Breastfeeding And Cracked Nipples

  • Kiran Kaur ChimaBachelor's degree, Biology/Biological Sciences, General, University of Lincoln, United Kingdom
  • Margaret Musanga MalenyaBachelor of Science - BS, Physical Therapy/Therapist, Universidad CEU San Pablo, Madrid, Spain

Breastfeeding is crucial for the development of infants. Whilst it is beneficial for the baby to grow, it often creates complications for first-time mothers. Many experience nipple cracking, which is a result of the skin around the nipples becoming dry or fissured. 

As a result, breastfeeding may become painful. Any discomfort caused is a result of not proper breastfeeding technique.1 Cracked nipples are caused by the baby not latching on and causing the skin around the nipple to become tender and crack.2


Breastfeeding, though a natural process, requires learning and practice, both for the mother and the baby. Nipple cracking, also known as sore or damaged nipples, occurs when the skin around the nipple becomes dry, irritated, or fissured. 


There are a couple of factors that cause cracked nipples:

Poor latch and positioning

The most common cause of nipple cracking is an incorrect latch. When the baby doesn't latch on to the breast correctly, it can lead to nipple trauma. The baby may only suck on the nipple, causing friction and discomfort. The use of Artificial Nipples or Pacifiers early on can create nipple confusion for the baby and lead to an improper latch during breastfeeding.

Tongue tie or lip tie in the baby

Some babies are born with a condition called tongue tie or lip tie, where a piece of tissue restricts the movement of the tongue or lip. This condition can hinder the baby's ability to latch deeply, increasing the risk of nipple cracking.2

Sucking problems and improper breastfeeding techniques

Some babies may have sucking difficulties, making it harder for them to maintain a proper latch during breastfeeding. Additionally, if the mother uses improper breastfeeding techniques, it can contribute to nipple cracking.

Skin sensitivity and hormonal changes in the mother

The skin around the nipple area is sensitive, and hormonal changes during pregnancy and breastfeeding can make it more vulnerable to irritation and cracking.3


Proper latch and positioning techniques

  • The baby's mouth should cover not just the nipple but also a significant portion of the areola
  • The baby's lips should be flanged outward, forming a seal around the breast
  • Ensure a comfortable breastfeeding position for the mother, supporting the baby's head and neck

Addressing tongue tie and lip tie issues

  • Consult with a paediatrician or lactation consultant to diagnose and address tongue tie or lip tie concerns
  • A simple and safe procedure can be done to release the tongue or lip tie, improving the baby's ability to latch properly

Breast care and hygiene

  • After each feeding, gently pat the nipples dry and allow them to air dry for a few minutes
  • Apply lanolin or natural nipple creams to moisturise and protect the nipples from dryness and irritation

Recognizing early signs of nipple damage and seeking help

  • Pay attention to any discomfort, pain, or visible signs of cracking or irritation
  • Don't hesitate to seek guidance from a lactation consultant or healthcare professional if issues arise4,5


If nipple cracking occurs, there are several remedies that can help alleviate the pain:

Applying ointments

  • Lanolin-based creams or natural nipple creams can soothe and protect cracked nipples
  • Ensure the products used are safe for both the mother and the baby during breastfeeding by checking with your doctor2

Using breast shells or nipple protectors

  • Breast shells can create a barrier between the nipples and clothing, preventing further friction
  • Nipple protectors can provide relief by keeping the baby's mouth away from direct contact with the damaged nipples6

Using cold or warm compresses for pain relief

  • Applying a cold compress before breastfeeding can help numb the area and reduce pain
  • A warm compress after feeding can promote blood flow and aid in healing

Expressing milk by hand or using a breast pump

  • Temporarily expressing milk by hand or with a breast pump can give the nipples time to heal while still providing breast milk for the baby

Consulting a lactation consultant or breastfeeding specialist

  • A lactation consultant or breastfeeding specialist can offer personalised guidance and support for managing nipple cracking effectively7


Breastfeeding is crucial for the development of the baby, and it can be a difficult time for the mother if she is experiencing pain and discomfort. There are several remedies that can help alleviate the pain of nipple cracking by using medically recommended ointments, numbing the nipple area or using protectors and other remedies.


