how to heal nipple fissure while breastfeeding

How to Heal Nipple Fissure While Breastfeeding in 2024

Healing nipple fissures while breastfeeding can be a painful and frustrating experience for many new mothers. Nipple fissures are small cracks or cuts on the nipple – they can cause moderate to severe pain during breastfeeding and can seriously hinder a successful breastfeeding journey.

They can be caused by a variety of factors, including improper latch, dry skin, and friction from clothing or breast pumps.

Fortunately for breastfeeding women, there are several effective ways to heal nipple fissures!

With the right care and attention, it is possible to heal this common breastfeeding problem and continue breastfeeding without discomfort or pain.

Understanding nipple fissures

What are nipple fissures?

Nipple fissures, also known as cracked nipples or bleeding nipples, are a common condition among breastfeeding women. They occur when the nipple tissue becomes irritated and inflamed, leading to painful cracks or sores on one or both breasts. Nipple fissures and cracked nipples can be caused by a variety of factors, including poor latch, tongue tie, engorged breasts, nipple irritation, or fungal or yeast infections.

Causes of nipple fissures

Nipple soreness and fissures can be caused by a variety of factors, including:

  • Poor latch or tongue tie

  • Engorged breasts

  • Nipple irritation

  • Fungal or yeast infections

If you are experiencing persistent nipple fissure pain or have signs of infection, such as redness, swelling, or bloody discharge, it is important to consult a lactation consultant or healthcare provider. With proper care and treatment, nipple fissures can heal and breastfeeding can continue.

Prevention of nipple fissures and nipple pain

Untreated nipple fissures can lead to further complications, such as infection or bleeding so it is important to take steps to prevent nipple fissures and promote healing if they occur.

Some tips to prevent nipple fissures include:

  • Ensure proper positioning and latch on during breastfeeding

  • Use breast shells or breast shields to protect the nipples

  • Feed or pump often

  • Wear a properly fitting nursing bra, avoid wearing bras or clothing that are too tight

  • Gently pat the nipples dry after breastfeeding

Proper latching techniques

One of the most effective ways to prevent nipple fissures is to ensure that the baby latches on properly. Nursing moms should position the baby’s chin and mouth so that the whole nipple, including the areola, is in the baby’s mouth. The baby’s tongue should be under the nipple, and the baby’s chin should be touching the breast. The mouth should be encircling the nipple, and the baby’s latch and lips should be flanged outward.

If your baby has a tongue tie or laryngomalacia, a lactation consultant can help with proper latching techniques.

Using a nipple shield

If the nipples are already sore or cracked, using a nipple shield can help promote healing and relieve soreness. Nipple shields are soft, flexible covers that fit over the nipple and areola. They can protect the nipples from further irritation and help the baby latch on properly. However, nipple shields should only be used under the guidance of a lactation consultant, as they can interfere with milk supply and cause further problems with painful nipples, if not used correctly.

If the nipples are cracked or bleeding, nursing mothers can use breast shells to allow air to circulate around the cracked nipple and promote healing. Breast shells can also help with reverse pressure softening, a technique that gently pushes the cracked nipple tissue back toward the chest wall to relieve pressure and promote healing.

Frequent feeding and pumping

Frequent feeding and pumping can also help prevent nipple fissures. Nursing mothers should nurse their babies every 2-3 hours, or whenever the baby shows signs of hunger. You can store your milk in milk bags or pool together using the pitcher method. Using a breast pump correctly can also help relieve engorged breasts and prevent further nipple irritation. Expressed milk can be used to begin breastfeeding and relieve soreness.

If you need to express milk, be sure to use a breast pump correctly to avoid further irritation or engorged breasts.

Wear a properly fitted bra

Avoid wearing bras or nursing bras that are too tight or made of rough material on painful nipples. Try to get measured by a specialist for your nursing bra from about 36 weeks pregnant – it will be one of the most important pieces of clothing in your wardrobe for the next few months so it is worth getting it right at this stage.

Pat nipples dry after feeding

To prevent infection, nipples should be cleaned with warm water and gently pat or air dry the nipples before and after breastfeeding.

Overall, preventing nipple fissures requires proper positioning and latching techniques, frequent feeding and pumping, and taking steps to promote healing and prevent infection.

How to heal nipple fissure while breastfeeding

Pain relief measures for sore nipples

One of the most common symptoms of nipple fissures is nipple pain. To relieve the pain, breastfeeding mothers can use several pain relief measures.

  • One effective way is to massage breast milk onto the top of the nipple. Breast milk has healing properties that can help soothe sore nipples.

