Cracks in the nipples when feeding

, medical expert
Last reviewed: 25.06.2018

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Cracks in the nipples during feeding very often occur in the first days after the birth of the child. For a woman, this is not just an unpleasant symptom: sometimes some young mothers are forced even to refuse breastfeeding, as the pain becomes simply unbearable. However, not everything is so hopeless: cracked nipples can be prevented and cured. We will try to tell you how to do it correctly in this material.

ICD Code 10

  • O 00 - O 99 - Period of pregnancy, childbirth and after childbirth.
  • O 85 - O 92 - Complications related to childbearing.
  • O 92 - Other changes in the mammary gland, as well as lactation disorders related to childbirth.
  • O 92.1 - Nipple cracks related to childbirth.

Causes of nipple cracking during feeding

What are the causes of cracks in the nipple?

  • Incorrect grip of the baby's nipple during sucking milk. Correct application implies full gripping of the baby's nipple together with the areola. If the breasts are not correctly positioned with respect to the baby, the nipple circles are irritated, which inevitably leads to the appearance of cracks.
  • Forced completion of the act of feeding. At the end of feeding it is necessary to wait for the baby to release the nipple himself. Otherwise, the child will try to hold it, thereby squeezing and damaging the skin of the areola.
  • Lack of care for the breasts, or illiterate care: drying out the nipples, excessive rubbing with a towel, frequent washing of the breasts using soap, etc.
  • Individual hypersensitivity of the skin.
  • The lack of vitamins in the nursing mother, which is manifested in excessive dry skin.
  • Illiterate application of the breast pump, or expressing by hand.
  • Allergic reactions of skin on the nipples on soap, shower gel, creams, etc.
  • Continuous use of panty liners, the flow of breast milk.
  • Presence of teeth in a child.
  • Treatment of nipples with alcohol and alcohol-containing products.

The reasons for the appearance of cracks can really be many, and the pathogenesis of the disease is not always the same. In some cases, a woman can adhere to all the rules of feeding and caring for the breasts, but cracks still arise. The fact that the provoking factors of nipple damage during feeding can become individual features of their structure. The shape of the nipples is not always the norm - they are retracted, flat (the so-called "blind nipple"). The main thing is to pay attention to the problem in time and start treatment.

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Symptoms of nipple cracks

The appearance of the nipples in the occurrence of cracks is always characteristic. The first signs are manifested in the form of small "cuts" on the skin of the nipple, from its central part to the outer edges of the areola.

Cracks appear either in large numbers, or from one to three in the field of view; on one of the mammary glands, or on two at the same time (often this depends on which breast of the child is applied more often). Soreness when applied depends on the depth of the cracks - surface damage causes significantly less pain. From the wound can drip a clear liquid, sometimes even with an admixture of blood.

Any manipulation of the nipple provokes a sharp pain, in particular - the act of feeding the baby. Often the pain becomes so unbearable that a woman has to stop breastfeeding and transfer the baby to the mixture.

If this condition is not treated, complications can occur: it is possible to attach the infection - microbial, fungal or viral. The consequences of such complications are mastitis, inflammation in the nipples (often purulent), the formation of erosions, ulcers, etc. In severe cases, surgical treatment may be necessary.

Diagnosis of nipple cracks in feeding

Diagnosis of cracks is quite simple. In most cases, the diagnosis is based on the following data:

  • general examination of the breast - both a healthy breast and glands with a damaged nipple skin;
  • a survey of how the process of feeding and nursing takes place, what kind of underwear is used, etc .;
  • clarification of additional signs and symptoms.

At occurrence of cracks on nipples, and also at other problems connected with mammary glands, it is necessary to address for consultation to such doctors, as the gynecologist or mammologist. If necessary, specialists will assign the necessary tests:

  • a general blood test, a leukocyte formula (an analysis for the presence of an inflammatory process);
  • study of discharge from the nipple.

Instrumental diagnosis for nipple cracks is rare, but only for the prevention or suspected of other concomitant diseases of the mammary glands. In such situations, appoint:

  • ultrasound examination of the breast;
  • mammograms;
  • RTM-study (microwave radio thermometry);
  • electrical impedance tomography.

