It’s no surprise that there are dozens of “cures” out there for sore nipples. In my lactation practice, nipple pain is the most common reason that mothers seek help. The only real way to “cure” sore nipples, however, is to fix the underlying cause. It’s usually a faulty latch that causes the problem in the first place. Once the latch is corrected, nipples feel better. Usually the results are immediate.
Some antibiotics and prescription medications can be helpful for badly damaged nipples, but nothing can eliminate the pain completely until the latch problem has been resolved. In your efforts to find relief, you may find remedies promising to cure sore nipples. Often these remedies are useless—or even harmful.
Please avoid these commonly recommended but ineffective strategies for healing sore nipples:
Tea bags—Often recommended by nurses and lactation consultants, research has shown that tea bags can actually increase soreness.
Hydrogen peroxide—It is painful and irritating.
Topical Vitamin E—Vitamin E can be toxic for baby.
Restricting time at the breast—This just makes your baby hungrier. He may be more aggressive at the breast and less likely to be patient enough to latch correctly.
Cabbage leaves—Recommended to reduce swelling of engorged breasts, but not helpful for sore nipples.
Nipple creams and oils—Although sometimes soothing, they can cause more problems by making the nipple area so slippery that the baby can’t maintain his latch. Many are not safe for baby.
Using a blow dryer on nipples after feedings—This practice is drying and irritating to an area that is already tender.
Pulling baby’s chin down after he’s latched on– It’s what’s happening inside the baby’s mouth that’s important!
Remember, there should NEVER be pain with breastfeeding. Pain is a signal to the body that something is not right. If you have any pain with breastfeeding, contact a lactation consultant immediately. This is one issue where a “wait and see” approach can have severe consequences.
See also: “Breastfeeding Myth: Sore Nipples”