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Weird Medical Problem Of The Week: Raynaud’s Phenomenon of the Nipple

This article would have been off my radar had it not been for the interaction on twitter.

jeffreyleow RT @paulinechen: Camera Phones [patients taking pics] helps doctor make rare diagnosis (via @EllenRichter)

Granted I am not generally asked about nipple pain in pregnant women.  Those questions tend to go to folk like TBTAM or ER’s Mom.

The article describes a case report of a 25 yo woman in her 2nd trimester with “frequent episodes of extreme bilateral nipple pain. A typical episode lasted between 5 and 15 minutes and was so painful as to bring her to tears.”

The article discusses Raynaud’s phenomenon of the nipple and share these photos (credit) taken with a camera phone with us.  The text with the photo:

Vasospasm of the arterioles manifesting as pallor (left), followed by cyanosis, and then erythema (centre). The right hand image shows the normal, asymptomatic, status.

As with Raynaud’s of the hand (which I am more familiar with), the phenomenon tends to occur when the ambient temperature drops below a certain threshold that is specific to each individual.  Exposure to cold should be avoided, as is avoidance of caffeine, nasal vasoconstrictors, and tobacco.

Additional treatment for Raynaud’s of the nipple:

Women with persistent pain require immediate relief to continue breastfeeding successfully. Recommended treatment is 30 mg nifedipine of sustained-release once-daily formulation, and most women respond within two weeks.


An Underdiagnosed Cause of Nipple Pain Presented on a Camera Phone; BMJ 2009;339:b2553; O L Holmen, B Backe

Vasospasm of the Nipple–a manifestation of Raynaud’s phenomenon: case reports; BMJ 1997 314: 644; Laureen Lawlor-Smith and Carolyn Lawlor-Smith

*This blog post was originally published at Suture for a Living*

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