Nipple cracks during feeding - what to do, how to treat? Ointments, creams, prevention
Often, a very delicate problem arises before breastfeeding mothers when it comes to breastfeeding. This problem is nipple cracks.
Often the scale of the problem is such that a woman is forced to give up breastfeeding altogether, leaving the child without a natural and most useful source of nutrition, and depriving herself of one of the most important functions, which, in general, during normal lactation should not cause noticeable discomfort and so all the more painful sensations.
In addition to the discomfort that cracks deliver, damage to the skin of the nipples can lead to infection and the development of the so-called. lactational mastitis - inflammation of the structures of the mammary gland.
In this article, you will learn about the mechanism of formation of cracks, methods of prevention, modern methods of solving such a delicate problem by the forces of traditional and alternative medicine.
- Why do nipple cracks occur?
- What do nipple cracks look like?
- Should you stop breastfeeding if your nipples are cracked?
- What can not be done with cracked nipples?
- Treatment of cracked nipples
- Traditional and unconventional methods of treating cracked nipples
- Several important rules of prevention
Why do nipple cracks occur?
Most often, a similar problem develops from the very first days of breastfeeding. There may be several reasons for this:
- Improper attachment of the baby to the breast. The baby may not latch onto the breast correctly. This is the most common and most likely cause of cracks. At the same time, it does not matter at all for how long the mother gives the baby the breast, 3 minutes, 30 minutes or more. But with frequent feeding, the irritation of the nipples becomes more intense, which means that cracks with a characteristic pain syndrome appear more actively and rapidly.
Forcible interruption of the feeding process. The skin of the nipples is extremely delicate and it is unacceptable to exert an increased effect on it. This is exactly what happens if the mother tries to forcibly interrupt the feeding process and "pull out" the nipple from the baby's mouth. Reflexively, the baby clenches the jaw harder, trying to hold the breast, the skin is irritated and cracked. The same happens when the baby is not properly attached to the breast, when the baby's abdomen is directed upwards, and not pressed against the mother's body.
- Insufficient or improper breast skin hygiene. Human skin is covered with a natural lubricant that prevents drying and exposure to adverse external factors. Often mothers are too diligent in caring for their breasts: they wash their breasts with soap, wipe dry with a towel, treat them with aggressive household chemicals, as well as antiseptics, etc. At the same time, the natural protective layer of the skin is washed off, leaving the epidermal structures vulnerable.
There are many other possible reasons why cracks form on the nipples:
- Hypersensitivity of the skin (an individual feature, in particular, we are talking about the skin of the nipple, which is already sensitive to friction).
- Dry skin of the nipple and areola itself.
Lack of vitamins (in particular, we are talking about a lack of vitamin A, which is precisely responsible for the normal synthesis of connective tissue).
- Development of lesions of the oral mucosa in a child (thrush, etc.). Leads to irritation of the skin of the nipples with fungi - candida.
- Improper technique for expressing excess milk or using a breast pump.
- Mechanical damage to the nipples during feeding (if the child already has teeth, he may bite the nipple).
- Milk leaking.
The above reasons do not exhaust the whole set of possible reasons, but knowing them, you can prevent the appearance of cracks. But if the cracks have already appeared and made themselves felt, it is important to take the necessary measures in time to eliminate them.
What do nipple cracks look like?
Determining a nipple crack is not difficult even for a primiparous mother. The fissure is similar to a longitudinal incision starting from the base of the nipple and extending along the periphery. In the most severe cases, the areola of the nipple may also crack.
Cracks are diverse in their appearance and size: they can be both multiple and single, affect one or both breasts at once, be located at the very surface or capture deep layers of the skin. From time to time, cracks can bleed, and an ichor can stand out from them.
Any, even the smallest, mechanical impact on the nipple (for example, touching) causes pain and discomfort, not to mention the baby's attempts to suckle. This causes an even more intense pain syndrome. It is often because of the severe pain that mothers refuse to breastfeed.
Cracked nipples are a direct gateway to infection, so the process that is often safe at first glance is complicated. Infectious mastitis may develop, followed by inflammation of the nipples and tissue suppuration, deep ulcers, erosion, etc.
Should you stop breastfeeding if your nipples are cracked?
Of course, giving up breastfeeding is not the most sensible decision. This will quickly lead to a natural cessation of milk production, and therefore the baby will quickly refuse to breastfeed.
If the cracks are single, or multiple, but shallow (in a word, the process of tissue damage is not too intense), the position can be saved by special silicone breast pads (Tippee, Avent, Tommee, Medela, Contact, Pigeon, Lindo, Conpol, Nuk, Chicco, etc.) etc.). They protect the nipples from injury while allowing breastfeeding to be maintained. But if the amount of damage is large, the damage to the nipples is significant and bleeding, even this measure will not be enough.
