What Causes Sore Nipples Complete Fact Sheet

What Causes Sore Nipples Complete Fact Sheet

Sore Nipples And Breastfeeding

Being a mother is a tough job. In the early days after pregnancy, handling and taking care of a newborn is not an easy task. Breastfeeding your newborn is a different experience for many moms. Some moms feel perfectly ok while others can face various complications. Sore breast is a common problem of lactating mothers. Your nipples can hurt while breastfeeding your child and it can literally bring tears.

Why sore breasts happen?

Sore breasts can happen due to many reasons. It can be anything from incorrect latching to infection. However, the possible causes of sore breasts are

Causes Of Sore Nipple

Breast engorgement

Due to continuous breastfeeding, breast engorgement can occur. Swollen breasts can be very tender and can cause pain while breastfeeding.

Incorrect Latching

During breastfeeding, if your baby is not latched properly it can cause sore breasts. Always check for the signs if your baby is properly latched before breastfeeding.
In proper latching when you pull the bottom lip of baby, you can see the tongue. During breastfeeding, the baby’s ear should wiggle and jaw should move in circular motions.
If you hear clicking or smacking noises your baby is not latched properly. Baby’s chin must touch breast for proper latching.


These are white small spots on the nipple. During breastfeeding these spots can hurt and cause pain.


It is an infection that can cause sore nipples during breastfeeding.


Regular breastfeeding can cause blisters on nipples. These blisters can damage the skin and cause severe pain.

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It is a condition in which blood vessels squeeze due to continuous sucking action. The cut off in blood flow can cause pain and sore breasts.

Incorrect use of breasts pumps

Incorrect use of breast pumps can be hard on breasts. It may cause damage to your nipples resulting in sore breasts.

Forceful suck

A strong and fierce suck by the baby can hurt nipples.

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Fungal infection

Fungal infection due to improper cleaning of breast and nipples can cause burning sensation and inflammation. Itching and redness can also occur.


Changing levels of estrogen and progesterone during and before periods and after menopause can cause sore breasts. Estrogen causes breast ducts to enlarge while progesterone cause milk glands to swell.


Sometimes due to climatic situation or body conditions, dryness of skin can occur. Like in winters skin is most likely to get dry. Dryness can cause cracked skin and sore nipples.

Eczema or dermatitis

Worse skin conditions can cause dry patches and even bleeding in the skin area.

Teeth bite

Infants when on the teething process, try to reduce their pain by biting nipples. This is the one of the major reasons of  sore breasts and nipples.


Tender and swollen breasts are common during the first trimester of pregnancy. If it is first pregnancy your body prepares itself for the lactation process in the future. This can cause sore breasts.

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How long do sore nipples last?

During breastfeeding sore nipple is a common problem. Especially if it is your first pregnancy.However, sore nipples during the first few days of breastfeeding are normal. The body takes time to adjust itself for new processes. Your sore nipples should not last more than few days. If the problem persists, consult your doctor.

Can sore nipples decrease milk supply?

Sore nipples and tender breasts are common issues for lactating mothers. It can cause pain, itching, and swelling in the area. Sore nipples can decrease milk supply and also affect your breastfeeding as mommies try to stop breastfeeding their child, when in pain. So sore nipples must be treated well so that the lactation process can be resumed without any problem and babies can get nutrition and food without ceasing.

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Treatment for sore nipples

Sore nipples must be treated well to continue breastfeeding. However, mothers are advised not to stop breastfeeding for the sake of the child and their own health. Continuous breastfeeding will help to sustain your milk supply and will prevent you from engorgement and blebs. Even if your baby swallows blood from your nipple it is not harmful for your child so don’t stop breastfeeding.
If one nipple gets sore, try to breastfeed from the other one but don’t stop breastfeeding.
  • Always check if your baby is properly latched during breastfeeding.
  • After lactation, pour some breast milk on your nipples to keep them moist and prevent them from dryness and cracks.
  • Don’t use any chemical or cream on your breast and especially without prescription. It can harm your baby if your baby accidentally swallows it.
  • Use ice pads to soothe your nipples and areola.
  • Consult your doctor if you are having skin conditions like rash, infection or eczema.
  • You can use painkillers with consultants advice.
  • If you are pregnant while lactating, you can continue with your doctor advice until it is not harmful to you.
  • When you have to stop breastfeeding, use breast pumps to regulate your milk supply. Quitting breastfeeding can reduce your milk supply and it can be very painful when you start again.

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Complications caused by sore nipples

Sore breasts can be very painful and irritating. They can cause
  • Bitter and cracked nipples along with bleeding and discomfort.
  • It can reduce your milk supply. You need to use breast pumps to avoid a reduction in milk supply.
  • Sore nipples can cause many breast problems like engorgement and blebs.
  • They can also cause broken and cracked skin which may allow bacteria to enter your skin and cause an infection like mastitis.

How To Avoid Sore Nipples?

With little maintenance and care, you can prevent this painful experience.

To prevent sore nipples

  • Always use a nursing pillow while breastfeeding your child. This will allow proper latching and will generate comfort during the breastfeeding process.
  • Use different breastfeeding techniques like the use of a breast pump for breastfeeding. It will not only prevent sore nipples but will also bring comfort if you are already having sore breasts.
  • Always use alternate positions and keep changing them when you are breastfeeding your child. It will help in proper latching and prevents blebs and engorgement.
  • Keep your breasts clean. Wash them gently with mild soap and water. It will prevent fungal infections to pop on your nipples.
  • Rinse your breasts with salt water to clean and disinfect the skin area.
  • Feed your baby more often as it will keep your breast softer.
  • If your breasts are fuller before breastfeeding, try to take out some milk first. Fullness cause hardened breasts and the baby is more comfortable while lactating from soft breasts.
  • Change your nursing pads regularly to maintain proper hygiene.
  • Don’t snatch the breasts out of baby mouth when you are done. Place your finger in the baby’s mouth to break the suction and then pull out gently.


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