It cannot be denied that a woman’s body represents a biological wonder, which on many occasions requires a lot of attention and special care to keep it in good health. There are some health-related problems that can get to you and turn into something really unpleasant. One of these problems is pain in your nipples, something that has become quite common today. In many cases women are affected by milk secretion, clear discharge and at other times by a pain known as mastalgia or breast pain. Surely you wonder about the causes of pain, we will talk a little about it in this article.
After delivery, the first milk secreted by your nipples is colostrum, which will become your baby’s main food at birth and during the first week of life. Although it may seem very low, colostrum is essential and sufficient for the newborn member of your family. Milk production will be determined by the demand of your baby, giving way to colostrum to a whiter, more mature and abundant milk. When your breasts begin to fill and the milk is not expressed or consumed, it is likely that some problems will be generated in your breasts.
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At this time the pain may originate in your nipples, this may be a sign that something is not working properly in your body. Any problem that causes cracks in the nipples or the wrong posture of your baby when breastfeeding. Although it can also be a consequence of an infection or dermatitis. Whatever your case, it is best to take the precautions so as not to be affected by the pain in the nipples, because afterwards the healing can be quite complicated. Here we explain what are the main causes of sore nipples (ovulation, pregnancy or breastfeeding), common factors that cause nipple pain, pain treatments, as well as some general recommendations so that nipple pain does not subtract peace of mind from your daily life routine .
What is nipple pain?
Nipple pain is any discomfort that occurs in your breasts, the discomfort can have multiple causes, such as: hormonal changes when you have menstruation or due to pregnancy, which produce high sensitivity in the nipples and a little inflammation. In some cases women only have pain in one breast or both, worrying about the risk of breast cancer.
Having some sensitivity in the nipples is a normal symptom for any woman, so it should not cause you greater concern. But you should always try to act preventively and consider the probable causes of pain to properly rule out other serious complications in your health.
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What are the causes of nipple pain?
The breasts represent one of the most sensitive organs in your body. Besides being quite sensitive to hormonal changes they are also sensitive to external injuries. Within your body there are multiple biological processes at each stage of your life. We will focus on the biological process in order to understand what is causing sore nipples.
Pain during ovulation
After puberty, you started having your menstrual cycles on a regular basis. This cycle developed until your egg has been fertilized and gestation occurs. During ovulation, your body begins to show signs of this process. One of the main signs is sore nipples. The sensitivity in your breasts and nipples rises, especially to the touch. This symptom originates after approximately two weeks after ovulation and if you are a sexually active woman this may indicate a pregnancy.
Pain during pregnancy
The moment you conceive, your body begins to undergo different changes that are necessary for the adaptation of the developing fetus. Increased blood flow in your breast tissues is caused by hormonal fever caused by pregnancy. What makes your nipples and chest swell, you start to notice a tingling and quite sensitivity to pain and touch. The symptoms or sensations are similar to those experienced during ovulation and the menstrual period, but with greater intensity. Around the fourth and sixth week of pregnancy, the sensitivity in your breasts can be experienced prominently. Pain in the nipples can be persistent in most women during the first trimester of pregnancy. The most advisable thing in this case is that you use a mother’s bra.Cold compresses to the affected area can help soothe the pain a bit.
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Pain caused by breastfeeding
One of the most common pains in new mothers is pain during breastfeeding. There are multiple causes of this discomfort during this stage, the causes can include: complications to control it, causing your baby to hold onto the nipple with his mouth to maintain suction. Which generates frequent pulling of your nipples that turn into discomfort. You need to be able to help your baby keep the nipple in his mouth in the correct position. If your nipples bleed or are a little cracked, you can apply some ointment that contains purified lanolin. You should also make sure to clean them very well before breastfeeding your baby.
Your baby’s stuck tongue can be another cause, that is, his tongue may be connected to the lower area of the mouth, generating complications to maintain control over the nipple in his mouth. As a consequence, your baby will not be able to get enough milk and will keep pulling at the breast. If this is your case, it is best to see your doctor and get your baby examined. Your doctor may recommend a simple procedure to treat your tongue lock.