  • Another way is to use soothing gel pads between feedings. Gel pads can provide a cooling sensation and help relieve pain.

  • Nursing bras that fit properly and breast shields can also help reduce nipple irritation and pain.

Healing ointments and creams

Using healing ointments and nipple creams can also help promote the healing of nipple fissures. Some creams contain natural ingredients like lanolin or coconut oil, which can help moisturize and soothe the nipple tissue. If the nipple fissure is caused by a fungal infection, antifungal creams can be used to treat the fungal infection first.

Alternative remedies

There are also several alternative remedies that can help heal nipple fissures.

  • Warm compress or water compresses can be used to soothe the nipple area and promote healing.

  • Wear breast shells to allow air to circulate around the nipple and prevent further irritation.

  • Reverse pressure softening can also be used to gently pat the nipple area and reduce engorgement.

  • Nursing positions that promote healing, such as the football hold or lying down on your side with your hips flexed, can also be helpful. Invest in a good breastfeeding chair to make positioning easier.

  • If the nipple fissure is caused by a tongue tie, having the baby’s tongue tie corrected can help prevent further nipple damage.

Overall, healing nipple fissures while breastfeeding can take time and patience. It is important to promote healing and prevent further damage to the nipple area. Using pain relief measures, healing ointments and creams, and alternative remedies can help promote healing and relieve nipple fissure pain. If the nipple fissure is severe or does not heal, seek the advice of a healthcare provider.

What if nipple fissures aren’t treated?

It is important to note that untreated nipple cracks or fissures can lead to more serious problems, such as infection, bleeding nipples and scarring. If you are experiencing nipple pain or cracked nipples, it is recommended to seek the advice of a lactation consultant or healthcare provider.

Signs of infection, such as redness, swelling, or discharge from one or both breasts, should be addressed promptly.

Left untreated, deeper fissures can become more painful, making it difficult to breastfeed. In some cases, nipple fissures can lead to a fungal or yeast infection or mastitis, which requires medical treatment.

Nipple fissures and nipple pain are huge barriers to a successful breastfeeding journey. Breastfeeding problems such as these can lead to increased fatigue, stress and ultimately low milk supply which are all leading reasons as to why mothers choose to stop breastfeeding before 6 months.

Untreated nipple fissures can make breastfeeding more difficult and painful, which may lead to a decrease in milk supply and even premature weaning.

When to seek medical help for cracked nipples

While most cases of nipple fissures can be treated at home, there are some instances where medical attention is necessary.

At the first sign of latching problems, nipple pain or breastfeeding problems of any kind make sure you reach out to a lactation consultant. Early intervention can be the difference between a long breastfeeding journey and a short one.

If you experience persistent nipple pain, cracked or bleeding nipples, or signs of infection such as a warm nipple, redness, swelling, or discharge, it is important to seek medical help immediately.

If you suspect that your baby has a tongue tie or is not latching correctly, it is important to consult a lactation consultant or healthcare provider. These issues can cause further nipple irritation and prevent proper healing.

Remember, it is safe to continue breastfeeding even with cracked or bleeding nipples, as long as you take steps to prevent infection and promote healing.

With proper care and attention, most nipples heal within a few days to a week, allowing you to continue breastfeeding comfortably.


The good news is that healing a nipple fissure while breastfeeding is definitely possible! You just need to find the right combination of medical treatments and lifestyle changes that work for you.

While you’re going through the healing process, remember to be patient and consistent with the self-care steps you take. Get enough rest, keep your nipples clean and dry, and consider using topical nipple creams like lanolin cream to soothe any discomfort.

By following the tips outlined in this blog post, such as ensuring proper latch and positioning during breastfeeding, using nipple protectors, using warm compresses and applying ointments or creams, you can speed up the healing process and prevent further complications.

If your condition worsens or you develop signs of infection, it’s crucial to seek medical attention.

With proper care and attention, you can heal nipple fissures and continue to enjoy the amazing benefits of breastfeeding for both you and your baby!

Further reading: When Can I Breastfeed After Drinking Calculator


Have questions? I have answers.

Nipple fissures can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks to heal, depending on the severity.

It is possible to continue breastfeeding with nipple fissures, but it may be painful and require extra care.

To heal a cut on your nipple from breastfeeding, try applying a lanolin-based nipple cream and reassess your breastfeeding techniques.

Nipple fissures during breastfeeding can be caused by a variety of factors, including improper latch, dry skin, and infections.

Find more posts like this on my blog.

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