Hair on nipples in females is not unusual. While seeing black, wiry hair growing around your areolas can be surprising, know that you’re not alone. In most cases, hairy nipples aren’t a cause for concern.
Nearly the entire human body is covered in hair and hair follicles. Some of this body hair may be thin and transparent, and some, like leg hair, may turn thicker and darker with age.
Sometimes, long or coarse hair pops up in places you didn’t expect, like your ears, chin, and even your nipples.
Developing hair on the nipples can be a typical part of bodily changes. But sometimes, it may be a sign of hirsutism, which can be caused by something that needs your doctor’s attention.
The percentage of females with hairy nipples is unclear, as many don’t report it to their doctor. Read on to learn more about hair growth on your nipples and when you should talk with your doctor.
Are sex and gender the same thing?
In this article, we use “male and female” to refer to someone’s sex as determined by their chromosomes and “men and women” when referring to their gender (unless quoting from sources using nonspecific language).
Sex is determined by chromosomes, and gender is a social construct that can vary between time periods and cultures. Both of these aspects are acknowledged to exist on a spectrum both historically and by modern scientific consensus.
Many females experience hairy nipples. A few underlying causes can lead to the growth of nipple hairs. Most of these causes are very frequent, which helps explain why hairy nipples are so common.
Like other parts of the body, the skin of the areola contains hair follicles. These can be affected by the fluctuations in hormones during times of significant hormonal change, such as puberty, pregnancy, and menopause.
Subtle hormonal changes also occur in females during their 20s and 30s, which can also result in changes in your hair.
Overproduction of male hormones
A high level of androgens, such as the hormone testosterone (which is normally more abundant in males), can also
- oily skin or acne
- absent menstrual periods, known as amenorrhea
- increase in skeletal muscle mass
- male-pattern baldness, which includes hair loss on your head
Your doctor can test your hormone levels with a blood test. Learn more about the testosterone test.
- corticosteroids or anabolic steroids
- selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERMs) such as tamoxifen (Soltamox)
- hair growth medications like minoxidil
- immunosuppressants like cyclosporine (Gengraf, Neoral, Sandimmune)
- seizure medications like phenytoin (Phenytek, Dilantin)
3. Polycystic ovary syndrome
An imbalance of reproductive hormones causes polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). PCOS causes several side effects, including:
- irregular menstrual periods
- ovarian cysts
- excessive hair growth in areas where hair more commonly occurs in males, including around the nipples
4. Cushing’s syndrome
Increased and prolonged exposure to high cortisol levels, a glucocorticosteroid hormone, can cause Cushing syndrome.
Some of the symptoms of Cushing’s syndrome
You don’t need to remove the dark hairs around your nipples. They won’t cause any issues. However, you can remove them for aesthetic reasons if you choose. Several treatment options may help.
This is the least harmful option you can try at home, but you’ll need to be careful not to cut your breasts. Grab small scissors, like manicure scissors, and hold the nipple hairs with your finger or tweezers. Cut the hair close to the skin. The hair will continue to grow, so you will likely need to cut it frequently.
This is perhaps the simplest way to remove nipple hairs, but you should keep a few things in mind before plucking. Your areolas and the skin around your nipples can be sensitive, so plucking may cause discomfort.
To reduce this feeling, pluck the hairs immediately after a shower. The warm water can help open the pores, so hairs come out more easily and with less pain.
Plucking hairs opens up the possibility of an infection or ingrown hairs as the hairs return later. Use caution if you pluck the hairs, and watch for signs of infection, such as redness, tenderness, or pus.
You can reach for your razor while in the shower, but be sure to protect the delicate skin on your nipples with your hand.
Like with tweezing, you increase your risk of developing ingrown hairs or a hair follicle infection when hairs return. In addition, you may experience an accident and cut your breasts or nipples with a sharp razor.
You can remove hair with sugaring or waxing, but this can be painful on the delicate skin of your breasts. Don’t try to wax your own nipple hairs.
Instead, go to a salon or waxing boutique and talk with a trained aesthetician about your options. Again, you risk developing an infection or ingrown hair after the waxing as the hair returns.
Laser or electrolysis
A plastic surgeon or cosmetic dermatologist must perform this procedure, and each session can cost over $300. Plus, these products can be uncomfortable, especially on the sensitive skin around your nipples.
If a hormonal imbalance is causing the nipples around your hair to grow, your doctor might suggest hormonal medications to restore the balance.
What about bleach or hair removal creams?
Bleaching and hair removal creams are available and popular for bikini lines, legs, and armpits. You should avoid using these hair removal products around your nipples, however, because they may irritate.
Learn more about removing unwanted hair.
In most cases, you don’t need to see your doctor for hair growth around your nipples. See your doctor if you’re also experiencing hair growth in other areas or have other unusual symptoms. You can book an appointment with a doctor in your area using our Healthline FindCare tool.
Your doctor may be able to determine if the hair growth is part of natural changes or if it could be a sign of an underlying problem like PCOS or Cushing’s syndrome. Several tests can help evaluate possible causes until a diagnosis is made.
In addition, you may also want to talk with your doctor about safe ways to remove hair around the nipples. Because of the risk of ingrown hairs or infections, your doctor may offer tips or advice for removing the hairs and reducing your risk for complications.
It’s important to know that hair growth around the nipples is common, and it’s also rarely a sign of an underlying problem.
You don’t need to remove the hair, but if it bothers you, you can also remove it easily by tweezing, shaving, trimming, or waxing. Procedures like electrolysis and laser hair removal can also slow or stop hair growth entirely, but those options come with a heftier price.