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can you get std from nipples

By: Karen Terry

April 1, 2023

Can You Get STD From Nipples?

If you notice anything unusual about your breasts or nipples, you might wonder, “Can you get an STD from nipples?”

It’s a common misconception that STDs only spread through penetrative sex. Certain STDs can spread from person to person through breast contact, especially if you’re lactating and producing breast milk.

Before you start to worry, you should know that it’s difficult to transmit STDs simply by touching the breast of an infected person. The chance of catching an STD through nipples and breasts depends on several factors, which we discuss below.

STD Transmission

Many STDs spread only through contact with an infected person’s bodily fluids, such as breast milk, saliva, or blood. Still, it’s possible to transmit some STDs even if you don’t engage in penetrative sex.


HIV only spreads through certain bodily fluids, including sexual fluids, blood, and breast milk. Many people think HIV can spread through saliva, but this isn’t the case. 

Can this STD spread through nipples? No, HIV can’t spread through skin-to-skin contact, which means it’s impossible to contract HIV simply by touching the breast of an HIV-positive person, especially if they have an undetectable level of viral load. You can, however, transmit HIV through breast milk to nursing babies. 


This STD is caused by herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) and herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2). Herpes is an STD that causes dry skin and painful sores on the mouth and/or genitals. HSV-1 is the most common type: Approximately 67% of people have the virus worldwide. 

Herpes has no cure, and it’s possible to contract the virus from someone even if they display no symptoms. If you suspect you have herpes, take a rapid STD test before engaging in sexual contact with your partner.

HSV-1, also known as oral herpes, spreads through mouth-to-mouth contact, such as kissing. It can also spread by sharing eating utensils, straws, and drinks. HSV-2, or genital herpes, spreads through sexual contact, such as vaginal and anal sex.

You can spread herpes through mouth-to-breast contact if you have a herpes outbreak on your chest.


Syphilis is caused by a bacterium called Treponema pallidum. This STD spreads through direct contact with syphilitic sores or chancres. Infected individuals can transmit syphilis via oral, vaginal, and anal sex. Pregnant women can also transmit syphilis to unborn children. 

Can syphilis be transmitted through nipples? Yes, if a syphilitic sore is on the breast or touches a sexual partner’s breast, the infection can spread. 


Gonorrhea can spread through mucous membranes and sexual contact, even if ejaculation hasn’t occurred. This STD can also spread from mothers to their unborn children.

Contracting STDs Without Having Penetrative Sex

Penetrative sex isn’t the only way to transmit or contract STDs. STDs that can spread without penetrative sex include:

  • Hepatitis A, B, and C
  • Pubic lice and scabies
  • Herpes
  • HPV
  • Trichomoniasis

A child can get an STD like herpes or syphilis that spreads through contact with skin or infected sores. 

STDs on the Breast

Most STDs do not present with visible symptoms on the breasts of infected persons. Two STDs that do cause people to develop symptoms on breasts are herpes and syphilis.

Herpes on Breasts

You may be wondering, “Can you get herpes on your nipple?” Herpes is one STD that can show up on breasts, although it’s rare. A herpes outbreak on your chest can spread to your breasts. Herpes on breasts can present as:

  • Swelling
  • Itchiness
  • Red patches
  • Sores on the nipples and surrounding breast tissue
  • Fluid-filled blisters

It’s rare to transmit herpes to the breasts simply by touching them. However, it is possible to contract herpes through oral-to-nipple contact, which can cause herpes lesions to develop on the breasts. 

If you see symptoms of the herpes virus on your breasts, take an STD test before engaging in sexual activity or breastfeeding. Rapid STD Testing offers same-day STD testing so you’ll get your results fast.

Syphilis on Breasts

Syphilis is another STD that can cause symptoms on your breasts.

