Nipple Blister or Milk Bleb: Causes, Treatment, & Prevention

How to get rid of milk blisters: Remedies to treat and prevent them

Blisters are sacs of fluids formed as a result of an injury on the outer layer of the skin. Blisters are normally filled with clear fluids, but sometimes, they are filled with pus or blood (blood blisters). You can find blisters on your hands, feet, or even the breast. Blisters can be found anywhere on the surface of the body that is exposed to injury. 

Blisters formed on the breast or nipple can be excruciating, especially to a breastfeeding woman. Sometimes the pain might be severe to the point that it interferes with breastfeeding. Based on the type of blister formed, you might be required to stop nursing your baby for some time. We’ll narrow our attention in this article to the blisters that are formed around the areola, nipples, and breast region of a woman’s body. 

Types of Nipple Blisters and Their Causes

Milk Blisters

Milk blisters are sometimes referred to as blocked nipple pores or milk blebs. This situation occurs when an unusual growth of a small piece of the skin obstructs the milk duct. The milk that was supposed to flow through the ducts then gathers around the blocked duct, which could be very painful; a yellow or sometimes a white dot can be seen on the nipple.

Any forceful attempt to make the milk flow through the duct by squeezing will cause a blister’s protrusion. Most blisters are usually a result of friction, but sometimes milk blisters can look just like friction blisters in appearance, as a small amount of milk does gather behind the milk blister.

Some of the main causes of milk blisters include: 

  • Inappropriate sucking and latching by the baby
  • Excessive supply of milk during nursing
  • Exerting too much pressure on a spot in the breast
  • Thrush Yeast (causes more than one blisters instead of a single blister)

The formation of white spots around the nipple can also be a result of a blockage in the milk duct. Sometimes milk or fat can solidify to cause the blockage, leading to mastitis.

Friction Blisters

Friction blisters are formed when there is a consistent application of pressure or vigorous rubbing around the breast region. It causes bubbles that contain fluids that are red to interfere with breastfeeding. Such situations cause pains during breastfeeding. 

Constant application of pressure or rigorous rubbing could result from your baby latching inadequately during breastfeeding or improper use of a breast pump. It can also be a result of wearing nipple shields or wearing an unfit nursing bra. 

The occurrence of friction blisters doesn’t and should not stop you from breastfeeding, even though it can be painful. However, the baby would stop feeding when the blister bursts, as there would be an unpleasant change in the taste of the breast milk.

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Treatment/Remedies for Milk Blisters

Milk blisters can normally be treated at home with some basic procedures, or you can visit a doctor. Some of the best treatments include:

Solution of Salt 

Mix two teaspoons of Epsom salts in one glass of hot water and allow to cool down slightly. To remove the blockage, dip the nipples in the solution of salt and warm water about three to four times every day.

Massaging the Nipples 

You can continuously add gentle touches or pressure in the form of a massage around the nipple to release the blister. Avoid applying too much pressure that can cause pain in the area. This treatment is better done after a saline soak or bath because the skin will be very soft. 

Apply Warm Compress on the Nipple 

To apply a compress, soak a clean cloth in warm water and squeeze away the excess liquid. Then use the cloth to press on the nipple for about 15 minutes gently. Then dry off the skin before breastfeeding.

Apply Olive Oil on the Nipple 

The olive oil application is made to keep the nipple soft and moist all day long. Soak a cotton pad in olive oil and place it inside the bra to cover the nipple. Change the cotton pad at least two times every day. Ensure to wipe off the nipple gently before breastfeeding.

Expressed Milk 

Breast milk is known to have antimicrobial properties, which is why breastfeeding is a reliable way to boost the immune system. It has not been scientifically proven yet, but there are valid claims that breast milk can be used to prevent milk blisters from becoming infected. It doesn’t cost anything to give it a try by applying some expressed breast milk on the nipple and observe if it relieves discomfort.

Regular Breastfeeding 

Another way to stimulate the flow of static milk through the duct is by increasing breastfeeding frequency. Placing the baby’s mouth directly over the blister to enable the suction force to be felt around that area can free any blockage. The baby’s mouth and jaw activities are the tools that drive this process, so ensure the baby is placed in a proper position.  

Regular breast-feeding can remove as well as prevent blockages.

The Use of a Hospital-Grade Breast Pump 

In situations where the milk blisters persist, it may become necessary to employ a breast pump to remove thick milk from the duct. The breast pump should only be used when other options described above have been attempted since the breast pump puts significant pressure on the nipples. 

We recommend using a hospital-grade pump. Try to gradually increase the pump suction until the paste-like milk comes out.

Change of Diets 

Nursing women are always advised to eat healthily. Eating a balanced diet and taking lots of fruits and vegetables may boost the immune system that will help resist some of the fungal infections that are the cause of milk blisters. As a nursing mother, you are also encouraged to continue taking the multivitamins you took during the prenatal period. 

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Please ensure to see your doctor before you decide on the use of supplements during breast-feeding.

Pain Relievers 

If milk blisters cause pain and discomfort, It is usually considered helpful to apply ice packs on blisters to reduce swelling between feedings. Some pain reliefs are also recommended for nursing and can be very useful if taken according to prescription.

A typical example of such pain relief is ibuprofen. It is considered safe and effective to be taken by women that do not have a history of asthma or stomach ulcer. Take according to the recommended dosage.

Women with a history of asthma or stomach ulcer should seek alternate medications from their doctor. 

The Use of a Sterile Needle By a Doctor 

An experienced doctor can free the duct from every solidified milk causing blisters with a sterile needle. It is another option to consider if other home remedies were ineffective in clearing the blister. 

Though effective, it is usually regarded as a temporary solution as the duct can become filled up again once there is an accumulation of milk within the area subsequently—hence the need to attack the root cause of the blister.

Avoid doing this treatment at home so as not to risk having infections or mastitis.

Medications and Prescriptions 

Once a bacterial infection or a thrush causes a milk blister, the nursing mother must visit a doctor for their medications. 

The doctor would then prescribe the use of antifungal medications for thrush for both the mother and child. In comparison, antibiotics is used for bacterial infections.

Treatment/Remedies for Friction Blisters

  • As stated earlier, friction blisters are mainly formed due to incorrect latching by your baby. It is, therefore, pertinent to understand the signs of proper latching during nursing. Then ensure to guide the baby to achieve adequate latching.
  • Switching of positions during latching can also help prevent the pressure from being exerted on the same side of the areola every time. Babies would naturally latch stronger at the beginning of nursing, so you might want to alternate the breast during breastfeeding. 
  • Another vital thing to do is break the latch’s suction after you have finished feeding the baby. You can achieve that by placing your finger at the side of the baby’s mouth then allow the finger to skid slowly into the mouth. 
  • Breast pumps should not be used at high suction levels consistently because it can damage the nipple. Ensure that the flanges of the pump and nipple shield fit perfectly.
  • Friction blisters are usually known to heal on their own after about seven days. Medications such as pain relievers like Tylenol or ice packs are also effectively used to relieve discomforting pains during breastfeeding. 
  • You should know it is time to see a doctor or medical professional when there is a recurring inflammation, blisters, swellings, pus, fever, or even oozing.
  • Nipple blisters can result from various causes, but milk blisters and friction blisters seem to be common causes of breastfeeding mothers. However, there are various means of treating these blisters, and this article provides the right information.

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