Montgomery Glands

April 19, 2017 | 0 Comments

Montgomery gland or popularly known as areolar gland is a sebaceous gland that surrounds the nipple. It creates oily secretion to keep the areola as well as the nipple protected and well lubricated. It also has volatile compound that serves as olfactory stimuli for newborn’s appetite.

The visible portion of the Montgomery gland is called Montgomery tubercles. When the nipple is stimulated, the tubercles are exposed and raised. During pregnancy, the tubercles become more pronounced.

The number of glands vary, but the average number is between four and 28 per breast. Montgomery gland is named after Dr. William Fetherstone Montgomery, an obstetrician who first described them. (1)

The basic anatomical structure of the breast.picture

Image 1 : The basic anatomical structure of the breast
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A woman breastfeeding her

Picture : A woman breastfeeding her baby
Image Source :

A mom breastfeeding her newborn.image
Figure 3 : A mom breastfeeding her newborn
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A thorough description of the Montgomery gland

Montgomery glands are located below the surface of the areola. The areola is a circular area of darkened skin that surrounds the nipple. The color of the areola outlines the location of mammary gland, the gland where the milk is produced and travel to the nipples through the lobules and ducts.

A pregnant woman notices a small raised pink or red bumps around the nipple, especially when the gland is stimulated. Do not worry. It is just a normal reaction. The bump will just subside on its own. (2)

Role and function

The nipple is made from sensitive tissues and is prone to dryness and irritation. Hence, a Montgomery gland is needed to secrete natural oil to keep the nipple moisturized and protected from various environmental factors.

As mentioned above, during pregnancy the Montgomery gland becomes prominent. It increases in size, but most importantly, it has a significant role to play when a baby is born. The oil that the gland secretes stimulate the baby’s appetite, especially after birth. The smell of the oil triggers a region in the newborn’s brain that controls hunger. (3)

The Montgomery gland assists your newborn to find your breast. Once the baby comes out and placed on the chest of the mother, a skin to skin contact will entice the newborn to find the mother’s breast and suck it. It is not just the sense of attachment, but survival for babies too. Babies primarily rely on the mother’s milk to survive their first few months on earth. (4)

Can a Montgomery gland gets infected and irritated?

The Montgomery gland, being on the surface of the breast makes it susceptible to infection and irritation. Mastitis is the common infection involving the mammary gland and the surrounding glands and tissues. Lactating women are prone to infection and most of the time, they require medical treatment to totally get rid of the infection.

Women with jogger’s nipple are prone to irritation too. It is characterized by fissure of the nipple and it takes place when the nipples are repeatedly and constantly stimulated. The Montgomery gland gets overwhelmed and can no longer keep up with adequate lubrication.

Symptoms of jogger’s nipple include the following:

  • Soreness of the nipple
  • Dryness
  • Bleeding in one or both nipples

The Montgomery gland can be clogged too, which causes the gland to stop working properly. A clogged Montgomery gland can be a host of other problems. It causes the nipples to be itchy and dry. Along with itchiness and dryness are other symptoms like breast tenderness and swelling of the nipples.

Any issues in the Montgomery gland can significantly affect other areas of the breast including the areola and the mammary glands. (5, 6)

The primary cause of infection are bacteria. Hence, any problems involving the Montgomery gland and the rest of the breast can be remedied using antibiotics. In rare instances, a complete excision of the areola is needed. It is usually common in people with chronic infection of the Montgomery gland. If you feel like there is something wrong with your breast, then might as well consult your doctor right away.

Aside from bacterial infection, a Montgomery gland can also be infected by certain ointments, the type of fabric used for your bra, the type of soap you are using, excessive use of breast pads, among many others. If you are at home and immediate medical help is not yet available, you can somehow ease the discomfort by soaking the nipple in salt water.

To create your own salt water, you just need to mix a teaspoon of salt in a cup of warm water. In a shallow cup, soak your nipple including the areola for about a few minutes. Do not attempt to use antibiotics unless it is prescribe by your doctor. Again, if you feel that something is usual with your breast, be it your nipple or areola, you have to speak with your doctor for proper treatment and remedy. (7)

How to prevent infection or irritation of the Montgomery gland?

To avoid infection and irritation of the Montgomery gland, the best thing to do is to keep your nipples protected at all times. If you are engaged in active sports such as runners and joggers, it is a must to find a perfect fitting sports bra. It can also help if you are going to place a bandage over the nipples prior to performing rigorous exercise. The bandage serves as a barrier between the clothing and the skin.

If you are a nursing mom, you can prevent irritation and infection by providing additional lubrication. You can use natural oils or lanolin. You have to apply lubrication before and after breastfeeding so as to augment the lubrication of the gland. Make sure that the lubricant you use is tested and proven safe for babies.

Choose a lubricant that is specially designed for breastfeeding moms. If you are unsure as to what type of lubricant to use, the best thing to do is to ask your doctor whether he/she can suggest a particular brand. It is always a good idea to ask help from experts. Do not just use ordinary lubricants because your baby will ingest it and it might have unusual effect to you and your baby. (8, 9)


  8. Management of Breast Diseases edited by Ismail Jatoi, Achim Rody
  9. Maternal and Infant Assessment for Breastfeeding and Human Lactation: A Guide for the Practitioner Second Edition By Karin Cadwell, Barbara O’Connor

Published on April 19th, 2017 by under Uncategorized.
Article was last reviewed on April 19th, 2017.

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