Ask the Lactation Consultant: What can I do about sore nipples?

What can I do to make my nipples feel better?

While you are working with your lactation consultant to correct the latch or other problems, she may offer some of the following items to help promote the healing of your sore nipples: 

  • Hydrogel dressings: These specially designed gel pads that you wear in your bra promote healing and provide comfort. Follow the package directions for use.
  • Medical-grade lanolin: This ointment is applied to the nipples. Follow the package directions for use.
  • Medicated ointment or cream: If you have an infection, your lactation consultant will work with your physician, who may prescribe specific medicated creams or ointments to help. Do not combine these medications with other ointments or the gel pads. Follow your doctor's directions.
  • Saline rinses: After breastfeeding, you can rinse your nipples with a salt water solution made of 1/3 teaspoon salt in 1 cup of warm water. The salt water cleans broken skin and reduces the risk of infection. It should be made fresh each time. Before your next feeding, rinse it off of your nipples with plain water. Salt water rinses can be used before you apply lanolin, hydrogel pads or medicated creams.
  • Breast shells: Shells are plastic domes that you can wear in your bra between feedings to hold the bra off your nipples and allow for air circulation. You can use them in combination with ointments and topical medications.

Rest and eat nutritious foods, especially those rich in protein, vitamin A, the B vitamins and vitamin C to help promote skin healing. Nipple soreness can make breastfeeding very unpleasant, so if you've got it, be sure to get the right help as soon as you can.

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