Caring for sore nipples when breastfeeding

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Sore nipples are common in mothers that are new to breastfeeding. In the first week, it is normal to have tenderness or pain in the breast that can last for just a few seconds.

Breastfeeding is the natural way of providing nutrition for the baby. If tenderness of the area continues, it can result to sore and bleeding nipples. Sore nipples while breastfeeding can be due to latching problems of the baby.

Causes of sore nipples

  • Improper way of latching and positioning of the baby during nursing.
  • Wearing a wrong-sized bra
    Sore nipples
    If tenderness of the area continues, it can result to sore and bleeding nipples.
  • Performing exercises without wearing the proper sports bra
  • Excessive dry skin that result to cracks on the nipples
  • Chest injuries
  • Hormonal changes due to pregnancy or premenstrual syndrome
  • Conditions such as mastitis, infections of the skin, thrush and breast cancer
  • Yeast infection of the baby such as thrush that is passed to the mother during feeding and results to cracked, redness and itchiness of the breast.


  • Tenderness of the area
  • Pain
  • Itchiness
  • Swelling
  • Sometimes, there is white and watery discharge


  • Properly wash the nipple after feeding the baby using water and a mild soap to wash off the saliva of the baby and dried milk to prevent the risk of infection that can result to sore nipples. Use unscented and gentle soaps in washing the nipples to lessen irritation and make sure to rinse off the soap properly. Pat dry using a soft cloth and let the nipple air dry to lessen soreness and irritation due to the bra or shirt
  • Keep the nipple in a doughnut-shaped shells to prevent further irritation from direct contact with a constricting bra.
  • Apply a warm compress on the sore nipples to lessen the discomfort and for fast healing of the condition. Soak a clean washcloth in warm water. Wring out the excess water and placed on the affected breast for at least a couple of minutes. Perform this procedure 10 minutes before breastfeeding. Repeat this process several times every day until the soreness is totally gone. Another alternative is to take a warm shower or apply a heating pad on the sore nipples to lessen the discomfort.
  • Massage the sore nipples using ice cubes. The cold will numb the area and lessen the swelling. Wrap ice cubes using a thin towel and place on the sore nipples for a few minutes. Repeat this process every day between feedings until the soreness is gone. Avoid placing ice directly on the skin to prevent further damage.
  • Apply the prescribed over-the-counter ointments to lessen the symptoms of sore nipples. Use olive oil or medical-grade lanolin ointment to prevent the formation of scabs and for fast healing of the condition.

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