In complex cases, a comprehensive examination of patients is used, with cytological and histological verification of the diagnosis. Differential diagnosis can be carried out with inflammation of the nipple of the breast, as well as with a cancerous tumor. At the slightest suspicion of the development of a malignant process, the patient is assigned all possible types of research in order to avoid mistakes in treatment.


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Treatment of cracks in the nipples during feeding

Cracks in the nipples - not an occasion to complete breastfeeding and to teach the child to the milk formula. This will necessarily lead to the cessation of milk production and the complete abandonment of the baby from the breast.

If the nipple cracks deliver only minor discomfort, then you can continue to breastfeed your baby, while using preventive silicone or latex pads. Such devices can be purchased in pharmacies - they are produced by almost all well-known companies specializing in the production of breast pumps and other accessories for young mothers. These are brands such as Avent, Medela, Chikko, Conpol, etc. The lining is selected individually, taking into account the breast size and the size of the nipple.

In the presence of a large number of deep bleeding cracks, the patches are unlikely to help. In this case, milk must be hand-tied and fed to the baby, while healing the damaged skin on the nipples.

If the measures were not taken on time, and mastitis arose, then it should be borne in mind that bacteria can pass to the child. In this case, breastfeeding is stopped.

What can not be done categorically:

  • wash the nipples with soap and other alkaline solutions;
  • To put on nipples preparations with antibiotics, and also to take antibiotics inside;
  • to treat the breast with alcohol solutions, including iodine or diamond green;
  • use breast pads for a long time, wear tight bras.

Cracks are best healed if the chest is open and there is air access to the damaged nipples. Therefore, it is necessary at the time to abandon the closed linen, and the pads for the breast should be used as rarely as possible, or not used at all.

The most popular ointments and creams from cracks in the nipples when feeding:

Means containing dexpanthenol - a curative component that represents vitamins of group B:

  • Bepanten (cream, ointment) 5% applied once or several times a day;
  • Dexpanthenol - use under a bandage or a compress;
  • Panthenol - applied several times a day, after feeding;
  • Korneregel - used after feeding, and before putting the baby washed.

Preparations containing zinc oxide - an antiseptic substance with an inherent and tannic action:

  • Zinc ointment - applied three times a day, before feeding is removed;
  • Zinc paste - is used by analogy with zinc ointment;
  • Tsindol - use 4-6 times a day on dry skin. Requires flushing;
  • Desitin - lubricate the nipples three times a day, washing off before feeding;
  • Sudokrem - used several times a day, removing before applying the baby.

External products with the content of lanolin - animal lipid, providing skin protection:

  • Purelan - grease nipples as needed;
  • Sanosan - can be used after each feeding;
  • Lanolin - apply several times a day;
  • Multimam - lubricate the nipples until complete recovery;
  • Karelan - use from 3 times a day;
  • Lanovit with sea buckthorn oil is a safe preparation, it can be used without restrictions.

Medications containing retinol (Vitamin A), which effectively restores damaged skin:

  • Videstim - applied twice a day;
  • Retinoic ointment - used throughout the day;
  • Radevit - applied twice a day, you can under the bandage;
  • Retinol acetate - lubricate the skin as needed.

Herbal and mineral ointments:

  • Vulnuzan - lubricate the nipples with a thick layer several times a day;
  • "9 months" (Mustela) - use from 2 times a day until complete cure.

Anti-inflammatory drugs:

  • Solcoseryl - smeared affected juices three times a day;
  • Actovegin - applied under the compress three times a day.

Other means of cracks on the nipples during feeding:

  • Sea buckthorn oil is a natural remedy, harmless and effective. Softens the skin and promotes rapid healing. Does not require flushing. •
  • Hips oil - removes signs of inflammation (thanks to the content of vitamin C). It is applied immediately after feeding. It is not necessary to wash off. •
  • Oily solution of vitamin E - restores and heals the area of the nipple. •
  • Chlorophyllipt (oil-based) - a wonderful antiseptic, eliminates the symptoms of the inflammatory process. It is necessary to wash off before feeding. •
  • Calendula ointment - tightens cracks, destroys bacteria. Before feeding it is necessary to wash off.

