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Thread: How to heal tear in nipple?

  1. #1

    Default How to heal tear in nipple?

    Hi everyone!

    I've been breastfeeding my nine week old from birth mostly without issue (a couple of blebs and plugged ducts early on, but that's all), but for the last 7-8ish weeks I've had what looks like a tear on the front of the nipple of my right breast. You can clearly see two small flaps of skin that have pulled away from each other and hang open each time he latches and for a short time after. The torn part often sprays a fountain of milk when LO unlatches, and LO constantly unlatches from that breast when I try to feed him from it, I assume because of the massive, forceful fountain of milk that gets poured into his mouth from the tear, and he doesn't like to take a full mouthful of that breast, instead purposely only sucking from the 'teat' of my nipple - I assume because when he tries to latch the way he should, a whole ton of milk gets poured down the back of his throat, causing him to choke. He latches and feeds from my left breast very well. The tear also steadily leaks sometimes when I'm not feeding, or for quite a while after feeding.

    I think it was initially caused by a bleb coming out, as I was suffering from a plugged duct at about the 2 week mark and tried everything I could to relieve it - on the third day I fed LO and experienced an IMMENSE amount of pain (I almost blacked out) for a few seconds, and then the duct was unplugged. I noticed the tear shortly after, so I think the act of the plug coming out tore it open? I'm not sure, just my theory.

    Anyway, I figured I'd just give it time - my nipple doesn't hurt in any way, and it doesn't hurt at all to feed, but LO hates feeding from that breast and when we do, he often gets covered in milk (and so do I). And almost two months later, the tear seems almost bigger, and definitely isn't healing. I'm not sure what to do Can anyone help?
    Last edited by @llli*kazielle; August 7th, 2014 at 10:22 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2009

    Default Re: How to heal tear in nipple?

    Your theory about the bleb sounds reasonable to me. This is well beyond my knowledge really, but I wonder if somehow a nipple pore (what milk comes out of) has been basically blown open.
    This sounds like a pretty severe injury. Why there is no pain I would not hazard to guess, but I would think you would want this looked at, if you have not already. By an IBCLC or a doctor who is very familiar with breastfeeding issues if possible.

    Kellymom.com has a good article on tips for healing injured nipples but I do think this sounds beyond the norm of nipple injury.

    To help baby handle the flow in the meantime, I would suggest the typical too fast flow ideas. Nursing often, nursing leaning back, with baby on top, hand expressing a little prior to nursing, taking baby off when the flow is worst and then putting him back on....Is the flow worst at let down or does it pour out the same the entire feeding?

    Another (perhaps controversial) idea for helping baby handle the flow would be to try a nipple shield, just on that side. It may not work at all because the milk flow may make it slide off. But I have heard of these being used to help baby handle extreme forceful letdown. Again if you visit kellymom.com she has a good article on the pros and cons of shields. Assuming you have normal milk production and baby is gaining well, at this age many of the drawbacks of nipple shield use would be much less, especially if you used it for just one side for a not too long time.
    Last edited by @llli*lllmeg; August 7th, 2014 at 11:05 PM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2006

    Default Re: How to heal tear in nipple?

    What does your midwife or doctor say?

    For cracked skin in the nipple area, my LC recommended a combination of 1% hydrocortisone cream and Bacitracin ointment to combat inflammation and infection. She said to use a pea-sized amount, mixed and applied using a clean fingertip, and said it did not need to be washed off before nursing.

    Cracks can be persistent when they are getting reopened at every feeding. Have you tried varying your baby's nursing position? As a last resort, you could try taking him off that breast altogether for a few days, nursing solely on the good side and hand-expressing or pumping the cracked side to get milk for any supplements that are needed (if one breast doesn't provide enough for baby's needs). That way the breast would get a chance to heal. But when your baby is already unhappy with the right side, allowing him a big break from it could cause him to reject it altogether- which is why I would do this only as a last resort!

    Time may take care of the problem- I had wicked bad cracks for 4.5 months, and just when I thought they would never, ever heal, they started to close up and were gone within a week or so!

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