When breastfeeding, yeast infection can cause nipple pain. It is essential that the doctor immediately prescribes some treatment for this condition, since the baby can be affected by candidiasis. In other cases, dermatitis can be the cause of the itchiness and inflammation in your nipples. You will need to apply lotions or creams to decrease pain. Oddly enough, some ill-fitting nursing bras may be causing the pain. Using an inappropriate bra can put a lot of pressure on your nipples, causing increased sensitivity to touch and a lot of pain. It will be very useful to change your bra to a maternity one, since one of the changes during pregnancy is the increase in size in your breasts.Finally, the pain can be caused by the appearance of teeth in the baby.
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Mastitis occurs when one or different lobes of your mammary glands become inflamed. There are multiple causes of mastitis: non-puerperal mastitis or puerperal mastitis. When it occurs in the baby, doctors refer to neonatal mastitis.
SYMPTOMS ASSOCIATED WITH MASTITIS
Acute mastitis can present with some flu-like symptoms, redness, hardening and overheating of an area of the breast. Generally, the inflammation occurs in one breast. Here are some of the most common symptoms:
- Fever higher than 38.5 ºC.
- Nausea, headache, and vomiting.
- Weakness, general pain, weakness and malaise.
- Redness of the affected chest.
- One area of the chest appears round and hard.
- Feeling of pain in the breast as if sticking needles.
- Overheating and swelling of the breast.
- The symptoms of postpartum mastitis are more intense than those of non-puerperal mastitis.
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TYPES OF MASTITIS
There are different types of mastitis that can affect you, in general terms we can talk about: bacterial or infectious mastitis, non-infectious, bilateral and unilateral mastitis; Puerperal, neonatal and postpartum mastitis.
Infectious or bacterial mastitis
The main causative agent of infectious or bacterial mastitis is Staphylococcus aureus. On certain occasions, the abundant production of prolactin or the mastopathy (benign alteration of the breast) can cause inflammation in the breasts. Breast cancer or certain tumors can manifest through mastitis.
Non-infectious mastitis can be caused by increased breast production of discharge. Unable to flow freely, the secretion accumulates. The duct system widens and fluid penetrates into nearby connective tissues. The fluid for the connective tissues constitutes a foreign body, causing an inflammatory resistance.
If you are breastfeeding and mastitis of this type occurs, this may be a consequence of the retention of secretion within the breast. If the retention of milk is not resolved, you run the risk that this mastitis evolves into an infectious mastitis, because bacterial growth is favored by the retention of milk.
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Unilateral mastitis and bilateral mastitis
Bilateral mastitis is when both breasts are affected, while unilateral mastitis originates from one breast. Although the most common mastitis is bilateral, at least 12% of cases.
Postpartum, non-puerperal and neonatal mastitis
Postpartum mastitis occurs during the lactation period, while puerperal mastitis occurs outside the lactation stage. Neonatal occurs in babies infected by bacteria that come from their skin or the genital tract of the mother, usually appears between week two and week four of life, mastitis can be cured through antibiotics to block the infection.
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COMMON CAUSES OF MASTITIS
Generally, mastitis can be caused by: plugged breast ducts, engorgement or accumulation in the breasts of milk or milk stasis (accumulation of milk after a feeding). All this can cause an infection, as well as germs or bacteria that invade the breast tissue through fissures or cracks in the nipples.
WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I NOTICE THE SYMPTOMS OF MASTITIS?
As soon as you begin to notice the symptoms of mastitis, you should call your doctor immediately. Your doctor will likely recommend some home treatment for several days to help ease the discomfort. If your nipple pain is very severe or you have infectious symptoms, your doctor will likely recommend an antibiotic that does not affect breastfeeding . In a day or two you should improve, it is essential that you take the antibiotics according to the doctor’s instructions to prevent the infection from recurring.