In the primary stage, syphilitic sores can appear on breasts, lips, vagina, vulva, penis, anus, and scrotum. These sores are typically round, firm, and painless, but they can occasionally be open and wet. Often, people mistake chancres for pimples or ingrown hairs. You’ll notice chancres within three weeks to three months after you get infected.

The secondary stage of syphilis presents as a rash on breasts and other parts of the body. Infected people may also have fatigue, sore throat, body aches, headaches, and other flu-like symptoms.

Risks of Breastfeeding with STDs

Can kids get STDs from parents? Unfortunately, yes. Breastfeeding with an STD can harm babies and children in several ways. According to medical advice, effects may include:

  • Blood or eye infection
  • Blindness
  • Deafness
  • Chronic liver disease
  • Acute hepatitis
  • Pneumonia
  • Meningitis

If you breastfeed, you probably want to know, “Can you get an STD from nipples?” It’s possible to transmit some STDs through breast milk.

  • Herpes:  Do not breastfeed your baby if you have open sores on your breasts, nipples, or areolas. It’s safe to hand-express or pump milk into bottles, but if breast milk or any part of the pump touches a sore, throw the milk away. Breastfeeding with herpes sores can be painful, so use nipple cream to ease discomfort.
  • HIV: Do not breastfeed if you have HIV, as it can easily spread through breast milk to your baby. Opt for formula feeding instead.
  • Trichomoniasis: Treat trichomoniasis with an antibiotic from your healthcare provider and wait 12 to 24 hours before breastfeeding. Many people confuse trichomoniasis with a yeast infection and other skin conditions, but they’re not the same. If you notice pain during sex, stinging while urinating, or unusual vaginal discharge, contact your doctor before breastfeeding.

It’s safe to breastfeed if you have HPV, gonorrhea, or chlamydia, as you can’t transmit them through breast milk to your baby.

Prevention of STDs

So can you get an STD from nipples? The answer is yes, in some cases. If you’re concerned about contracting an STD, there are several things you can do to minimize your risks, including:

  • Avoid sharing beverages, straws, and utensils with a person who has oral herpes
  • Avoid kissing or oral contact with a partner who has open sores on their lips, mouth, or tongue
  • Wash your hands before eating food prepared by someone with Hepatitis A
  • Avoid sharing razors, which can transmit Hepatitis A, B, and C
  • Avoid sharing needles with someone who has HIV
  • Wash clothing and bedding with hot water to kill trichomoniasis and pubic lice

Safe Sex Practices

Although abstinence is the only surefire way to avoid STDs, you can lower your risk of infection with safer sex practices, including:

  • Using condoms during any type of sexual activity
  • Insisting on STD testing, such as a 10-panel STD test from Rapid STD Testing, before sex with every new partner
  • Getting vaccinated against HPV, which can cause breast cancer and other types of cancer
  • Sanitizing sex toys with soap and hot water after every use
  • Practicing monogamous sex with an uninfected partner
  • Taking prophylaxis drugs to avoid passing HIV to partners
  • Using over-the-counter treatments to recover from herpes outbreaks before sex

Stay on Top of Your Sexual Health with Fast and Reliable STD Testing

Now we’ve answered the question, “Can you get an STD from nipples?” If you are concerned about STD symptoms on your breast or passing an STD to your baby through breastfeeding, Rapid STD Testing is here for you. We offer discreet and convenient testing for herpes, hepatitis, syphilis, and many other common STDs. Order your test online or find a lab near you.


Get Tested for STDs and HIV Privately and Conveniently

No embarrassing exams, long waiting lines, or multiple visits. Just a quick lab visit for fast results.



By: Karen Terry
April 1, 2023

With a profound passion for making intricate medical information accessible to all, John possesses a unique ability to simplify complex concepts without sacrificing accuracy or depth. Armed with a comprehensive understanding of various healthcare fields, John is well-versed in the latest research and advancements. However, what truly sets him apart is his remarkable talent for distilling this wealth of knowledge into engaging, reader-friendly content.