How to Heal Cracked Nipples from Breastfeeding

Many people experience some nipple pain from breastfeeding or chestfeeding or cracked nipples from breastfeeding or chestfeeding. Mild nipple pain is expected and should fade in a few days. As you continue breastfeeding or chestfeeding your baby, the experience should become more comfortable.

However, you may continue experiencing nipple soreness when breastfeeding. Some people notice that their nipples become painfully sore, chapped, or even bleed. Several factors may contribute to sore nipples, including a poor latch or incorrect use of the breast pump. It may result in early weaning and a low supply of breast milk.

Here are some of the ways to treat cracked nipples from breastfeeding.

Warm Compress

If you have nipple pain from breastfeeding, consider using warm, damp compresses to soothe the cracked nipples. To do this, get a clean washcloth and dip it in warm water. Squeeze out the excess water and place it over your nipple for a few minutes. You can try this several times a day.

The soothing water can help to minimize the pain. If you find your nipples are getting more cracked or irritated from this technique, consider allowing your nipples a chance to dry as wetness can sometimes cause more irritation (like licking your lips).

Change Nursing Pads Frequently

Be sure to change your nursing pads immediately when you notice that they are getting damp. Allowing moisture to accumulate on your nipples may delay the healing. Make sure your nursing pads are made from 100% cotton material. Synthetic materials can hold more moisture on the skin, leading to more irritation. Avoid pads containing a plastic lining as the plastic usually obstructs airflow.

Use Freshly Expressed Breast Milk

Applying freshly expressed breast milk offers antibacterial protection to your nipples and will aid in healing. Breastmilk is right there, ready to help you heal, making it easy for you to apply after breastfeeding or chest feeding your child.

Ensure that your hands are clean before you gently express some breast milk. Apply the milk to your nipples and areolas, and allow it to dry. When the milk dries (air-dry), cover your nipples with a breast pad or your bra.

Rinse with Salt Water

Follow the following procedure:

i. Add ½ teaspoon of salt to eight ounces of warm water and stir
ii. Place the solution in a bowl and soak your nipples in it for one minute
iii. A squirt bottle can also help to spread the saline solution to every part of your nipple

It is essential to make a fresh saline solution every day to minimize the risk of bacterial infection. Additionally, rinse your nipples with clean water before breastfeeding as baby may not like the salty taste.

Use Medical-Grade Lanolin or Natural Ointment

Lanolin or natural ointments made for application by breastfeeding and chestfeeding parents will help in healing the wound. Apply after your feed your baby.

All-Purpose Nipple Ointment

New parents often as for this ointment when they have cracked nipples from breastfeeding. It is a mixture of antibiotics (mupirocin), topical steroid (betamethasone), and anti-fungal powder (miconazole). We suggest applying sparingly to the nipples, enough to make them shiny. It is safe for babies and has been used for decades to help heal painful, chapped, and even bleeding nipples.

Keep them covered

There are commercial products available such as Silverrette’s and breast shells that can be worn inside the bra to protect nipples from chafing, and some can collect excess breast milk.

Bottom-line

Nipple pain from breastfeeding can be quite uncomfortable and can make your feeding experience less enjoyable. Treating nipple soreness when breastfeeding or chestfeeding can be a challenge because you want to ensure that whatever you apply will not affect your baby. Be wary of using products that should not be ingested because they can harm your baby. Luckily there are plenty of options to treat damaged nipples. If you have pain from breastfeeding or chestfeeding, please discuss with your healthcare provider or International Board Certified Lactation Consultant to ensure the baby is latching and feeding well.

FAQ

Q: Is it normal to have cracked nipples from breastfeeding?

Answer: Nipple pain from breastfeeding is very common. It can be a sign of a poor latch, and it worth discussing with an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant to ensure the baby is latching well and ensure your nipples get a chance to heal.

Q: What can I put on my cracked nipples?

Answer: Consider applying warm compresses, freshly expressed milk, nipple ointment, or prescription cream to your nipples to help them heal.

Q: My nipples are damaged and tender. What can I cover them with?

Answer: Many products on the market can help cover your painful nipples, including breast shells and Silverettes. If you are experiencing nipple pain from breastfeeding or chestfeeding, please discuss with your healthcare provider and International Board Certified Lactation Consultant to ensure you have the best latch.

Dr. Dina Kulik Pediatrician at Kidcrew Medical, Toronto Ontario

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About Dr. Dina Kulik MD, FRCPC, PEM

Dr. Dina Kulik completed her Pediatrics Residency and Pediatric Emergency Medicine Fellowship at the Hospital for Sick Children. Dr. Dina is one of Canada’s leading child health media experts, providing child health information through television, radio, print media, and via her blog DrDina.ca. Above all, Dina’s greatest joy is her family, and being the mom of four crazy boys.

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