Milk blisters, commonly known as milk blebs, affect many breastfeeding moms. A clogged nipple pore is basically what these tiny dots on your nipple are. Although they appear to be harmless, they can be quite uncomfortable, especially if your infant is breastfeeding.
The good news is that milk blebs may be treated in a variety of ways. Let's look at what milk blebs are and how to deal with them.
What are Milk Blisters?
During breastfeeding, milk blisters can be prolonged and painful, lasting for many days or even weeks until the skin in the affected region heals. When a little piece of skin grows over a milk duct opening, milk backs up behind it - causing milk blisters.
A milk blister appears as a white, clear, or yellow dot on the nipple or areola. You will feel discomfort concentrated in the area and immediately behind it. The blister will typically bulge outward if you squeeze the breast as the milk is pushed down the ducts.
Milk blisters are different from “blood blisters” which as blisters on the nipple caused due to friction from a badly fitting nipple shield or pump.
Oversupply and pressure on that part of the breast are common reasons for blocked ducts and might be the underlying cause of a milk blister. Blisters can be caused by friction on the nipple's tip due to your baby's latch. Milk blisters can also be caused by thrush or yeast.
What are the Remedies for Milk Blisters?
You may be wondering, “Do milk blebs go away?” Typically, milk blisters go away after a couple of days or weeks without treatment. You may or may not experience pain but if they are painful, here are some methods you can try to make it go away easily.
- Loosen the milk that has been trapped in the pores. Warm, moist compresses can assist to release clogged nipple pores and your baby can help to remove the bleb by nursing. To release a milk bleb that has been caught in a nipple pore, dip a cotton ball in olive oil and dab it over the affected area. Some moms use cotton soaked in vinegar as it helps to dissolve the calcium in the milk bleb.
- Before each feeding, apply a warm, moist compress. If your skin has covered up a nipple pore, softening it with a warm, damp compress before feeding will assist to relax it so that when your baby feeds, the skin opens and the bleb is released. You could also try to use two tablespoons of Epsom salts to one cup of water and soak in the bathtub.
- Gently apply pressure. When your baby nurses, he or she is the best person to apply pressure to the blister, especially after you have applied a warm, wet compress. However, after using a compress, you can also gently massage the region beneath the bleb to see whether it will release. Don't use a pump because it pulls instead of pushing the milk from behind.
- Use an antibiotic ointment. If you suspect the bleb is infected, or if a bleb has opened up, use an antibiotic ointment to the afflicted region. Since some people have skin sensitivity to neomycin, choose your ointment carefully. Apply a small quantity after each feeding, enough to cover the region.
- Nurse with the blistered breast. Nurse first on the breast with the milk blister immediately after applying heat. Use breast compression and try to hand express back behind and down toward the nipple before nursing to release any thicker milk that has built up in the duct. This duct can occasionally express clumps or strings of solidified milk (typically of a toothpaste consistency).
Can a Milk Blister Cause Mastitis?
Mastitis (breast inflammation) has been linked to milk blisters. Mastitis is caused by milk that has clogged up in a portion of the breast. If not treated, this can turn into an infection and it needs to be treated as soon as possible. Mastitis is increased by stress, delayed nipple wound healing, engorgement, and persistent breast discomfort. Mastitis can develop when a clogged duct fails to drain, or when the excess milk in your breast produces inflammation and swelling.
If the remedies that you follow for relieving milk blisters are not working and you feel extreme pain and discomfort, it is best to seek advice from a medical health practitioner.