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 week or 2 of breastfeeding. Then it should go away.

What are some possible causes of sore nipples?

If latching is painful or your nipples or areola 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. Certain medicines are needed to treat yeast and other infections or allergic reactions. Contact your baby's healthcare provider for more information and treatment.

What should I do to treat my sore nipples?

Recommendations include:

  • Keep your nipples hydrated by using coconut oil, petroleum jelly, or lanolin, or your own breastmilk

  • Wear a loose-fitting bra and clothes

  • Change nursing pads often to keep them clean and dry

  • Use only a mild soap and 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 result in drying the nipples. This may lead to cracking of the skin.

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

Online Medical Reviewer: Donna Freeborn PhD CNM FNPHeather TrevinoMary Terrell MD

Date Last Reviewed: 7/1/2016

© 2000-2019 The StayWell Company, LLC. 800 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.

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