Are sore and cracked nipples keeping you from enjoying the wonders of breastfeeding? Are you wondering if there are remedies for cracked nipples that can help you with your struggle?
If your nipples are reddish, itchy, or painful, you could be suffering from nipple thrush. It’s caused by candida albicans, a fungus which thrives in moist and warm parts of the body, like the mouth, vagina, diaper area, bra pads, and nipples.
Nipple thrush is one of the common roadblocks breastfeeding moms face, which could often tempt them to give up on breastfeeding altogether.
But don’t worry, here’s a quick guide on nipple thrush, what causes it, and how you can treat it. We also compiled list of home remedies for cracked nipples.
Remedies for cracked nipples
Breast pain, often known as nipple pain, is not normal in nursing. Although your nipples may be sensitive in the days following birth and while breastfeeding, sore nipples or breasts suggest a problem. If you are experiencing sore nipples from breastfeeding, you should seek medical attention right once.
But if you are experiencing cracked nipples in breastfeeding, you may have nipple thrush. When your nipples become cracked or injured due to breastfeeding, thrush infections can occur. This means the thrush-causing candida fungus can enter your nipple or breast.
Breast and nipple thrush (a fungal infection) can develop at any time after birth, but it is most common in the first few weeks. The following are some of the signs and symptoms:
- For the duration of the breastfeeding, severe, burning nipple pain – correct attachment has no effect on the pain. The burning nipple lasts all day, not just during feedings. Breast pain varies depending on the nipple and/or breast. Sharp, shooting, scorching, stabbing, or radiating pain may be experienced across the breast.
- The nipples may be a brighter pink and shinier than usual. However, they may appear to be normal.
- Areola or nipple skin that is itchy, dry, or cracked
- During or between feedings, a stabbing feeling deep within your breasts
What causes cracked nipples breastfeeding?
remedies for cracked nipples
A poor latch at the breast and suction trauma as a result of inappropriate positioning are two common causes of cracked nipples due to breastfeeding.
Incorrect placement can be caused by a variety of factors. Breastfeeding is an acquired skill for both mothers and infants. It takes practice to properly put the nipple in a baby’s mouth and its body against the mother.
Pinching off the nipple is a way for babies who aren’t well latched to protect themselves from powerful letdown reactions. If a baby’s latch is shallow, he or she may nurse more frequently. This is due to the fact that they are not receiving as much milk with each breastfeeding session.
In some situations, according to La Leche League International, a baby will pinch its mother’s nipple due to anatomical abnormalities, such as:
- High palate
- Little mouth
- Short frenulum
- Chin that is receding
Other factors to consider are:
- nipple confusion (possible if you’re breastfeeding, bottle-feeding, or giving pacifiers to your child)
- troubles with sucking
- During nursing, the baby’s tongue retracts or is poorly positioned.
It’s critical to figure out what’s causing your cracked, aching nipples so you don’t have to deal with it again. Speak with a certified lactation consultant.
They’ll be able to assess your latch and breastfeeding practices. They can also examine the sucking patterns and strength of your newborn.
Home remedies for sore cracked nipples from breastfeeding
Remedies for cracked nipples
There is a variety of remedies for sore nipples due to breastfeeding. Another way to confirm if you have nipple thrush is if the deep, shooting pain isn’t lessened by better latching or positioning when nursing.
Here are some home remedy for sore nipples while breastfeeding:
1. Using your own breastmilk as a balm
One of the remedies for cracked nipples is breast milk. Possessing antibacterial properties is one of the many great things about breast milk. That’s why it can help soothe and treat dry and cracked nipples. Just pat a few drops onto the affected nipple before and after nursing and allow them to air dry.
2. Apply a warm compress
Another remedy for sore nipples due to breastfeeding is a warm compress. Pressing a warm towel onto your breast before breastfeeding can not only soothe nipple pain, but it could also boost breastmilk production and cleanse the area. You can also take a warm shower if you prefer!
Olive oil, coconut oil, or sweet almond oil can do wonders in reducing dryness by deeply moisturizing cracked nipples. Another tip would be to use tea tree oil! Its antiseptic properties could help hasten to heal and prevent problems with sore nipples from recurring.
