Excruciating pain is what I remember with reoccurring milk bleb on my nipple. If you are wondering what to do when milk bleb keeps coming back, read on.
As soon as I thought that the worse was over with milk bleb while breastfeeding, it returned again. Then again, and again, and again. It came back five times in my breastfeeding journey and each time with stabbing, excruciating pain.
Milk bleb or milk blister is a common frustration for breastfeeding mama. And when you have reoccurring milk blister, it makes it so hard to breastfeed and even harder to stop breastfeeding.
Not all breastfeeding mamas get the reoccurring milk blister, but if you are one of the unfortunate ones like me, you want to keep reading this article.
If your milk bleb keeps coming back, it is a good idea to find out the reasons for recurrence and nip them in the bud. This article talks about why milk bleb keeps coming back and natural remedies to stop the recurrence.
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What is Milk Bleb or Milk Blister?
Milk bleb or milk blister is a blocked nipple pore. It occurs when a tiny skin outgrows a milk duct opening and blocks the breastmilk under the skin. The milk bleb usually appears as a small white spot on a nipple.
The milk bleb can also appear due to a clogged milk duct- preventing the flow of breast milk and causing build-up in the milk duct. The obstruction in a milk duct could be due to dried-up breastmilk or a fattier string of solidified breastmilk.
The milk bleb is usually painful for a few days and then disappears by the pressure of nursing or manually expressing breastmilk in a couple of days.
Milk bleb or Milk blister can also appear with recurrent clogged milk duct or recurrent mastitis.
The other type of milk blister is caused by friction from the baby’s improper latch or ill-fitted nipple shield or pump. This kind of blister appears as broken skin, and it has nothing to do with a blocked milk duct opening.
Milk Bleb Vs. Clogged Milk Duct
A clogged milk duct, also called plugged milk duct, blocks and prevents the flow of breastmilk, causing a build-up in the breast’s milk duct.
A clogged milk duct appears as a tender lump on your breast. The affected area might feel warm, swollen, and red.
And when the milk flow blocks at the tip of the nipple is referred to as a milk bleb or milk blister or nipple bleb.
The difference between milk bleb and clogged milk duct is that milk bleb is a superficial plug and can be easily treated, while clogs are dipper within the breast and harder to deal with.
The milk bleb could lead to clogged milk ducts and vice versa if not treated properly.
What causes Milk Blebs to Come Back?
Anything that obstructs the flow of milk through your breast causes a milk bleb.
If your baby is not latching onto your breast correctly, he may not be able to empty your breasts fully. This can cause milk too to build up to block your nipple ducts.
A baby tongue tie or lip tie can also contribute to milk bleb formation.
Breast engorgement occurs when your body is producing more milk than your baby is actually consuming. It can build up in your breast and clog your milk duct. It usually occurs during the initial phase of breastfeeding when your milk supply is not regulated.
I had five recurrent milk blebs during the first two months of breastfeeding, possibly because of breast engorgement or milk oversupply. However, once milk supply was regulated, I did not see milk blebs that often.
If you have oversupply of milk than your baby can drain, it can get backed up and clog your nipple pore.
Ill fitted Breast pump shield
Milk bleb can return if you use a breast pump shield that is not fitted correctly to your breast size. Using a breast pump flange that fits well to your breast size can prevent the milk blister recurrence and help you express more milk.
Tight-fitting Bras or Underwire Bras
Tight-fitting bras or clothes can irritate your nipple and contribute to milk bleb formation. Also, anything that puts pressure on your breast can lead to milk bleb or clogged milk duct. So, avoid sleeping on your tummy when you are breastfeeding or tight sleepwear.
Related Post: How to wear nursing pad without a Bra?
According to Kellymom, if you or your baby have thrush, it can cause a milk blister. Thrush can appear as a small white spot on your nipple or a large white spot blocking one or more milk ducts. So, if you or your baby has thrush, make sure to treat them properly (with good hygiene practice) because thrush can come back easily.