DIAGNOSIS OF MASTITIS
The clinical examination is sufficient, if you are a nursing mother. A sample of your milk will be needed to diagnose infectious mastitis. Ultrasound tests will be necessary in the case of non-lactation mastitis, including a blood test or mammogram. The most common mastitis is that which originates in lactation, in contrast, mastitis outside of lactation occurs little and the inflammation is often chronic.
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HOW TO TREAT MASTITIS FROM THE COMFORT OF YOUR HOME?
With a few simple guidelines you can treat mastitis from the comfort of your home:
- Try to rest: so that your body can cope with the infection, try to rest at home. Put aside the typical household chores. Limit visits and let your family help you to recover faster.
- Increase the frequency of breastfeeding: We know that breastfeeding can be quite painful when you have mastitis, but it is essential that you do so. Feed the baby as many times as he demands it. To keep the affected area empty, you need to feed the baby every two hours.
- Use cold compresses: to relieve nipple pain, place cold compresses with each feeding, in addition to calming the pain, it will help reduce inflammation. You should first wrap the compresses in a towel to avoid damaging the skin.
- Warm compresses: for a few minutes you can place a warm towel on the affected breast before feeding your baby, in this way you stimulate milk production and it will be less painful at the time of feeding.
- Pain Medications: Ibuprofen is an over-the-counter inflammatory that can help soothe nipple pain and relieve fever.
- Massages: gently massage the affected area, starting from the nipple to ending in the armpit area.
- Reduce the pressure on your breasts: use bras that are not very tight or better not use them. Your baby should not rest on your chest and you should not sleep on his stomach either.
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PROPER WAY TO BREASTFEED IF I HAVE MASTITIS
Mastitis may cause you a lot of pain in the nipple, but remember that it is essential to feed your baby frequently so that the milk continues to flow and avoid the formation of blockages in the channels. You can breastfeed your baby as follows:
- It is important that you start breastfeeding on the affected breast first to make it empty. If you feel that it is still full, you will probably need to use the breast pump to get enough fluid so that your baby can easily latch onto the breast.
- Make sure he has a good grip on his chest and his mouth covers as much tissue as possible. Emptying your breast will be faster if you use different positions to breastfeed.
- When your baby cannot fully empty the breasts, do it manually or with the breast pump.
- If the pain when breastfeeding is intolerable, you can try expressing the milk and feeding the baby using the bottle.
DOES MASTITIS AFFECT MY BABY?
Your baby will not be harmed by mastitis, although the affected breast may produce less milk.
WHY DOES MASTITIS REPEAT?
If mastitis develops more than once, it is probably due to incomplete healing of the initial infection. Although it may happen that you are more susceptible to stress and fatigue. That is why it is essential that you can rest. If you have very repetitive mastitis episodes, it is necessary that you consult your doctor, because in some cases repetitive mastitis is due to a tumor in the breast, so it is a priority to rule out this probability.
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When we talk about engorgement, we mean inflammation in both breasts due to accumulated milk. If your baby misses a feed or doesn’t nurse enough, fluid builds up. This together with the inflammation of the breast with the elevation of the milk generates an engorgement that causes general discomfort, pain up to fever. The swelling can put pressure on the area where the milk passes (milk ducts) and complicate the flow of milk. Then there is a vicious cycle due to the baby not suckling enough and the breast is full . The areola area or the other part of the breast may be affected by engorgement.
The ducts in your breasts become swollen and plugged when milk collects in the ducts. Contrary to mastitis or engorgement, the swelling is localized in a tiny area of the chest. Normally the obstruction of the duct appears in the area near the armpit. It refers to a hot, red, and painful lump to touch. It is not known for sure what causes this blockage, but the use of very tight bras can be a determining factor or the solid deposits of the milk.
