Cracked nipples appear red, dry and flaky. They feel painful, irritated, and sometimes itchy.
When you have cracked nipples you can help them heal in several ways:
- Start breast feedings on the side with the healthier nipple; your baby will generally feed more gently on the second side.
- Try different breastfeeding positions to see if one is less painful.
- If nursing becomes too painful, exclusively pump for a few days to allow your nipple to heal.
- After nursing, use a saline soak on your nipple. Mix ½ tsp of salt with 1 cup warm water and soak using a silicone breast pump, small bowl, or use a squeeze bottle to gently bathe the area.
- Soak for 5-10 minutes, then pat your nipple dry with a soft cloth.
- Apply ointment or expressed breast milk to your nipple. If you have a yeast infection use an anti-fungal.
- Expose your nipples to the air as much as possible.
- Once a day, gently wash your nipple with mild soap and rinse under warm water, then pat dry.
Cracked nipples can take anywhere from several hours to weeks to heal depending on the severity.
If you continue to have issues with cracked nipples, see an IBCLC who will evaluate your infant's latch and provide other helpful suggestions.