Sore Nipples

Is it normal for my nipples to hurt?

Sore nipples are common with breastfeeding.

But breastfeeding should not hurt. And the skin on your nipple should not break down any more than the skin anywhere on your body should break down. Mild soreness or sensitivity is fairly common for the first 1 or 2 weeks of breastfeeding. Then it should go away.

What are some possible causes of sore nipples?

If latching is painful or your nipples or areolas feel bruised, it's likely related to an incorrect latch-on process or ineffective sucking. It may be a problem with your baby's latch or sucking if your nipples become very red, raw, blistered, or cracked. A latch or sucking problem or a structural issue in the baby's mouth might result in nipples that look creased or turn white at the end of feedings.

When nipples get red, burn, or feel very sore after weeks or months of pain-free breastfeeding, it may be due to an allergic reaction or type of infection. A type of yeast infection called thrush may appear as white patches in the baby's mouth. Or it may show up as a bright red diaper rash. If your baby has thrush, it can be transferred to your nipples. Certain medicines are needed to treat yeast and other infections or allergic reactions. Contact both your healthcare provider and your baby's healthcare provider for more information and treatment.

What should I do to treat my sore nipples?

Recommendations include:

  • Be sure the baby is correctly positioned and latched deeply. You may need a lactation consultant to observe the latch.

  • Keep your nipples hydrated by using your own breastmilk.

  • Wear a loose-fitting bra and clothes.

  • Change nursing pads often to keep them clean and dry.

  • Use only water to clean your breasts and nipples.

  • Change positions each time you nurse.

Certain creams or dressings may promote healing. Others can actually cause more damage. These should be used carefully under the supervision of a healthcare provider. Also, don't use any harsh soaps or chemicals that might dry your nipples. This may lead to cracking of the skin. It's also important to prevent too much moisture by not using plastic-backed nursing pads.

Finding the cause of sore nipples can be hard. Talk with your healthcare provider or a lactation consultant for an evaluation. They can give you suggestions on how to resolve the problem.

Online Medical Reviewer: Angela Morrison LPN IBCLC
Online Medical Reviewer: Donna Freeborn PhD CNM FNP
Online Medical Reviewer: Marianne Fraser MSN RN
Date Last Reviewed: 1/1/2024
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