Actually, there are eight different kinds of nipples, says Dr. Tsippora Shainhouse, M.D., a board-certified pediatrician and dermatologist in Beverly Hills, California, and a clinical instructor at the University of Southern California. All of them are normal, and it’s certainly possible to have a combination of two or more types (like protruding and bumpy, or flat and hairy, for example). You probably know that breasts come in all different sizes and colors, but did you know that there are different types of nipples, too?
Protruding: This refers to nipples that are raised a few millimeters above the surface of the areola and point outwards. The nipple can harden and become more pronounced with cold or stimulation.
Flat: The entire nipple is flat and blends into the areola. The nipple can harden and become more pronounced with cold or stimulation.
Puffy: The entire areola and nipple area looks like a small, raised mound on top of the breast. The nipple can harden and become more pronounced with cold or stimulation.
Inverted: The nipple retracts inwards. Sometimes, you can use your fingers to bring it out, but sometimes, the muscles are too tight.
Unilateral inverted: One nipple is raised, the other is inverted. If this has always been the case, it’s perfectly safe. If this is a new development, it might be a sign of breast cancer, so see your doctor immediately.
Bumpy: It’s common to have bumps on the areola surrounding the nipple. These bumps are called Montgomery glands and can sometimes look like whiteheads. Sometimes, you might be able to squeeze dead skin cells out of them, but don’t play with them. Every woman has the glands, but some people are bumpier than others.
Hairy: Stray, dark hairs growing out of the areola area are normal. They might be fine or coarse. It’s safe to pluck them out with a tweezer. Every woman has hair follicles, but some people are hairier than others.
Supernumerary: Some people have extra, smaller nipples. They either look like flat moles or have a fully-formed, raised bump.