Childhood is a time of major physiological changes, including, perhaps, a swollen nipple. Your child's nipple can be swollen for several reasons, but most of those reasons are not serious. Although a swollen nipple in your child might alarm you, remain calm for your child's sake. If your child develops a swollen nipple, contact your pediatrician for a proper diagnosis.
One of the first signs of puberty in a female is the development of breasts. Development of breasts begins as a painful swelling under one or both of a girl's nipples, according to the website Keep Kids Healthy. If your daughter is younger than 8 years old and begins to develop breasts, she might be going through early puberty, which is also called precocious puberty. In addition to swollen nipples, precocious puberty is characterized by pubic hair growth and a growth spurt. If you notice these changes in a child younger than 8, contact your doctor.
Gynecomastia is defined as the growth of abnormal breast tissue in males. Gynecomastia, which is not uncommon during puberty, generally begins as a small lump beneath the nipple, which gives the nipple a swollen appearance. Approximately 70 percent of boys will develop breast tissue during puberty, according to Massachusetts General Hospital. The development of breast tissue occurs as a result of a hormonal imbalance that disrupts the amount of estrogen and testosterone in your son's body. Generally, the imbalance only causes the swelling to occur on one nipple. Once the hormonal imbalance is corrected, the swelling should go down.
Underneath your child's nipple lies a layer of fat tissue. If your child carries extra weight or begins to gain weight, some of the excess fat deposits around the breast tissues and may appear as a swollen nipple. With some healthy eating and increased exercise, the appearance of swelling should go away.
Although worry might tempt you to poke and squeeze your child's nipple in an attempt to figure out the cause, resist the urge. Poking and squeezing the nipple will only increase redness and tenderness and prevent the swelling from dissipating. Most causes of swollen nipples in children are not serious. If the swollen nipple is accompanied by signs of an infection, such as redness, tenderness or discharge or if your child has a fever, contact your doctor.