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Children's Health

Health concern

10/25/2006

Question:

I have a 8 year old with one swollen inverted nipple, why or what is this?

Answer:

If your child is a son who is having a breastbud at 8 years of age, it is important to consult with his doctor since this not a normal finding in a young male child.

However, I am presuming your child is a girl. More than likely, this is is a breastbud, one of the first external signs in girls that puberty is beginning. It is not at all unusual that that one breast bud appears before the other or that there may be tenderness in the breast bud.

As to the inverted nipple, this is absolutely no cause for concern. It may well resolve as her breasts continue to develop through the four phases of pubertal development. Inverted nipples occur when the tissue underlying the mammary pit does not multiply and elevate the nipple and areola (brown circular area surrounding the nipple). Instead, adhesions at the base of the nipple pull the nipple inward. During puberty, the adhesions are likely to stretch and allow the nipple to extend outward. Even if your child's nipples remain inverted at the end of puberty, usually around 16 years of age, there are no known problems associated with them. Most women successfully breastfeed even with inverted nipples. There is also a surgical procedure that can be done to release inverted nipples, if a woman so desires.

The most important things you can do at this time are first of all, to relax and not focus attention on your daughter's breast tissue, since this is not an abnormal condition and is very likely to resolve on its own. Undue focus may embarrass your child and make her feel as though she is abnormal and possibly affect her self-esteem. Secondly, it is clearly time to discuss coming pubertal changes with your daughter. There are many books available in book stores to assist you. Free on-line advice and booklets are also available at www.plannedparenthood.org/.

You may also notice at this time that your daughter is beginning to have adult-like body odor and that she may begin having acne. This is because of the greater activity of the adrenal glands preparing the body for puberty. Children at this age often are not aware that they cannot skip daily bathing any longer and that they need to begin using underarm deoderant as well as washing their faces twice each day with a mild soap such as unscented Dove or Basis. It's a good idea to discuss these hygiene issues now as well.

I am sure it seems way to soon to think of your daughter entering puberty and becoming a young woman. It is such an important time to support your daughter's self-confidence by assuring she has accurate information and knows that she can come to you for answers to questions about her changing body. Research with teens shows that teens really do prefer to talk with their parents about pubertal changes and sexuality. Good luck to you both as you begin this important new phase in your daughter's development!

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Response by:

Mary M Gottesman, PhD, RN, CPNP, FAAN Mary M Gottesman, PhD, RN, CPNP, FAAN
Professor of Clinical Nursing
College of Nursing
The Ohio State University