The human areola (areola mammae, /əˈrələ/[1][2] or /ˌæriˈlə/[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.

Breast schematic diagram
(adult female human cross section)
Legend: 1. Thoracic 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 mature human female nipple has several small openings arranged radially around the tip of the lactiferous ducts from which milk is released during lactation. Other small openings in the areola are sebaceous glands, also known as areolar glands.[4]

Shade edit

The areolae can range from pink to red to 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

Female areola measuring 83 mm (3.25 in).
A young woman with large and hairy areolae.

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.[7]

Rated according to the Tanner scale of female physical development, the areolae enlarge during stage 3, but they show no separation of contour. During stage 4, the areolae and papillae rise above breast level and form secondary mounds. By stage 5, the breasts have fully developed. As this has resulted in recession of the areolae, the papillae may reach a little above the breasts' contour.[8]

Mechanoreceptors edit

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

Diseases edit

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

References edit

  1. ^ OED 2nd edition, 1989.
  2. ^ a b "areola". Dictionary.
  3. ^ The plural of areola is areolas or areolae (/əˈrəˌli/ or /ˌæriˈˌli, ˌɛr-/). Areola is the diminutive of Latin area, meaning "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. Bibcode:2009PLoSO...4.7579D. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0007579. PMC 2761488. PMID 19851461.
  5. ^ Fletcher, Jenna (3 April 2018). "Dark nipples: 7 causes and when to see a doctor". Medical News Today. Archived from the original on 2019-02-10. Retrieved 2019-02-10.
  6. ^ 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. S2CID 40150919.
  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): 209. doi:10.1186/s12884-016-0999-4. ISSN 1471-2393. PMC 4975913. PMID 27496088.
  8. ^ J. Zitelli, Basil; McIntire, Sara C; J Nowalk, Andrew (2017). Zitelli and Davis' Atlas of Pediatric Physical Diagnosis E-Book. Elsevier Health Sciences. p. 345. ISBN 978-0323511858.