From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from Areolas)
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Female Areola.jpg
Breast anatomy normal scheme.png
Breast schematic diagram
(adult female human cross section)
Legend: 1. Chest wall 2. Pectoralis muscles
3. Lobules 4. Nipple 5. Areola 6. Duct
7. Fatty tissue 8. Skin
Latinareola mammae
Anatomical terminology
A male areola

The human areola (areola mammae, /əˈrələ/[1][2] or /æriˈlə/[2][3]) is the pigmented area on the breast around the nipple. Areola, more generally, is a small circular area on the body with a different histology from the surrounding tissue, or other small circular areas such as an inflamed region of skin.

The mature human female nipple has several small openings arranged radially around the tip of the nipple (lactiferous ducts) from which milk is released during lactation. Other small openings in the areola are sebaceous glands, known as Montgomery's glands.[4]


The difference between coloring of areolae.

The areolae can range from pink to red to chocolate brown to dark brown or nearly black, but generally tend to be paler among people with lighter skin tones and darker among people with darker skin tones. A reason for the differing color may be to make the nipple area more visible to the infant.[5]

Size and shape[edit]

Large areolae on a woman. Adult women have areolae of an average of 38.1 mm (1.5 in), but sizes range up to 100 mm (4 in) or greater.[6]

The size and shape of areolae and nipples are also highly variable, with those of women usually being larger than those of men and prepubescent girls. Human areolae are mostly circular in shape, but many women have large areolae that are noticeably elliptical.

The average diameter of male areolae is around 28.0 mm (1.1 in). Sexually mature women have an average of 38.1 mm (1.5 in), but sizes can exceed 100 mm (4 in).[6] Lactating women, and women with particularly large breasts, may have even larger areolae. A function of the specialized dermis of the areola is to protect the regular breast skin from wear, cracking, and irritation. Infants sometimes create trauma to the nipple and areolae by latching-on of the infant.[7] Another function of an areola is to house slowly-adapting mechanoreceptors that trigger oxytocin excretion during nursing. The size of the areola implies a need to protect a larger area than the nipple due to many factors that are not fully known.[citation needed]

Rated according to the Tanner scale of physical development, in stage four, the areolae are raised.[8] In stage five, they are no longer raised.[8]


Breastfeeding by the baby innervates slowly adapting and rapidly adapting mechanoreceptors that are densely packed around the areolar region.


Paget's disease of the breast is a malignant condition that outwardly may have the appearance of eczema, with skin changes involving the areola and nipple.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ OED 2nd edition, 1989.
  2. ^ a b Entry "areola" in Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary.
  3. ^ The plural of areola is areolas or areolae, which is pronounced /əˈriːəliː/ or /əˈriːəlaɪ/. "Areola" is the diminutive of Latin area, "open place".
  4. ^ Doucet S, Soussignan R, Sagot P, Schaal B (2009). "The Secretion of Areolar (Montgomery's) Glands from Lactating Women Elicits Selective, Unconditional Responses in Neonates". PLoS ONE. 4 (10): e7579. Retrieved 9 January 2016.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  5. ^ "Dark nipples: 7 causes and when to see a doctor". Medical News Today. Retrieved 2019-02-10.
  6. ^ a b Hussain, M.; Rynn, L.; Riordan, C.; Regan, P. J. (2003). "Nipple-areola reconstruction: outcome assessment". European Journal of Plastic Surgery. 26 (7): 356–358. doi:10.1007/s00238-003-0566-x.
  7. ^ Santos, Kamila Juliana da Silva; Santana, Géssica Silva; Vieira, Tatiana de Oliveira; Santos, Carlos Antônio de Souza Teles; Giugliani, Elsa Regina Justo; Vieira, Graciete Oliveira (2016). "Prevalence and factors associated with cracked nipples in the first month postpartum". BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth. 16 (1). doi:10.1186/s12884-016-0999-4. ISSN 1471-2393. PMC 4975913. PMID 27496088.
  8. ^ a b Le, Tao; Bhushan, Vikas; Tolles, Juliana (2011). First Aid for the USMLE Step 1 2011. McGraw-Hill Medical.