Breastfeeding: Milk blisters

My wife is concerned about the presence and persistence of some white puss-filled blisters that are appearing on her nipples. They started appearing on one breast, but now they are on both. It is painful when our baby first latches on but then it subdues. However, it is taking longer and longer for the pain to go away. This situation started out during the first month of breastfeeding and has been getting progressively worse. It doesn't seem to be thrush (there aren't other symptoms). Our baby is five months old. What could these blisters be?


Debbi Donovan

Debbi Donovan is a Board Certified Lactation Consultant, as well as a retired La Leche League Leader. For more than a decade, Debbi... Read more

Milk blisters are very painful! They usually develop on the upper areola and are thought to be caused by a plug of thickened milk, which then seals over and becomes inflamed. They can remain from several days to several weeks, healing on their own by peeling away the outer layer of skin. If blisters are persistent, they may need to be opened by your doctor. Do not puncture them yourself -- this could lead to an infection.

To help make breastfeeding more comfortable, pay close attention to good positioning and attachment. Use very warm compresses (be careful) on the blister to soften, immediately prior to feeds. This not only helps to make you more comfortable, but may allow the plug to pass through as you nurse. (This will not harm your baby.)

Ice packs, used between feeds for about 15 or 20 minutes at a time, may also help to relieve discomfort. It is wise to nurse your baby frequently and express your milk if your breasts are uncomfortable.


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