In this case, you cannot do without special treatment. During treatment, the child should not be breastfed. This does not mean that the baby will not receive milk. The milk is pumped into a container, and then you need to feed the baby with a pipette or spoon. It is better to refuse bottles right away. It is much easier to suck from them, and therefore the baby can refuse to breast.
If tissue damage is complicated by the development of infection, breastfeeding is also refused, and the baby is fed with breast milk after its preliminary pasteurization.
What can not be done with cracked nipples?
As mentioned, cracks in the nipples form very quickly (possibly even after the first attachment of the baby to the breast). Inexperienced mothers are confused by this, and they begin to fuss in search of treatment. It is clear that extremely rarely taken measures can be called adequate, and improper treatment is much worse than inaction.
In order not to aggravate the course of the process, it is important to follow the tips:
When carrying out hygiene procedures, you should refuse soap. The soap washes away the natural fatty layer of the skin; moreover, the alkali contained in the soap eats away at the damaged areas, causing unbearable itching and burning.
It is better to refrain from taking antibacterial agents, both local and general (oral), for two reasons:
First, the antibiotic can penetrate into milk, and the child will receive it with the milk.
- Secondly, antibacterial agents seriously inhibit the body's natural defenses. The antibiotic should be taken only for its intended purpose, in a strictly limited number of cases and only as directed by a doctor.
- You should refrain from treating the nipples with aggressive antiseptics for alcohol, i.e. brilliant greens and iodine. They dry out the skin even more and contribute to the formation of new cracks. Also, after their use, pronounced itching and burning are observed.
- The use of alcohol in general (boric acid, medical alcohol) is also prohibited. By applying a cotton swab to such a delicate area of the skin, you can provoke a burn.
- The chest must be dry. If special milk drip pads are used, they should be changed as often as possible. It is best to keep your chest open.
Treatment of cracked nipples
The first thing to start with is to visit a gynecologist. With the appearance of the first cracks, complications (infections, etc.) may develop. It is important to identify complications in the early stages, and only a specialist can do this.
Local treatment: ointments and creams for cracked nipples
Lubricate the nipples with special ointments immediately after feeding. The ointment (or cream) should be absorbed before the next feed. If the product does not have time to be absorbed, it should be washed off with water. The composition of the funds includes several components at once, so ointments can contain dexpanthenol, lanolin. Depending on which active substance is in the composition more, it is possible to classify funds on this basis.
Dexpanthenol based preparations and creams
Dexpanthenol is a derivative of pantothenic acid. Dexpanthenol has an active wound healing effect. The nipples should be lubricated immediately after feeding. Before the next feeding, the ointment is washed off.
There are a number of trade names:
- Dexpanthenol (in the form of an ointment, approximate price - 100 rubles).
Bepanten (the most popular ointment costs about 300 rubles).
- Korneregel (itself is used in ophthalmology, but is suitable for the treatment of cracks in the nipples, the approximate price is 250-270 rubles).
- Mama (special cream from ZAO "Elfa", the cost is about 150 rubles).
- Panthenol and D-panthenol (in the form of a cream, approximate price - 180 rubles).
Zinc oxide products
Zinc oxide has a disinfecting and anti-inflammatory effect, and also prevents infection of damaged skin. Funds based on it must be applied in a thin layer.
- Zinc ointment (approximate price - 30 rubles).
- Desitin (in the form of an ointment, approximate price - 250 rubles).
- Zinc paste (approximate price - 30-50 rubles).
Sudokrem (approximate price - 200 rubles).
- Tsindol (solution, approximate price - 80 rubles).
Lanolin-based creams and ointments
Lanolin preparations have emollient and anti-inflammatory effects. It is impossible to rub in the drug, it must be applied in the thinnest layer of 1 mm and washed off before the next feeding of the child.
- Lanovit with sea buckthorn oil (in the form of a cream, the approximate price is 300-350 rubles).
- PureLan 100 (in the form of a cream, approximate price - 400 rubles).
- Lanolin from Mommycare (in the form of a cream, the approximate price is 1000 rubles).
- BabyLine (in the form of a cream, approximate price - 250 rubles).
- BabyDream (cream form).
NippleCream (from Avent, in the form of a cream, approximate price - 450 rubles).
- Carelan (in the form of a breast care cream).
- Sanosan (in the form of a cream, approximate price - 350 rubles).
- Lanolin from Lansihon (in the form of a cream, approximate price - 750 rubles).
- Nipple cream (manufacturer - Pigeon, approximate price - 250 rubles).
- MultiMam by Ameda (cream form).
- Dawn (in the form of a cream, approximate price - 150 rubles).
Retinol based products
Retinol-based preparations soften the skin and promote rapid epidermal regeneration. They are based on vitamin A.
- Retinol acetate (vitamin A in oil form, approximate price - 50-70 rubles).
