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Noticed sudden increase in breast size and have crusty nipples. Concerned

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General & Family Physician
Practicing since : 2001
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IIn the last 6 weeks my right breast has suddenly increased in size by a couple of cup sizes, I have crusty nipples but no oozing, and this evening large dark veins have appeared on same breast. I have occassional pain not associated with my periods and occassional burning/stabbing pain behind my nipple. I have no rash, pitting of skin, very tired for a few months. Def not pregnant as have abstained from sex for 3 years. Not on the pill. I am concerned.....
Posted Thu, 15 Nov 2012 in Women's Health
Answered by Dr. Michelle Gibson James 3 hours later
Hi, thanks for using health care magic.

It is understandable to be concerned.
The dark veins are as a result of swelling or increase in size of the breast, when an area of the body is swollen or the tissue congested then the superficial veins in that area become more prominant.
Crusting of the nipple can occur as a result of eczema or dermatitis of the nipple which is basically a reaction of the skin of the nipple.It would be treated by use of a topical steroid creams, moisturising creams,antibiotic creams if necessary and avoiding aggravating creams/lotions/soaps.
I believe, however, that it would be best for you to see your doctor for an assessment and investigations.
This is because, crusting of a unilateral (one side) nipple may ,in some persons, (usually in older persons) be associated with breast cancer, it is called Pagets disease of the nipple/breast.
Infection of the breast can also cause swelling on one side, this would normally be associated with tenderness,pain,fever, discharge,redness and increased warmth.It is treated with warm compresses and oral antibiotics.

You need to consider, if possible, visiting your local GP as soon as possible, it may simply and quite likely be eczema but it is best to rule out any more serious possiblities.

I wish all the best and hope this answers your questions.Feel free to ask any other questions
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Follow-up: Noticed sudden increase in breast size and have crusty nipples. Concerned 7 hours later
There is no increased warm in my breast or redness to the colour. The whole breast feels quite hard and heavy almost like when my breasts were engorged after daughter was born (2008). Iv had mastitis before and it feels nothing like that either. Could any of these symptoms be linked to fibrocystic changes, peri menopause etc? Im aware of the symptoms that can mimic breast cancer but was wondering about non cancerous possibilities?
Answered by Dr. Michelle Gibson James 5 hours later
Hi, there are non cancerous possibilities like infection of the breast (mastitis) or eczema of the nipple (the inflammation from the eczema may result in swelling).
In terms of perimenopausal changes, there would be no reason for one breast to be affected by hormonal changes and not the other.
Lumps in the breast, can be non cancerous such as fibroadenoma.
Still, it is always best to have it check out to rule out any more troubling problems, the aim being, to find any lesions early rather than late.

It may not be anything significant and I appreciate that you are worried but you need to be assessed as soon as you can, it would be in your best interest to rule out the XXXXXXX possibilities.

wish you all the best, feel free to ask any other questions
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
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