I remember the first time I got bloody nipples while running.
It was a few years ago. After getting home from a long run on a hot day, I walked into the living room, only to find my sister looking at me with horror. I looked down and gasped upon seeing that my tee shirt was soaked in blood. It was only after I’d taken off my shirt that I realized that both my nipples were gushing blood.
I was completely freaked out, and worried that something was wrong with me.
Fast forward a few Google searches I learned that it was nothing to worry about and that avoiding the bloody condition is not rocket science. Once I applied some preventive measures, bloody nipples became a thing of the past.
If you’re looking for practical ways to prevent bloody nipples from running, this post is perfect for you.
How Does Running Cause Bloody Nipples?
Known as a fissure of the nipple (and colloquially called ‘jogger’s nipple’), this condition is a pretty common occurrence among male runners.
When you’re running, your body’s blood flow increases and blood comes closer to the surface of your skin. When this happens, most people’s nipples begin to harden.
Once your nipples get hard, continuous rubbing against the fabric of your shirt creates more friction than your skin is used to. Combine the direct effects of rubbing against clothing with the salt from sweat, and bloody nipples can happen.
They start as a stinging or burning sensation as the skin gets rubbed raw, and this can lead to bleeding if allowed to continue. After a while, you’ll experience a nasty cutting sensation with every stride you take.
Jogger’s nipple is more common in extremely hot or wet and cold weather and primarily affects male runners. Female runners tend not to have the issue as long as their sports bra provides adequate support.
How To Treat and Prevent Bloody Nipples
Thankfully, dear (mostly male) readers, preventing nipple bleeding while running is easy. Seriously, it’s super simple.
Here’s what you need to do
If you want to prevent chafing disasters—not just the nipples, but all over —start lubing. This is what helped me the most with nipple chafing.
How lubrication works is no mystery. Lube serves as a protective barrier between the nipple and the shirt, reducing undue friction. It also softens the nipples and keeps them from drying, which in turn lowers the risk of irritation.
As a rule, generously apply a lubricant like Body Glide or petroleum jelly to the nipple area before heading out for a run. Make sure to apply it to all the areas prone to chafing, including your underarms and thighs.
Make sure you apply it liberally, especially if you’re going to be running for a while. In some cases, especially during long runs, you may want to carry a small packet of it with you in case the constant running and sweating wear away the lubricant you’ve already applied.
2. Get the Right T-Shirt
Quite often, preventing bloody nipples is a simple matter of opting for the right clothing.
Here’s what I mean.
If your running T-shirt is either made of or has cotton in it, you’re asking for chafed nipples. Cotton is your nipples’ worst nightmare.
Instead of wearing a cotton shirt or bra, go for synthetic materials such as Coolmax, Dri-Fit, or polypropylene, especially for the layer that will be closest to your skin. These fabrics will help wick moisture away from your skin, keeping you dry and limiting friction.
Clothing made from technical fabric also dries faster than cotton, which is key because wet skin can make chafing worse.
If it’s appropriate and possible, you can also consider running shirtless — this should put an end to your upper body chafing issues.
For female runners, a properly-fitting bra that limits breast movement helps prevent jogger’s nipple, according to my research and the testimony of some of my female friends.
3. Use a Product
Some of my running friends use a product like NipGuards to protect their nipples. I’ve never used them. All I know is that they work and can cost about $10 for ten sets, and that can get expensive.
NipGuard, as the name implies, is a popular product designed to protect the nipples from the chafing caused by rubbing against upper body clothing. That, in theory, should prevent the condition.
According to the product’s official website, NipGuards are exceptionally sticky. They adhere directly to the nipple and stay on, even during long training runs.
If you can’t afford NipGuards, simply cover your nipples with Band-Aids or tape. I’ve done this many times, and it works just fine.
Keep in mind that these may not stick well if you’re sweating profusely, so you may have to experiment with a few options before you find what works best for you.
How To Treat Bloody Nipples
Treatment of bloody nipples depends on the severity of your injury, but here’s what should generally be done.
- Rinse the chafed nipples with lukewarm water and dry them thoroughly. I’d recommend doing this in the shower so you don’t have to apply pressure with a washcloth, or something else that may exacerbate your pain. You can also try cleaning the wound with hydrogen peroxide.
- To avoid further irritation, apply A&D ointment or Neosporin. Cover your nipple with sterile gauze, then use athletic tape to attach it to your chest. This can help prevent infection while your nipples heal.
- Err on the side of caution and take a couple of days off from running to give your nipples time to heal and recover.
- If your condition persists and your nipples are still swollen, crusted, or bleeding, seek medical help.
If the area is infected, you might need a prescription-strength antibiotic ointment. An underlying condition can also be the source of your trouble. These include eczema, psoriasis, impetigo, fungal infection, or allergic reaction.
Although bloody nipples are pretty common among runners of all fitness abilities, there’s no need to let the condition get in the way of your running routine.
The preventive measures shared here, along with a bit of forethought, can help you keep running strong.
Keep in mind that you may need to test out a few approaches or mix them before you find what works best for you. After all, no suit fits all.
In the meantime, thank you for dropping by.
Feel free to leave your comments or question in the section below.