4. Use the power of herbs
Harness the power of herbs like natural aloe vera and ground-up basil leaves paste, which possess natural healing properties. Be careful to wash off aloe vera thoroughly before breastfeeding, though, as it’s been known to cause diarrhea in infants.
5. Chamomile tea
Another home remedy for sore nipples while breastfeeding is the use of chamomile tea! This type of tea’s anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties don’t just work when ingested, applying the tea bags directly onto affected areas could also do the trick!
After squeezing out excess water and letting them cool, leave the tea bags on the nipples for a few minutes. Remember to wash thoroughly with warm water before breastfeeding!
Other ways to relieve nipple problems are constant air exposure, feeding frequently, changing positions when feeding, avoiding bras that are too tight, changing breast pads often, and avoiding using soap, alcohol, or petroleum-based products when washing your nipples.
Medical treatment for sore cracked nipples from breastfeeding
A topical antifungal ointment for your nipples and an oral rinse for your infant are the standard treatments for thrush in breastfeeding parents and babies.
Follow your doctor’s instructions for therapy. All over-the-counter (OTC) treatments for you and your baby should be cleared with your child’s pediatrician when you’re nursing.
Antifungals that are commonly used to treat nipple and oral thrush include:
However, it is best to consult your doctor first before trying any medication. Even for home remedies, you may ask your doctor to confirm if this can be beneficial for you or if it might worsen the situation.
Photo by PV Productions from Freepik
How to avoid having sore cracked nipples
Having a sore and cracked nipple is one of the common struggles of breastfeeding moms. There are various ways how to avoid and manage sore and cracked nipples:
Have a good latch
A Baby’s poor latch is one of the common causes of a mom’s sore and cracked nipples. Having a good latch can help you avoid having sore nipples.
Mommies, getting the right latch can be practiced. It is important to practice proper latching to allow your baby to get the most milk from your breast without causing pain to your nipples.
Here are some tips you can try for your baby to have a good latch:
- Hold your baby’s chin down as they approached your breast
- Using your nipple to tickle your baby’s upper lip until it opens wide as if they are yawning.
- When they open their mouth widely, gently guide them to your breast.
- If they fail to latch properly at first, try pulling them off and start over again.
- You can ask the nurses, midwife, or doula for guidance in proper latching.
- Contact a lactation consultant if you continue to have pain while nursing.
On the other hand, proper unlatching is important too. To prevent experiencing sore cracked nipples, break the suction first before pulling your baby off.
How to help your baby unlatch? First, gently stick your finger between your breast and your baby’s gum. After breaking the suction, guide your baby’s head away from your breast.
Prevent thrush nipples
It’s normal for your nipples to get wet often due to breastfeeding. But nipples that are always wet can lead to thrush. Thrush is a yeast infection that can be passed between mother and baby while nursing.
How to avoid thrush? The most important way to prevent having thrush nipples is to wipe dry your nipples every after nursing. Here are some ways to dry your nipples:
- Blow or gently pat your nipple using a baby towel
- Walk around your house topless to air dry your nipples
Aside from that, use mild soap when bathing and washing your nipples. Make sure to rinse it thoroughly and gently pat dry after taking a bath.
Furthermore, if you are using a breast pad to avoid leak milk, change them often because yeast may grow abundantly on the trapped moisture if you do not change your breast pads often.
Photo by Pikisuperstar from Freepik
The breastfeeding position can also affect the comfort of nursing. The way you sit and hold your baby while breastfeeding can also lead to having sore and cracked nipples. There are plenty of books and online articles that you can read about breastfeeding positions. In addition, you can always ask your lactation consultant for any recommendations on how to hold your baby properly while nursing.
But if you do not have a lactation consultant, you can opt to try these tips to have a good hold of your baby:
- Your baby’s hips and face should be turned towards you while you breastfeed them
- Change positions in between nursing to avoid getting sore. There are multiple breastfeeding positions you can try.
- A nursing pillow and footstool can help you have a good hold
- Remember, instead of crouching over your baby, try to hold them up close to your breast.
Have you ever experienced nipple thrush, moms? What method of treatment worked for you? Let us know in the comments below!
Updates by Margaux Dolores and Jobelle Macayan
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