Alternative treatment of nipple cracks

Often a good effect is provided by herbal and other alternative treatments. Such recipes are passed on from generation to generation, from one mother to another. When there is no possibility to go to the pharmacy, the following resources can come to the rescue:

  • Cast off nipples with castor oil. After each application, hold the breast open for at least 10 minutes.
  • Apply to the nipple region melted butter, for 2-3 days.
  • Lubricate the perennial zone with greenery, then apply a layer of Vaseline, several times within 3 days.
  • Apply a compress of grated apple on a fine grater, 2-3 times a day. You can make a mixture of grated apple and butter, or carrot juice.
  • Apply on the chest gruel from welded seeds of flax.
  • Lubricate the nipples with fresh aloe juice or colancho. Before feeding, the juice should be thoroughly rinsed.
  • Apply to the nipple area fresh natural honey, which should be washed off after half an hour with warm water.
  • Apply to the damaged skin a cabbage leaf, slightly beaten with a hammer (to let the juice). This tool is recommended for use at night.

Homeopathy with nipple cracks

Many patients trust such a popular treatment method today as homeopathy. To treat cracks in the nipples, there are also certain homeopathic preparations, both for oral administration and for external use.

Homeopathic remedies for internal use:

  • Graphite 3C and Arnica 3C - 5 granules sublingually, 20 minutes before feeding;
  • Acidum Nitrikum 6C - with severe pain;
  • Ratification 3C - with itching cracks;
  • Croton tiglyum 3C - with severe shingles;
  • Sulfur - with deep skin lesions, with the release of blood;
  • Petroleum - at cracks with crusts and bloom.

Local homeopathic remedies:

  • Arnika - 5 drops are diluted in 200 ml of drinking water and moisten the nipples after each feeding;
  • Camomile (Hamomilla) - is used by analogy with Arnica.

In neglected cases, washing nipples with tincture Borax can help: 5 drops per 200 ml of water are used.

Preventing the appearance of cracks in the nipples when feeding

Prevention of cracks in the first place should include the correct application of the baby during feeding, in conjunction with compliance with the rules of hygiene and care for the breasts.

Even during the gestation of the child, it is necessary to prepare the breast for feeding:

  • regularly apply a contrast shower, wash your chest alternately with hot and cool water;
  • gently massage the parotid region;
  • apply a nourishing and moisturizing cream to the mammary glands;
  • less common use of soap for washing your breasts (no more than once a week);
  • refuse to wear tight and dense underwear, as well as bras from synthetic fabrics.

At the very beginning of the lactation period it is recommended to adhere to the following rules:

  • Do not wash your breasts often with soap and leave your nipples wet;
  • it is undesirable to use alcohol lotions and solutions for treating the breast, since alcohol dries the skin and flushes the natural protective barrier on the nipples;
  • you can not take the baby from the breast forcibly: you must wait until he releases the nipple;
  • it is important to ventilate the breasts as often as possible.

The question arises: how to properly apply the baby for feeding, so that cracks do not form on the nipples?

  1. Before feeding the baby, it needs to be half turned to the mother. It is wrong if only the baby's head is turned to the chest. The best position for feeding is the mother lying on her side, and the baby's tummy is adjacent to the mother's belly.
  2. It is desirable that the baby's head was located on the inside of the elbow of the mother: so it is easier for him to move while sucking.
  3. You should not force the nipple into the baby's mouth: he will grab his chest.
  4. Correctly, if the child captures not only the nipple, but also the areola (the nasal region). In this case, the baby with a spout should press against the mammary gland.

If everything is done correctly, the risk of cracking will be minimized.


If the cracks on the nipples are correctly and correctly treated, then the prognosis is considered favorable. Otherwise, complications in the form of mastitis and inflammation of the nipple, often with the addition of a purulent process.

Cracks in the nipples during feeding should not cause the end of the lactation period. Immediately after the condition improves, breastfeeding should be resumed.

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