It’s no surprise that there are dozens of “cures” out there for sore nipples. In my lactation practice, nipple pain is the most common reason that mothers seek help. The only real way to “cure” sore nipples, however, is to fix the underlying cause. It’s usually a faulty latch that causes the problem in the first place. Once the latch is corrected, nipples feel better. Usually the results are immediate.
Please avoid these commonly recommended but ineffective strategies for healing sore nipples:
Tea bags—Commonly recommended by nurses and lactation consultants, research has shown that tea bags can actually increase soreness.
Hydrogen peroxide—It is painful and irritating.
Topical Vitamin E—Vitamin E can be toxic for your baby.
Restricting time at the breast—this just makes your baby hungrier. He may be more aggressive at the breast and less likely to be patient enough to latch correctly.
Cabbage leaves—Recommended to reduce swelling of engorged breasts, but not helpful for sore nipples.
Nipple creams and oils—Although sometimes soothing, they can cause more problems by making the nipple area so slippery that the baby can’t maintain his latch. Many are not safe for baby.
Using a blow dryer on your nipples after feedings—This practice is drying and irritating to an area that is already tender.
If your nipples are sore, seek the help of an experienced lacation consultant to correct the underlying problem. Breastfeeding should be enjoyable!
Written by Renee Beebe, M.Ed., IBCLC. Renee is a lactation consultant in private practice in Seattle, Washington. She is available for home/hospital visits and phone consultations. Renee can be reached at www.second9months.com
See also: Breastfeeding Myth: Sore Nipples