Sore nipples are a common complaint among women. In fact, nearly two-thirds of women suffer from it during their lifetime. It is most common in mothers who are breastfeeding their infants—80 percent experience nipple pain and soreness. Typically, it is due to the baby being unable to latch on properly during breastfeeding.
Other causes of sore nipples include wearing the wrong size bra, exercising without a proper sports bra, an injury on the chest area and excessive dry skin that causes cracks on the nipples.
It can also occur due to hormonal changes associated with pregnancy or premenstrual syndrome. Certain health problems like thrush, skin infection, mastitis and breast cancer can also lead to soreness.
Some of the symptoms of sore nipples include pain, tenderness, itchiness and swelling. At times, there can be discharge, such as pus or a white, watery fluid.
Nipples are one of the most sensitive parts of your body and when they become sore, it can cause great discomfort.
Most of the discomfort associated with sore nipples can be alleviated with over-the-counter medicines, creams or ointments. You can also try some simple, natural home remedies to get relief.
Here are the top 10 home remedies for sore nipples.
1. Breast Milk
If the cause is breastfeeding, you can use your own breast milk to heal sore, cracked, bleeding or blistered nipples. Breast milk has antibacterial as well as healing properties that help treat sore nipples.
- Apply a few drops of breast milk on the affected nipple before breastfeeding.
- After breastfeeding apply some milk again.
- Allow it to air dry thoroughly.
- Repeat the same for the other nipple.
- Follow this remedy a few times daily until the soreness subsides.
2. Warm Compress
To soothe sore nipples, you can apply a warm compress on the affected area. The heat from the compress can ease discomfort and aid healing.
- Dip a washcloth in warm water.
- Wring it out and then place it on your breasts for a couple of minutes.
- Do this at least 10 minutes before breastfeeding.
- Repeat this remedy several times a day until the soreness is gone.
A warm shower or heating pad can also help alleviate the discomforts of sore nipples.
3. Oil Massage
You can also treat sore nipples by massaging with oils like olive, coconut or sweet almond oil. The moisturizing property of these oils will help keep the affected area moisturized and reduce dryness. Plus, it will reduce the problems of cracks, tears or chapping, which can worsen the condition and delay healing.
- Heat a small amount of the oil of your choice in a microwave until warm.
- Apply the warm oil on the nipples and massage gently.
- Repeat several times a day.
Note: Before breastfeeding, make sure to wash your nipples thoroughly with warm water to remove any remaining oil.
4. Aloe Vera
Aloe vera is another very effective way to treat sore nipples fast. It has natural healing powers and pain-relieving properties.
- Cut open an aloe vera leaf and extract the gel.
- Apply this fresh gel on the affected areas and allow it to dry on its own.
- Clean the area with lukewarm water and pat dry with a soft towel.
- Repeat several times a day for about three to four days.
Note: Never feed your baby until you have washed off the aloe vera with warm water. Aloe vera can cause diarrhea in small babies.
5. Basil Leaves
Basil leaves have healing properties that help cure many types of skin problems, including sore nipples. This herb speeds up the healing process of sore nipples as well as gives you relief from dryness, cracks, pain and even bleeding.
- Wash a handful of basil leaves and then grind them into a paste.
- Apply this paste on the nipples and allow it to air dry.
- Wash off the paste before feeding your baby.
- Follow this simple remedy three to five times daily for about a week.
To get temporary relief from pain caused by breastfeeding and sore nipples, you can massage the affected area with an ice cube. The cold temperature will numb the tender area as well as reduce swelling.
- Wrap a few ice cubes in a thin towel.
- Place the towel on the affected area for a couple of minutes.
- Repeat a few times daily between feedings until you feel better.
You can even use bags of frozen peas or carrots as an ice pack.
Calendula can also be used get relief from swelling and pain, the two most common symptoms of sore nipples. Also, the antibacterial properties of calendula can reduce the risk of infection.
- Crush one to two calendula flowers into a paste. Apply this paste on the affected area and allow it to dry.
- Another option is to mix equal amounts of calendula oil and olive oil, and then apply it on the sore nipples.
- You can even apply a calendula ointment onto the affected nipples.
Follow any of these remedies two or three times daily until the soreness is cured completely.
Note: Clean the area with lukewarm water before feeding your baby.
8. Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil has antigungal as well as antiseptic properties that can help treat sore nipples and shorten the healing time. Plus, it will minimize the risk of further occurrences of sore nipples.
- Add one or two drops of tea tree oil to a glass of lukewarm water. Dip a soft cotton cloth in the liquid and dab it onto the affected area. Allow it to air dry and then rinse it off with lukewarm water. Repeat a few times a day.
- Another option is to mix a drop of pure tea tree oil with one tablespoon of coconut oil or olive oil. Apply it to the nipple and allow it to dry. Gently rinse the area with warm water and pat dry before feeding.
Follow either of these remedies two or three times daily until the sores nipple are healed.
Chamomile can help bring great relief from the discomforts associated with sore nipples. The anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties help treat the problem.
- Steep one or two chamomile tea bags in hot water for 10 minutes.
- Remove the tea bags and squeeze out the excess water.
- Apply the moist tea bags to the nipples or other sore areas of the breast for several minutes.
- Before breastfeeding, wash the area with lukewarm water.
You can also drink chamomile tea twice daily to promote healing.
10. Vitamin C
For healthy breasts, a healthy diet is a must. Especially, you must eat more vitamin C-rich foods. Vitamin C helps heal damaged skin tissues. Plus, it can help prevent infection effectively.
- To increase your vitamin C intake, eat foods like oranges, limes, lemons, kiwis, guavas, papaya, strawberries, kale, mustard greens, broccoli and parsley.
- You can also take vitamin C supplements after consulting a doctor.
- Avoid washing your nipples with soap, alcohol or petroleum-based products.
- Nipples should be exposed to air as much as possible.
- Relax before and during feeding and never pull away when your baby is feeding.
- Feed frequently to avoid your hungry baby biting down hard on the nipple.
- Try to feed your baby on both breasts at each feeding. It will aid the healing process.
- Change positions often during breastfeeding to avoid constant pressure on one area.
- Make sure your baby is positioned and latched properly. Also, the baby must suck properly.
- During feeding, make sure your baby’s jaws exert pressure on the least tender spots.
- After breastfeeding, leave your bra off for a while.
- Make sure not to wear a bra that is too tight.
- Use plastic dome-shaped breast shells to protect your nipples from rubbing or friction.
- If using breast pads, try to keep them dry and change them often.
- When exercising, wear a properly fitting sports bra.
Be sure to consult your doctor right away if you notice any kind of discharge or discomfort that lasts for more than a week.