When should I seek medical help for nipple cracking?

While most cases can be managed at home, consider seeking medical help if:

  • The cracked nipples show signs of infection, such as redness, swelling, or warmth
  • The condition persists or worsens despite using remedies and proper breastfeeding techniques
  • The baby's weight gain is affected due to feeding difficulties caused by nipple cracking

Can I continue breastfeeding with cracked nipples? 

In most cases, breastfeeding can continue even with cracked nipples. Addressing the root cause, improving latch and positioning, and using appropriate remedies can help manage nipple cracking effectively while ensuring your baby continues to receive essential nutrients from breast milk.8

How long does it take for cracked nipples to heal?

The healing time for cracked nipples varies from person to person. With proper care and treatment, most nipple cracks heal within a few days to a week. However, in some cases, it may take a bit longer. Consistency in using remedies and ensuring a good latch during breastfeeding can speed up the healing process.9


  1. Santos KJ da S, Santana GS, Vieira T de O, Santos CA de ST, Giugliani ERJ, Vieira GO. Prevalence and factors associated with cracked nipples in the first month postpartum. BMC Pregnancy Childbirth. 2016 Aug 5;16(1):209.
  2. [Internet]. 2023 [cited 2023 Jul 26]. Sore nipples - breastfeeding challenges - start for life. Available from:
  3. Trust) N (National C. NCT (National Childbirth Trust). 2022 [cited 2023 Jul 26]. Sore nipples when breastfeeding | Baby & toddler, Feeding articles & support | NCT. Available from:
  4. IBCLC AS. Breastfeeding Basics. 2015 [cited 2023 Jul 26]. Sore nipples. Available from:
  5. [Internet]. 2020 [cited 2023 Jul 26]. Sore or cracked nipples when breastfeeding. Available from:
  6. Chow S, Chow R, Popovic M, Lam H, Merrick J, Ventegodt S, et al. The use of nipple shields: a review. Front Public Health [Internet]. 2015 Oct 16 [cited 2023 Jul 26];3:236. Available from:
  7. Tait P. Nipple pain in breastfeeding women: causes, treatment, and prevention strategies. J Midwifery Womens Health. 2000;45(3):212–5.
  8. Web-Pampers-US-EN [Internet]. [cited 2023 Jul 26]. How do i keep breastfeeding with bleeding nipples? | pampers. Available from:
  9. CDC. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2021 [cited 2023 Jul 26]. What to expect while breastfeeding. Available from:
This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

Get our health newsletter

Get daily health and wellness advice from our medical team.
Your privacy is important to us. Any information you provide to this website may be placed by us on our servers. If you do not agree do not provide the information.

Kiran Kaur Chima

Bachelor's degree, Biology/Biological Sciences, General, University of Lincoln, United Kingdom

Hi! Hope you found the article informative. I am a passionate biology student at the University of Lincoln, driven by an insatiable curiosity about drug development and the intricacies of disease treatment. My academic journey has allowed me to delve deep into the world of biology, where I have uncovered the fascinating mechanisms behind health and illness. I aspire to share my knowledge to make health more understandable for all, contributing to a world where cutting-edge science meets everyday understanding, ultimately improving lives through informed choices and innovation.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked * presents all health information in line with our terms and conditions. It is essential to understand that the medical information available on our platform is not intended to substitute the relationship between a patient and their physician or doctor, as well as any medical guidance they offer. Always consult with a healthcare professional before making any decisions based on the information found on our website.
Klarity is a citizen-centric health data management platform that enables citizens to securely access, control and share their own health data. Klarity Health Library aims to provide clear and evidence-based health and wellness related informative articles. 
Klarity / Managed Self Ltd
Alum House
5 Alum Chine Road
Westbourne Bournemouth BH4 8DT
VAT Number: 362 5758 74
Company Number: 10696687

Phone Number:

 +44 20 3239 9818