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Breast abscess originates from improperly treated infectious mastitis. Nipple pain is more extreme than that caused by mastitis and external symptoms such as redness, swelling, warmth, deformation of the breast or a lump are quite evident. It is advisable that your baby take milk from the affected breast, since the abscess is compatible with breastfeeding, as long as the drainage hole is away from the nipple and the baby is not in contact with the pus. If this is not possible, you can express milk from the affected breast and only breastfeed from the healthy breast.
There are other symptoms that can cause nipple pain. Some women can develop some symptoms when consuming contraceptive pills. As you already know, birth control pills contain hormones that cause pain in the breasts. Sometimes a little detergent can get inside the bra and cause pain or irritation. Emotional disturbance and hormonal imbalance from stress can produce these symptoms. Rough games with your partner can also cause pain in the nipples. If you constantly suffer from pain in your nipples or your breasts are very sensitive, consult your trusted gynecologist. The diagnosis of your condition should be done by your doctor, in addition to providing you with the most effective treatment to treat the pain.
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Pain in the inner nipple, how is it?
It can be caused by a ductal infection, if you suddenly suffer intense and deep pain in the breast after several weeks breastfeeding your baby without pain, you may be affected by an infection in the milk ducts. Pain in the nipple may be accompanied by pain from ductal infection.
However, there is a controversy about the causes of this type of infection. Certain experts claim that it can be caused by a yeast infection (Candida albicans), although others think that the pain is due to a class of bacteria (streptococcus or staph).
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Ductal infection due to poor nipple grip
Some symptoms may indicate that the problem is caused by poor nipple grip:
- Pain is worse in chest.
- Pain occurs during feedings.
- All shots include pain.
- After one feed your nipples are compressed.
- The pain is more intense before feedings or in the morning.
- After feeding the nipples are white.
- The baby sucks his cheeks and makes a noise when he sucks the milk.
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Characteristics of a ductal infection
It does not occur before week 6 if it is related to candidiasis, the pain can be caused by a bad nipple latch if the baby does not reach six weeks. The stabbing pain in your chest, discomfort or a deep burning that worsens after taking it, may be accompanied by intense pain in the back or arm.
You do not have a general malaise or fever. Symptoms can range from induration to redness in the affected area. Your nipple can be very sensitive to the touch and you can feel some itchiness. After a feeding the nipple does not change its shape, crusts or purulent exudate on the nipple of honey color, which can be a sign of infection by germs. The nipple has no improvement, despite the proper grip. Because the baby transfers the infection from one breast to the other, pain in both nipples occurs during each feeding.
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Diagnosis and treatment of a ductal infection
It is essential to ensure that the grip and position are adequate, before treating and studying the probable ductal infection. After excluding other probable causes of nipple pain, it is possible to consider that you have candidiasis and the most advisable thing in these cases is to treat it with fluconazole (the appropriate dose will be that indicated by the doctor according to your case).
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What happens during breastfeeding? Why is there pain?
Many new mothers often complain of nipple pain, thinking that this represents a normal symptom during breastfeeding and they just have to endure it. This is a wrong thought.
It may be normal to have some tenderness or pain in the first week when the baby begins to breastfeed. When the pain persists during the feeding or almost all of it, this type of pain is considered abnormal . Little by little you can feel the pain, especially if you take painkillers after delivery. You may also be quite focused on feeding your baby and think that the pain will pass or you will quickly get used to the discomfort.
It is important that you can identify the pain and at the first sign of discomfort it is best to consult a lactation consultant. Ignoring discomfort can lead to bleeding and cracking of the nipples, as well as increasing pain.
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Common factors that cause nipple pain in breastfeeding
There is a set of factors that can increase pain in your nipples, which we specify below:
- Little baby latch on: If your baby doesn’t latch on enough nipple tissue in the first weeks of life, you may have a little soreness. When this occurs, the baby does not suck the breast tissue, it simply grabs the nipple. If you notice a rim or stripe in the middle of the nipple when the baby stops sucking, this means that it requires taking a larger portion of your areola.
- Discomfort caused by using the pump: your nipples can get hurt if you use the wrong breast pump. The breast pump cups may be smaller than your nipples. If you use the high level of the pump, that can cause pain in your nipples. Try to use it correctly.
