There are two times when a healthy woman experiences breast growth. The first time is when she enters puberty. The release of female hormones at this time cause the breasts to develop. The second time is when she becomes pregnant and the breasts begin to produce milk. Breast growth causes the breasts, nipples and sometime the surrounding tissue to become sensitive to the touch. The area may itch and develop stretch marks as the breasts expand, and the nipples can hurt.
The onset of puberty can begin as early as age 7 or 8. The development of breast buds is one of the first signs of impending puberty. The tissue in the breasts begin to swell, and the nipples begin to expand. This can cause the nipples to become tender to the touch, and they may ache. A good bra can help to prevent rubbing and chafing of the tender nipples.
Breast development will continue through out puberty until full maturity is reached at around age 17 or 18. The itching, aching and painful nipples associated with puberty usually only last for the first year.
Pregnancy causes the breasts to grow as they begin to prepare for milk production. This can result in an increase in breast size by up to two cup sizes along with burning, tingling or throbbing pain in the breasts and nipples. First-time mothers tend to have more pronounced nipple and breast pain than women having subsequent pregnancies.
Nipple pain due to pregnancy is typically most pronounced during the first trimester and typically disappears during the second or third trimester. Although it is unusual, some pregnant women experience engorgement of the drainage ducts that lead from the milk glands to the nipple. This can cause the nipples to remain painfully erect.
The best way to treat sore or aching nipples due to breast growth is to wear proper-fitting bras. This will help to support the breasts and prevent painful chafing of the nipple against your outer clothing. Some women find relief by soaking in a warm tub or by applying a warm washcloth over their nipples.