  • Social isolation
  • General fatigue
  • Low libido
  • Insomnia
  • Headaches

2. Hormonal changes

It is the presence of hormones in the body that causes the appearance and disappearance of the Montgomery lumps. For this reason, any rise in the hormones associated with a pregnancy namely progesterone and estrogen will lead to the appearance of the tubercles.

You may expect that the Montgomery glands will only appear when the body is undergoing a certain process when it is not the case.

Hormonal imbalances may also lead to the production of progesterone and estrogen hormones when no bodily processes are in need of them. You will thus have the tubercles due to a hormonal imbalance.

Other signs of a hormonal imbalance that will help you identify the cause of the Montgomery’s tubercles include:

  • Sleep disorders such as hot flashes and night sweats
  • Reduced libido
  • Weight gain
  • Irritability
  • Constant fatigue

3. Breast cancer

Cancer of the breast affects a good number of women around the world. Among its symptoms is a discharge with some blood from the breast. If the lumps appear and they have a water or bloody discharge in them, it could be a sign of breast cancer.

Other signs of breast cancer include;

  • The skin on the nipple or whole breast may start scaling, peeling or flaking.
  • The shape of the breast may become altered from the norm.
  • The nipple may become inverted or sunken.
  • A rash around the nipples. It can either be a series of pimples or Montgomery’s tubercles.
  • Orange-like redness on the breast.
  • Pain in the breasts and the armpits on a random basis.

4. Physical changes

Some physical changes in the body can also lead to bumps around the areola. Such changes include;

  • Sudden gain or loss of weight
  • Dietary changes
  • A lot of exercises
  • The use of some medicines especially those that have a direct effect on hormones
  • A blocked gland or pores by dead skin cells

In most cases, the Montgomery bumps will go away once the physical cause has gone away.

How to get rid of bumps around nipples

While the Montgomery bumps around nipples are naturally expected to go away on their own, some may be unattractive and need to be removed. Here’s how to get rid of Montgomery tubercles with surgery and home remedies.

Normal excision

A normal excision will be performed on the areola bumps that are few and widely spread on the areola area of the breast. If you have about two tubercle or bumps and need them removed surgically, this is the best option. It is a type of cosmetic surgery that should not leave much of a scar on the breast.

Doughnut shaped excision

The doughnut shaped excision is used when you have many  big Montgomery tubercles around the nipples and you need them removed. In this type of surgery, a wholesome elimination of any growths around the breasts is carried out.

Also a type of cosmetic surgery, the doughnut shaped excision will leave a minor scar around the nipple.

Home remedies

When at home, there are several procedures you can use to do away with the tubercles or reduce their sizes. Stop using the remedies if your nipples become dry and start cracking.

  • You can put a towel in warm water and press it on the breast for about 20 minutes every night until you see them reduce in size.
  • Use aloe vera gel by applying it on the affected areas until you see them subside. The use of shea butter and cocoa butter oil also helps in doing away with them.
  • When the tubercles are due to a blockage of the pores of the skin by dead cells, you can use a cleaning agent to remove the blockage. Some common cleaners include Benzoyl Peroxide, Neutrogena Acne Wash, Cetaphil, Aveeno acne bar and others.
  • Twice a week, scrub the affected area with a scrub for exfoliating the face then apply aloe vera gel. Non-comedogenic products will be a good option if you are prone to clogged pores since they prevent its occurrence.
  • If you eat a healthy diet that is balanced and free of fatty and salty foods, you are bound to get less and less acne and other conditions that may block the pores of the skin and consequently enlarge the lumps.
  • Salicylic acid soaps mixed with cucumber serve as good exfoliation agents to leave behind a clean skin with open pores.
  • You should increase your intake of water while reducing the intake of sugar. While the water will help in ridding the body of toxins, reducing on the intake of sugar will help the body avoid producing chemicals responsible for the developer of pimples.
  • Citrus juices are also a good option when it comes to having a clean and flawless skin. You can also mix the juice with cinnamon powder then apply it to the skin for about an hour before washing it off.
  • Sugar free green tea will also help with the elimination of radicals from the skin leading to flawless skin everywhere on the body.
  • A mix of rosewater, sandalwood and Fuller’s Earth has been proven to remove excess oils from the skin and unclogging pores to keep pimples and Montgomery’s tubercles at bay.
  • Each day, apply a thin layer of toothpaste on the tubercles, wait for half an hour then wash it off. Toothpaste is known to do away with the acne that may cause the skin to have bumps and pimples.
  • When you apply garlic juice on the Montgomery tubercles, they will dry up quite fast. A daily use of this remedy will fully eliminate the tubercles especially those caused by acne.
  • Due to the high amounts of salicylic acid contained in aspirin tablets, you can crush two tablets then create a paste using a tablespoon of water and a teaspoon of honey then apply it to the affected area for ten min before washing it off. You should do this daily for the best results.
  • Calamine lotion has ingredients that ensure it eliminates any excessive oils from the skin. You may apply it in the morning then wash it off at night or apply it as you go to sleep then wash it off the next day.

Using these remedies is easy since try can be easily found in shops. If you observe any side effects, ensure you consult your doctor about it.

References

  1. Breast Cancer – American Cancer Society
  2. Hormone Imbalance: Symptoms and Treatment – WebMD
  3. Cosmetic Surgery vs. Plastic Surgery |American Board of Cosmetic Surgery

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