|

Expert Iconexpert advice MORE

Gynocomastia

Pediatrics Expert Advice from Shari Nethersole, M.D.

Q: My son is 14 years old and has developed "breast buds" -- hard knots under his nipples. The first one arrived in February, and the second one developed in April. Our pediatrician has told us that they are normal for boys developing. How long will he have these? They bother him so much he can't lay flat on his stomach at times. He has heard horror stories from other boys about having them cut out. Is there anything that we can do to make them go away or ease the discomfort?

A: Breast development during puberty occurs in about 70 percent of boys to some degree. The medical term for this is gynecomastia. It can be very minimal or quite marked, and it usually occurs on both sides but can sometimes occur just on one side. It is most apparent in boys whose puberty is progressing rapidly.

It occurs because of a transient imbalance between how much estrogen and testosterone the body produces. It generally doesn't require any type of hormonal treatment, however, and will gradually go away on its own. Only very rarely does anyone need surgery to remove the breasts. It can take a while to go away though. For most boys it lasts less than a year, but occasionally lasts for 2 to 3 years.

As you described, the breast buds can be rather sensitive and tender to touch. It is helpful to wear loose fitting undershirts, and avoid anything tight, or that puts any pressure on the nipples. He will likely need to avoid lying flat on his stomach for a while There really isn't much you can do to make them go away sooner. Boys do tend to tease each other about it, and this can be embarassing for some children. It's important to reassure boys about this, and give them some emotional support.

If a child seems to have significant emotional disturbances because of the gynecomastia, if he has other medical or endocrine problems, or if it lasts longer than 2 years, then further medical evaluation may be indicated, and you should have him revaluated by his pediatrician.

More on: Expert Advice

Shari Nethersole is a physician at Children's Hospital, Boston, and an instructor in Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School. She graduated from Yale University and Harvard Medical School, and did her internship and residency at Children's Hospital, Boston. As a pediatrician, she tries to work with parents to identify and address their concerns.


Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of FamilyEducation.com should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.

stay connected

Sign up for our free email newsletters and receive the latest advice and information on all things parenting.

Enter your email address to sign up or manage your account.

Facebook icon Twitter icon Follow Us on Pinterest

editor’s picks

highlights

Healthy Smile Checklist for Kids
Have better dental check-ups with this free printable checklist that helps keep your child flossing, brushing, and smiling! Brought to you by Philips Sonicare.

Kindergarten Readiness App
It's kindergarten registration time! Use this interactive kindergarten readiness checklist, complete with fun games and activities, to practice the essential skills your child needs for this next big step. Download the Kindergarten Readiness app today!

8 Easter Egg Decorating Ideas
Need some fun ideas for decorating Easter eggs with the kids? Look no further for colorful and cool designs!

7 Ways to Curb Kids' Exposure to Violence
American children are exposed to violence more often than you might think. Learn how to limit your child's exposure to violence and manage the mental health and behavioral effects it can cause.