When a nipple emits discharge, it could either just be a normal part of life or something to worry about. Important factors to notice are the color of the pus and the person's stage of life. Any time men have pus from a nipple, they are advised to seek medical attention. Women are told to consider a range of situations that can create nipple discharge, dangerous or innocuous.
Common sufferers of nipple discharge are breastfeeding women who receive a bacterial infection from their babies' mouths; however, other women can get these infections, called mastisis, either before or after menopause. This can occasionally result in an abscess forming inside the breast that emits pus from a nipple in a color darker than their milk. Other symptoms that an abscess may be present include a mobile lump in the breast, breast pain, pus from one nipple, and prolonged fevers.
A cancerous tumor could discharge pus from a nipple, generally a bloody secretion. If removed by mastectomy, the lump in a breast will be tested for malignancy, though lumps are rarely cancerous. Cancerous growths generally happen to women in the second half of life, while benign abscesses can happen to women of all ages. In either case, the discharge will typically be from just one breast. Paget's disease is a rare cancer affecting mostly women, which also results in a bloody nipple discharge.
Many doctors warn that a common cause of pus from a nipple is life itself, particularly if the breast is overstimulated or was recently injured, or if a woman is suffering from hormonal imbalance. These factors can result in a minor infection that the body often will successfully fight off in short order. Medical attention, however, is advised if any nipple discharge is discovered during pregnancy or while breastfeeding, or if it lasts for longer than a month and if the discharge contains blood. Men are also advised to seek medical attention if they experience any type of nipple discharge.
Several other conditions could result in pus from a nipple. Mammary duct ectasia and fibroadenoma are fairly rare disorders that could cause discharge in patients of all ages. Another condition called galactorrhea causes milky secretions from the breasts of men or women, young and old. Happening mostly to women, this condition can develop as a prescription drug side effect, from the breast being overstimulated or from pituitary problems. An unrelated pituitary problem that could cause nipple discharge is called prolactinoma, which results from the body making too much prolactin and, subsequently, too few sex hormones like testosterone and estrogen.