Your guide to the Montgomery glands


by Lorna White |
Updated on

Although they're always there, you'll probably not notice the Montgomery glands until you're pregnant. These small glands can be found around the nipples on the areola. As our breasts grow larger during pregnancy, our Montgomery glands do too.

They may begin to look like small pimples around the nipples and the number of bumps is different for every woman. On average, each woman has around 10-15 Montgomery glands per side, but it can be up to 40.

What do the Montgomery glands do?

Although they can release a very small amount of breast milk, the Montgomery glands mostly produce an oily substance that works to keep the areola clean. This helps protect the breast from infections to prevent the growth of bacteria.

This natural and oily substance also gives off a scent that can help your newborn find the nipple and begin breastfeeding - clever, right? And if you are breastfeeding, read our article on how to soothe sore nipples when breastfeeding.

Looking after your Montgomery glands

As the Montgomery glands are there to keep your nipples soft and moisturised, nipple creams are often unnecessary unless the nipples are cracked and sore. Here are some tips on how to take care of your Montgomery glands.

Wash with warm water: To keep the nipples as naturally moisturised as possible, it's important to try and avoid harsh soaps on your nipples - warm water alone should be fine.

Don't pop your Montgomery glands: Although they might look similar to a juicy pimple, do not try and pop your glands. You should also not use any skin treatment or spot treatment on them either.

Speak to your GP: Always speak to a GP if you have any concerns about your glands or nipples.

Don't use acne creams or ointments: Avoid using any acne medication as this could dry out your areola. Check any packaging, but usually acne creams are not advised for use during pregnancy or while breastfeeding.

Infected Montgomery glands

The Montgomery glands might be there to prevent infection, but they can't completely protect your nipples against infection. It's important to keep a close eye on your breasts while you're breastfeeding so you can recognise any differences such as redness, itching, discharge or swelling.

If you do spot any differences or experience pain, it's important to speak to your GP or health visitor, as it could mean a gland is blocked or infected. In rare cases, changes in the nipple area can be a sign of breast cancer. Let your doctor know if you also spot a hard lump on your breast, dimpling of the skin or changes to the size and shape of one breast.

Can you see Montgomery glands if you're not pregnant?

Your Montgomery’s tubercles can enlarge in other scenarios too, not just pregnancy. Hormonal changes during puberty and during your menstrual cycle can also cause the glands to enlarge.

Other causes include stress, medications, weight changes, nipple stimulation and tight fitting bras.

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