We see (ointment, approximate price - 200 rubles).
- Radevit (vitamin complex, approximate cost - 350 rubles).
- Retinoic ointment (approximate price - 250-300 rubles).
Preparations and creams based on natural oils
- MammaDonna (serum, approximate price - 600 rubles).
- NaturaHouse (soothing cream, approximate price - 500 rubles).
- MamaComfort (nipple cream, approximate price - 300 rubles).
Creams based on plant extracts and hydromineral raw materials (Vulnuzan)
Increase the skin's resistance to cracking and other mechanical damage:
- 9 months (balm from Mustela, about 800 rubles).
- Vulnuzan (in the form of an ointment, about 100 rubles).
Babe Laboratorios (cream).
Special wound healing preparations
Promote accelerated regeneration of damaged tissues:
- Actovegin (ointment or gel, about 200 rubles).
- Solcoseryl (ointment, about 200 rubles).
Traditional and unconventional methods of treating cracked nipples
Many drugs of a medicinal nature can really harm the child, which is what mothers fear. In this case, you can resort to using natural methods of treating cracks.
Treatment with your own breast milk. Breast milk can have self-healing effects. To achieve the result, you need to lubricate the nipple with breast milk. Do not wipe off milk, keep breast open.
- Sea buckthorn oil. Sea buckthorn oil is a natural remedy for wound healing. It has no contraindications and is available to almost everyone. In addition, sea buckthorn oil softens the skin and prevents re-cracking of the nipples. Sea buckthorn oil is applied to the nipple skin after each feeding.
- Olive oil. Nourishes the skin, initiating an active metabolism. It has a good softening effect. Ideal for initial crack repair and as a preventive measure. It is applied like sea buckthorn oil.
- Cedar oil. It is a natural vitamin complex (contains vitamins B, E). Nourishes the skin and activates regenerative processes. Prevents the skin from cracking. It is applied like sea buckthorn oil.
- Chlorophyllipt oil solution. It is made on the basis of eucalyptus extract. It has an antiseptic effect, preventing the process from growing to an infectious lesion. Apply to the skin after each feeding. Wash off before the next feeding.
- Aloe juice. Aloe juice (or Kalanchoe) has wound healing and bactericidal effects. Relieves inflammation and pain. A few drops of juice should be dripped onto the damaged area, then cover the place with sterile gauze and a few more drops of juice should be dripped.
- Infusion of calendula (flowers). Has anti-inflammatory and antiseptic effect. A tablespoon of flowers is poured into 200 ml of boiling water (a whole glass). Within 15 minutes, the product is infused. Then moisten sterile gauze in the resulting solution and apply to the affected area. Better to use only during the day.
- Sceptre mullein. It has healing, anti-inflammatory and antiseptic effects. Powder the preparation to sprinkle the wound and pat it with your finger. The procedure should be repeated 2-3 times during the day.
- Dawn and the Power of the Forest (preparation for people). Activates regenerative processes in the layers of the skin. It softens the skin well. It is applied to damaged skin with a thin layer 2-3 times a day. Rinse off before breastfeeding.
- Cabbage leaf (fresh). Fresh cabbage is a source of riboflavin. This substance actively heals wounds, moreover, it is effective for mastitis. Attach the cabbage leaf to the chest. Walk with a leaf during the day, at night attach a fresh cabbage leaf to the breast.
- Birch infusion. Disinfects tissues and promotes rapid healing of cracks. Prepared and applied in the same way as calendula infusion.
Several important rules of prevention
The best way to fix cracks is to prevent them from forming. No one is immune from them, neither primiparous, nor experienced mothers. To avoid cracks, preventive measures must be followed:
- To exclude the forced weaning of the child from the breast.
- The chest should be washed often (1-2 times a day) but without the use of soap and aggressive products.
- To soften the skin of the breast (especially after a shower), you should use special ointments and creams (the most effective in this regard are products based on lanolin).
- Lubricate the nipples with your own milk immediately after feeding.
- Breast skin should not be constantly moisturized. As often as possible, you should ventilate your breasts and change pads if milk is leaking.
The most important thing is to properly attach the baby to the breast:
- The entire torso of the baby should be facing the nipple, not just the head, as mothers usually do. This recommendation is most fully fulfilled if feeding takes place in a position on the side, belly to belly.
- The baby's head should be at the junction of the mother's forearm and shoulder. Thanks to this, the child will be able to independently move his head.
- You cannot help the baby and put the nipple in the mouth. He has to do it on his own.
- The baby's chin and nose should be pressed firmly against the chest.
The author of the article: Lapikova Valentina Vladimirovna | Gynecologist, reproductologist
Education: Diploma in Obstetrics and Gynecology received at the Russian State Medical University of the Federal Agency for Healthcare and Social Development (2010). In 2013 completed postgraduate studies at N.N. N.I. Pirogova.
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