The Montgomery Glands

The Defintion and Care of Areolar Glands

Montgomery glands look like small bumps on the areola. Karen Cochrane/Getty Images

The Montgomery glands are small glands located around the nipples on the areola. They are typically not noticeable until pregnancy when they begin to get larger and bumpy. The number of glands visible on the areola can be different for each woman. It ranges from 0 to approximately 40 with an average of about 10 to 15 on each side. Since they are glands, these little bumps produce an important secretion. They also give off a scent. It is believed that this scent helps the newborn to find the nipple, and it encourages the baby to latch on and breastfeed after birth.

The Montgomery glands are a combination of milk glands and sebaceous glands.

They can release a small amount of breast milk, but they mostly secrete a natural, oily substance that cleans and lubricates the nipple and areola. This oily secretion also contains antibacterial properties which may help to protect the breasts from infection.

Since the Montgomery glands provide a natural moisturizer for your nipples, you shouldn't need to use nipple creams, ointments, or lotions to protect your nipples. Additionally, when you are caring for your nursing breast, you should be careful about the soaps and other types of products that you use. You do not want to use harsh, antibacterial soaps that could wash away or interfere with this natural protection.

How to Care for Your Montgomery Glands

  • As long as your nipples and areola are soft and healthy, leave the Montgomery glands alone. If you have any concerns about how they look, have your doctor examine your breasts.
  • Even though these glands can look like pimples on your breast, they are not pimples and you should not pop them.
  • Do not try to treat them with acne medication either. Acne medication can dry out your areola, and more importantly, many acne treatments are dangerous and should be avoided during pregnancy and breastfeeding
  • Wash your breasts with warm water and avoid using harsh soaps that can wash away the protective substance secreted by your Montgomery glands.

The Montgomery Glands Are Also Known As: Montgomery's glands, areolar glands, Montgomery tubercles, the glands of Montgomery


American Academy of Pediatrics. New Mother’s Guide To Breastfeeding. Bantam Books. New York. 2011.

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.

Lawrence, Ruth A., MD, Lawrence, Robert M., MD. Breastfeeding A Guide For The Medical Profession Seventh Edition.  Mosby. 2011.

Schaal, B., Doucet, S., Sagot, P., Hertling, E., & Soussignan, R. (2006). Human breast areolae as scent organs: Morphological data and possible involvement in maternal‐neonatal coadaptation. Developmental psychobiology. 48(2); 100-110.

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