Sore nipples are one of the common issues among new mothers. It is very painful and more often this sharp pain comes in the way of successful breastfeeding. Mothers are on the hunt for something that can provide relief from sore nipples. We hear you! Here, you can find 15 Indian home remedies for sore nipples during breastfeeding.
Sore and cracked nipples during breastfeeding usually happen due to the wrong position of the baby while breastfeeding. Shallow latch, nipple confusion, using a wrongly sized nipple shield, wrong use of breast pump (like suction level too high) and other issues can also end up in sore and cracked nipples.
Topical medicines and creams are available to heal cracked nipples fast. Yet the majority of these OTC ointments contain chemicals. So most of the mothers choose to avoid ointments for cracked nipples as they are not sure which is safe and which is not.
So, here is a list of 100 percent safe natural home treatments for painful nipples to assist new Moms to get through this challenging time.
Sore And Cracked Nipples- 15 Indian Home Remedies
When it comes to home remedies for sore nipples during breastfeeding, a majority of them comprises herbal pastes or oils or some other topical administration. Before going for these remedies first you have to note one important point. You must avoid the baby swallowing any of these applications.
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To ensure that, clean your nipples thoroughly with a soft towel and warm water to get rid of any remnants of oil or any herbal paste you may have used to relieve pain in the nipples before feeding the baby.
The following 15 sore nipples breastfeeding treatments will help you to overcome the situation
1. Breast milk – the ultimate solution to sore and cracked nipples
According to studies, mothers’ breast milk has amazing healing power when it comes to cracked nipples. Thanks to its strong antibacterial property.
It is found that breast milk (rubbing hindmilk after each breastfeeding session) heals faster than when compared to lanolin ointment. Easy availability without payment makes this top one of the natural remedies for cracked nipples.
How to use: After every breastfeeding session, apply a few drops of milk liberally over the nipple and allow it to air dry.
Note: Don’t try this remedy in case of thrush infection as the yeast tends to thrive in human milk.
2. Massage with homemade butter or ghee
Massaging with homemade ghee or butter is an Indian home remedy for sore and cracked nipples that has been used for a long time. It is an ideal and effective treatment because not only does it provide relief, it is also safe for the baby if they accidentally ingest it.
3. Olive oil- tea tree oil massage
Applying olive oil alone or a mix of olive oil – tea tree is very helpful in reinstating moisture and healing dry and cracked nipples during breastfeeding. Tea tree oil is famous for its anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties which is beneficial in treating cracked nipples
Likewise, clinical trials have proved the efficiency of olive oil in curing sore nipples in breastfeeding mothers. Thanks to its analgesic and anti-inflammatory property.
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How to use: Mix few drops of olive oil and tea tree oil and apply liberally over the nipple. Let it remain there for some time.
Note: Thoroughly wash and dry the nipple before the next feeding. If accidentally ingested, it can cause digestive issues in the baby.
4. Tulsi leaves for sore and cracked nipples
Tulsi or basil leaves are well known for their medicinal properties. They are one of the most effective home remedies for sore nipples as well. Tulsi helps to speed up the healing because of its strong antimicrobial property. They are excellent to relieve pain, dryness, and even bleeding.
How to use: Take some fresh Tulsi/basil leaves. Wash them thoroughly in water and crush it into a smooth paste. Cover the sore and cracked nipple with this paste. Allow it to dry in the air. Repeat this remedy four or five times a day for about a week to get relief from sore and cracked nipples.
5. Apple cider vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is another effective home remedy in treating sore nipples. The anti-bacterial property of ACV helps to reduce itchiness and soreness in case of cracked nipples.
How to use: To one cup of water add one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and mix well. Rinse the nipple well with this water after each feeding. You can also dip a cotton ball in this mixture and apply it all over the areola and nipples. Let it remain for some time and then pat dry.
6. Soak or wash nipples in saltwater
Soaking or rinsing the nipples with salt water helps to relieve pain and accelerate the healing process of the cracked nipple during breastfeeding. Do it every day at least two to three times for one week. You will find considerable relief from your cracked nipples.
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7. Malai – an excellent home remedy for sore and cracked nipples
This is another common Indian home remedy for sore and dry nipples during breastfeeding. Malai, or cream of regular milk can do wonders just like breast milk.
How to use: Apply malai liberally over the areola and nipples. Leave it to dry. Remember to wash it off in lukewarm water before the next feeding.
8. Expose the nipples to the air
Try to remove the bra and expose the nipples to the air whenever and for as long as possible. This will accelerate the healing process. Moreover, this also avoids the chances of clothes rubbing against the sore nipple causing more pain and irritation.
9. Warm compress
Applying a warm compress on the affected area is another effective and inexpensive treatment option for soothing sore and cracked nipples during breastfeeding.
How to do: Every time after feeding the baby, place a warm washcloth (one which is dipped and squeezed in warm water) over the breast and nipples for a few minutes and gently pat dry. You can use this remedy for as many times as you feed the baby.
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10. Cold compress
Applying cold compresses helps to soothe cracked and sore nipples during breastfeeding by decreasing swelling and by temporarily numbing the area.