- Candidiasis or Thrush: if the baby has yeast infection, it can transfer it to your nipples. These can look reddish, cracked, they may burn a little after the feedings, the areolas can also be affected.
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- The baby has a short frenulum: If your baby has a short frenulum or a tied tongue, this can block the proper movement of the tongue, then the baby cannot fully stick his tongue out to encompass the lower gum area. This can lead to some complications when feeding. The problem can be solved with a minor surgical intervention.
- Nipple and milk blister : As for the nipple blister, you may notice a bloody or yellow blister that causes severe pain. The poor position of the baby when breastfeeding can cause this type of blisters; Although misuse of the pump can also cause nipple blisters.
Milk blisters occur when a thin layer of skin originates over a milk duct, resulting in a blockage of the duct. As a yellow or white dot you can see the blister on the nipple and cause pain when touching the nipple.
- Vasospasm: if you feel pain after breastfeeding and you notice paleness in your nipple, returning to its normal hue immediately, it is likely that you have a spasm in the blood vessels in the area. This means that blood cannot pass through due to a nipple bruise, infection, or compression.
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Treatments for nipple pain
When there is pain in the nipple, it is rarely serious, because most of the time it is related to a common inflammation. The best treatment for this pain is to simply let it pass. You can still go for some quick fixes to relieve nipple pain.
Use the pad
This web can be found in the shell of an egg, apply the web two to three times a day on the nipples.
An excellent option is to use your own breast milk to massage the nipple, in this way the irritation heals quickly.
If you have cracks in addition to pain in the nipple, you can prepare a comfrey porridge and place it on the affected area.
Relieve nipple pain by preparing in boiled water with 2 tablespoons of chamomile for 5 minutes, after cooling the mixture with a little cotton, apply it on your nipples.
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Extract the liquid from a vitamin E capsule and apply it to the nipple for a massage.
Cloth and warm water
You can use a cloth dipped in warm water. Place it on your nipples for 8 minutes. Repeat this operation three times a day until you feel that the pain has disappeared. If you are breastfeeding, apply the towel before breastfeeding for at least ten minutes.
Heat a small portion of olive oil for one minute. Check that it is warm with your hands. Apply the olive oil to your nipples and begin to massage them in a circular motion on the tip and areola. This should be done three times a day.
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General recommendations for nipple pain
When your baby is born, both must go through an adaptation stage where learning to breastfeed is a process that is generated little by little during the development stage of your baby. As a mother, it is a bit difficult to understand the correct breastfeeding process, that is why you are concerned about good nutrition during these first days and for that they both require an adequate process of adaptation and learning. Ignorance can lead you to suffer from pain in the nipple or both, because your baby does not know how to latch on well, so it breaks the nipple due to the compression of its jaws. To calm this pain, we can advise you to change the beginning of the feeding between one breast and the other, changing your position.In addition to taking into consideration the suggestions below:
- Avoid alcohol, soaps, and some shower products that can cause your skin to dry out. It is not mandatory that you wash the nipples at each feeding.
- If you have cracked nipples, avoid applying creams that you need to remove before feeding your baby. The best option is to place your own milk on the areola and nipple after breastfeeding and let them air dry.
- Nipple shields made of silicone are not recommended, because the baby can be confused when sucking, since they act as a block for adequate stimulation in the breast.
- If the pain in the nipples persists, you should immediately consult a professional so that he can find what causes the pain: the doctor assesses the duration of the pain, when it begins and when it ends, in addition to the relationship of the pain with the baby’s feeding . He will also study your nipples for cracks and observe the position and nursing clinically. Your baby will also be examined to rule out other possible causes of the pain.
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Kathie Sand always saw the world of beauty as the terrain on which to build her professional career, a goal that was clear to her when she was only 15 years old. Her great concern to expand knowledge led her to settle in Paris where she studied hand in hand with the best beauty professionals and with the most advanced techniques for skin care.