Runners Nipple – Symptoms – Treatment – Prevention

Jogger’s nipple

runners nipple 3

What is it?

Jogger’s nipple is common in runners. It occurs when the nipples are irritated by rubbing and chafing against clothing during physical activity.

Jogger’s nipple is also known as runner’s nipple, surfer’s nipple, red eleven, raver’s nipple, big Q’s, red nipple, stingers, weightlifter’s nipple and gardener’s nipple, or nipple chafe. There are similar colloquial terms for almost any activity that can result in the condition.

Symptoms

Jogger’s nipple is very painful and can affect one or both nipples.

Common symptoms of jogger’s nipple include:

  • irritation
  • redness of the skin
  • soreness
  • dryness

If the nipple is irritated for a long period it may crack and bleed.

Causes

Jogger’s nipple is common in women who run without bras and men who wear shirts that are made of coarse material such as cotton. Also, it’s more likely to occur in winter when the nipple is more prominent and hard.

Treatments

A short rest from running to prevent further irritation will help your nipple to heal. You may wish to do some cross training, such as cycling, during this time to maintain your cardiovascular fitness. You can use an antiseptic cream on your nipple to treat the irritation and prevent infection. Always read the patient information leaflet that comes with your medicine and if you have any questions, ask your pharmacist for advice.

Do

  • Apply a waterproof adhesive bandage, or surgical tape over each nipple before exercise to act as a barrier between skin and cloth.
  • Don’t use a large, loose-fitting T-shirt during exercise.
  • Apply an anti-chafing balm or petroleum jelly prior to exercise on your nipples
  • if you’re a woman, you should wear a soft fibre and seamless bra
  • men should wear tops made from soft material
  • Wear a sports bra, shimmel, compression vest, or some variety of chest binding clothing.

Don’t

  • wear tops made of coarse material

    Peer reviewed by David Toy, MCSP, Bupa Sports Medicine physiotherapist