How to use: Fill a cotton towel with ice cubes and gently press it on the nipple at regular intervals until the discomfort subsides. It can be used 10 minutes beforehand or immediately after feeding. However, never place an ice pack directly on the sore nipples
11. Change nursing pads frequently
Always choose nursing pads made from 100 percent cotton. For fast relief from sore and cracked nipples during breastfeeding, you should-
- Replace nursing pads as soon as they get wet. This is because wet nursing pads increase the risk of fungal infection and the wetness prolongs the healing process
- Never use nursing pads with plastic lining if you are experiencing sore nipple issues. This is because the plastic linings block the airflow which also delays the healing process
12. Apply fresh Aloe vera gel
The healing and pain-relieving properties of Aloe vera are well known. Aloe vera promotes the regeneration of skin tissues. Fresh aloe vera gel is excellent to treat sore nipples during breastfeeding as well.
How to use: Extract the gel from an aloe vera leaf and apply it to the afflicted area. Let it dry naturally. Rinse it thoroughly before the next feeding. Perform this remedy several times a day. Repeat for three to four days for better results.
13. Virgin coconut oil for cracked nipples
Massaging the sore nipple with virgin coconut oil helps with fast healing. Thanks to the antibacterial and anti-fungal properties of virgin coconut oil.
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14. Calendula flowers or oil
Studies have proved the ability of topical application of calendula products in treating sore and cracked nipples during breastfeeding. It helps to relieve the swelling and pain of sore nipples to a significant extent. It also reduces the risk of infection in nipples due to its strong antibacterial property.
- Mash 1-2 calendula flowers and make a smooth paste. Apply it thickly and evenly all over the nipples and let it dry in the air. Wash it off when it is well dried
- Mix olive and calendula oil in a 1:1 ratio. Apply this on the nipples during the interval between two feedings. Clear it off before the next feeding
- Apply organic calendula flower oil extract on the sore nipples. This helps with regeneration of skin cell and speed up the healing process
15. Hot oil massage is great for sore and cracked nipples
Hot oil massage of the sore nipples with warm almond oil, coconut oil, or olive oil, helps to moisturize the dry and cracked nipple significantly. Therefore it helps to reduce two issues that delay the healing process of cracked nipples – chapping and tearing of the nipple due to extreme dryness. Adding a few drops of mint essential oil will enhance the result.
Things you should not do if you have sore and cracked nipples
- Never place a wet tea bag on your nipple. Even though it temporarily soothes the nipples, on the flip side it also can aggravate the issue. The astringent property of tea can make the nipple drier
- Never apply medicated nipple creams without asking the doctor. Many antibiotic and numbing creams can harm the baby if ingested during breastfeeding. Also, creams that are not 100% lanolin can obstruct the nipples from getting exposed to air. This can delay the healing process
- Avoid using soaps or any products with alcohol on nipples because these products can dry the skin thereby worsening the cracked nipples
- Refrain from wearing tight bras as this can increase friction and pain on the nipples
- Never wash bras in soap powder with harsh chemicals. Also, rinse them thoroughly in plenty of water and dry in the sun before wearing them
Sore and cracked nipples is a common issue most breastfeeding mothers struggle with. Nipple soreness usually affects first-time moms. Feeding issues and nipple soreness is usually less likely to happen with a second baby because mothers are better equipped to breastfeed the second time around. Mothers who experience sore and cracked nipple pain with their first child do not have to face it again.
The above-listed Indian home remedies will help to get rid of the nipple soreness. However, if the pain persists and the nipples are itchy and oozing discharge, that could be the sign of breast infection. In that case, seek medical attention. Remember, home remedies are not a substitute for medical advice.
Mothers usually don’t have to cease nursing due to cracked nipples. However, keep in mind that this symptom signals that they are breastfeeding the baby wrongly or the baby is latching wrongly. Take measures to rectify it to reduce the pain and to accomplish successful breastfeeding.
The time it takes to heal the nipple sore depends on several factors. The severity of the soreness is the primary factor that decides the duration of healing. It varies with mothers as well. While fresh and shallow sores get cleared within a day or two, long-established and severe wounds take around 2 to 3 weeks to heal completely.
Deep wounds heal from the base upwards. The shallower the wound becomes the more the wound is healing. Even if the deep wound heals, the newly formed layers of skin will not be as strong as normal skin. It more likely re-opens if the nipple accidentally slips from the baby’s mouth when feeding. That is why it takes more time to heal completely.
Experiment with different feeding positions. This helps to relieve the pressure on the nipples. Changing position might also help you figure out which one works best for you.
Seek the assistance of a lactation consultant.
Start nursing on the less painful side. Once let-down happens, you can switch the baby to the other breast. This will alleviate the pain since the infant will be able to receive milk without sucking too hard.
Several home remedies heal sore nipples fast. Dabbing breast milk in the nipples and leaving nipples to air dry is the safest and most effective way to heal sore nipples. Lanolin for sore nipples also helps to heal sore nipples during breastfeeding. As it is hypoallergenic, it is considered one of the safe ways to treat sore nipples.
Along with the sore nipples breastfeeding treatments, taking measures to stop irritating the nipples like wearing breast shells (to keep the cloth from touching and irritating the nipple), wearing a soft bra that is not too tight, etc. will help to heal the sore nipple fast.