Milk blisters (or blebs) appear when your baby is not properly latching on during breastfeeding. For example, your baby may fall asleep while nursing, leading to a partial latch-on, or you may need to nurse in an unusual position. Either situation can lead to too much pressure on a particular area of your breast. Milk gets trapped under the skin and builds up to create the appearance of a blister.
Producing too much milk for your baby to ingest can lead to pressure in blocked milk ducts, which can lead to a painful infection called mastitis. Your baby might also develop thrush, a yeast infection in the mouth that can lead to multiple blisters in one or both breasts.
What Are the Symptoms of Milk Blisters?
Many moms don’t have pain or discomfort when they have a milk blister. The bleb appears near or on your nipple as a raised area of skin with milk trapped beneath. It is soft to the touch and may flatten when you press on it.
Sometimes, milk blebs cause discomfort and pain for breastfeeding moms. This happens when the milk bleb blocks one of your milk ducts, so milk is trapped deeper in your breast.
What Is the Treatment for Milk Blisters?
When you catch a milk blister early, you can treat it at home.
Keep nursing. You may be tempted to take a break from nursing your baby, but don’t. Breastfeeding helps to transfer milk out of the duct and clear it. Before nursing, apply a warm compress to your affected breast to help open the duct. If the milk blister is persistent, nurse more often or pump in between nursing to help.
Massage your breast. Starting close to your milk blister nipple, massage the area, working backward toward the milk blister. Apply gentle pressure and work in small circles. Starting behind the blister and working down may add more pressure to the duct and make it worse.
Keep your skin soft. When you moisturize the skin around your nipples, it softens. Softer skin won’t get clogged as easily if you are prone to milk blebs. You can purchase an over-the-counter nipple cream or soak a cotton ball in olive oil. Place a nursing pad between your nipple and your bra to prevent clothing stains. Be sure to gently clean your breast before nursing again.
Can Milk Blisters Be Prevented?
Yes. Here are the ways to prevent milk blisters:
Nurse often. The best way to prevent milk blisters is by nursing frequently and ensuring that your baby has a deep latch. If your baby skips a nursing session, replace the feeding with pumping to prevent engorgement. You can also change nursing positions so that you don’t always have pressure on the same places around your nipple.
Ask for help. If your baby cannot maintain a correct latch on your nipple, ask their pediatrician to refer you to a trained lactation consultant. Your baby may have a lip or tongue tie, or you may need to use certain techniques to ensure a correct latch.
Stay hydrated. Drinking plenty of water is a great way to ensure that your body is hydrated. More water can help increase your milk supply, and it also keeps your skin soft and supple. This prevents dryness that can lead to blocked ducts.
What Are the Complications of Milk Blisters?
Call your doctor right away if a milk blister is persistent or begins to cause pain and discomfort. When a milk blister leads to a clogged duct, you may contract mastitis. Left untreated, mastitis can be a very serious infection that leads to flu-like symptoms and reduced milk supply.
Your doctor may use sterile tools to break open a milk bleb and drain it. If the bleb goes deep into your duct, they may draw out the milk with a needle. This relieves pressure in your breast and encourages healing. You may need to apply an antibiotic ointment to the area for a while afterward to prevent infection.