The Montgomery Glands

A newborn and his mother at maternity ward
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The Montgomery glands or Montgomery tubercles are small glands around the nipples on the areola. They are typically not noticeable until a woman becomes pregnant. During pregnancy, as the breasts grow to prepare for breastfeeding, the Montgomery glands also get larger. They begin to erupt and may look like pimples on the nipple and areola.

The number of visible bumps on the areola is different for each woman. Each areola can have anywhere from 0 to approximately 40 tubercles, with an average of about 10 to 15 on each side. There are more in the upper, outer part of the areola, and the size of the areola doesn't affect the number of glands there are.

What Montgomery Glands Do

The Montgomery glands are a combination of milk glands and sebaceous glands. They can release a small amount of breast milk, but they mostly produce a natural, oily substance that cleans and lubricates the nipple and areola. This oily substance contains antibacterial properties. It helps to protect the breasts from infection by preventing the growth of microorganisms and germs.

The areolar glands are believed to play an important role in getting breastfeeding off to a good start, attachment, and bonding. They give off a scent that can help the newborn find the nipple and encourage the baby to latch on and breastfeed immediately after birth.

Studies show that the babies of women with more areolar glands find the breast and begin breastfeeding faster than those with fewer areolar glands. More Montgomery glands are also associated with better newborn growth.

How to Care for Montgomery Glands

Since the Montgomery glands provide a natural moisturizer for your nipples, you don't need to use lanolin or any other nipple cream to moisturize your nipples. Additionally, when caring for your nursing breast, be careful about the soaps and other products that you use. Harsh, antibacterial soaps can wash away or interfere with this natural protection. Here are some tips for caring for your Montgomery glands.

  • Leave them alone: As long as your nipples and areola are soft and healthy, leave the Montgomery glands alone. Wash your breasts with warm water and avoid soaps that can wash away the protective substance secreted by your Montgomery glands.
  • Ask your doctor: If you have any concerns about how your glands or nipples, ask your doctor to examine your breasts.
  • Avoid popping: Even though these glands may look like pimples on your breast, they are not pimples. You shouldn't try to pop them.
  • Do not treat with acne medication. Not only can acne medication dry out your areola, but many acne treatments are dangerous. You should avoid them while you're pregnant and breastfeeding. 
  • Do not use nipple creams, lotions, or ointments on your breasts to try to prevent nipple problems. These are not necessary unless you have very sore, cracked nipples, or an infection. Some nipple creams can even make the problems worse. If you have a breast or nipple issue, talk to your healthcare provider before trying to treat the problem on your own.


Even though the Montgomery glands help to kill germs and keep the areola clean, they cannot completely prevent breast problems. It is still possible for the areolar glands to become irritated and infected. This is more likely if your nipples and areola become cracked and damaged.

It is important to check your breasts regularly. When you know what's normal, it will be easier to recognize when something looks different. For example, you can expect raised Montgomery glands during pregnancy and breastfeeding. But if you notice that they become red, swollen (larger than they were), and painful, or you get a fever, you should contact your doctor for an examination and treatment.


Montgomery glands are a healthy part of your breast anatomy. Once your baby is born, and breastfeeding has ended, those little bumps may shrink back down on their own. However, if they don't go away or you have concerns about them, you can talk to your doctor.

A minor surgery will get rid of Montgomery glands. Your provider will make an incision to remove the bumps. This should not interfere with your ability to breastfeed in the future. Surgery to remove Montgomery glands doesn't affect your breast tissue or milk ducts.

5 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Doucet S, Soussignan R, Sagot P, Schaal B. The secretion of areolar (Montgomery's) glands from lactating women elicits selective, unconditional responses in neonates. PLoS ONE. 2009;4(10):e7579. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0007579

  2. Doucet S, Soussignan R, Sagot P, Schaal B. An overlooked aspect of the human breast: Areolar glands in relation with breastfeeding pattern, neonatal weight gain, and the dynamics of lactation. Early Hum Dev. 2012;88(2):119-28. doi:10.1016/j.earlhumdev.2011.07.020

  3. Riordan J, Wambach K. Breastfeeding and Human Lactation. Jones & Bartlett Learning; 2010.

  4. Da Costa D, Taddese A, Cure ML, Gerson D, Poppiti R, Esserman LE. Common and unusual diseases of the nipple-areolar complex. Radiographics. 2007;27 Suppl 1:S65-77. doi:10.1148/rg.27si075512

  5. Zucca-Matthes G, Urban C, Vallejo A. Anatomy of the nipple and breast ducts. Gland Surg. 2016;5(1):32-6. doi:10.3978/j.issn.2227-684X.2015.05.10

Additional Reading

By Donna Murray, RN, BSN
Donna Murray, RN, BSN has a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Rutgers University and is a current member of Sigma Theta Tau, the Honor Society of Nursing.