Previous Breast Injuries
According to Dr. Jack Newman, recurrent milk bleb occurs in an area of previous damage where the milk is not flowing. For example, if your breasts have been injured, bumped, handled roughly, or you have undergone breast surgery, it can cause scarring or pressure on milk ducts. In this case, a milk blister will appear on the same area of the nipple.
10 Things to do When Milk Bleb Keeps Coming Back
The treatment for recurring milk bleb is no different than clearing a clogged milk duct. So let’s look at the things you can do when milk bleb keeps coming back.
1. Nurse your Baby
The pressure of baby suckling may open the milk bleb. Position your baby in a way that his chin is near the blocked ducts. This position will help drain the blocked area of the breast first.
2. Apply Moist Heat
Apply the warm wet washcloth to the affected area for 10 minutes before nursing. It helps soften the skin and open the blister when you are nursing.
3. Warm shower
Stand under a warm shower and gently wipe the affected area with a washcloth to clear the skin.
4. Use your Finger
If your milk bleb is protruding, try gently pulling on it with your clean finger. Or loosen an edge of the blister by gently scraping it with your fingernail.
5. Soak breasts
Soak breasts in 1 cup of hot water mixed with 2 teaspoons of Epsom salt (do not burn yourself). Submerge your breast for about 10 minutes before feeding. You can massage the affected area towards the nipple while it is soaking. Don’t forget to wash your breast with water before feeding, as you don’t want to feed your baby with salty breasts.
Epson salt help open the blocked milk duct and help in healing. Next, sock your nipple 3 to 4 times a day until the duct becomes unblocked. Then gently massage the nipple with a wet washcloth to release the blister.
Once the blister is open, you can apply nipple cream or antibacterial ointment to heal the opening of the milk ducts. However, it may take several days to heal the open milk duct completely.
6. Epsom salt and Haakaa Hack
Another way you can soak your breast with Epsom salt is even more effective!
Haakaa manual breast pump is a huge help in getting rid of the clogged milk duct and saving you from sharp shooting pain! It can also work for removing recurring milk bleb.
So, here I how to use Epsom Salt and Haakaa Hack
- Fill your Haakaa manual breast pump with warm water to the top
- Add a tablespoon of Epsom salt and mix it
- Attach the Haakaa pump to your affected breast as you would normally do
- Let the Haakaa latched to your breast for 10 – 15 mins
- The suction of Haakaa along with Epsom salt will unclog the milk duct
- Repeat this process 2-3 times a day until it unclogged the milk duct
- Haakaa Epsom salt clogged duct hack is very effective in relieving a sharp shooting pain instantly.
7. Change breastfeeding position
Adjusting you and your baby into new breastfeeding positions (from cradle to football) can relieve pressure from the affected area. It also helps stimulate all milk ducts equally.
Depending on where the clogged duct is, position your baby so that his nose and chin are pointed towards the blocked duct.
8. On all four
Dangle nursing or nursing on all fours is very effective in easing a clogged milk duct. Next, lay the baby on their back on the floor and get on your two hands and your knees above the baby. This position uses gravity to help dislodge the blocked duct.
If you are doing some or all of the above things and still have recurring milk blebs, consider adding the following treatment to your routine.
9. Take Lecithin Supplements
Talk to your health care professional about the Lecithin supplement(Sunflower lecithin). Lecithin is a healthy nutritional supplement that seems to help some mothers prevent blocked milk ducts and is safe to take while you’re breastfeeding. The Canadian Breastfeeding Foundation recommends 1,200 mg of lecithin (4 times a day) to mothers who experience recurrent blocked milk ducts as a preventative measure.
1o. Grapefruit Seed Extract (GSE)
The grapefruit seed extract is used for the treatment of nipple thrush. It can also be used to help heal milk blebs that keep coming back.
Mix few drops of GSE into olive oil or another carrier oil and gently massage your breast, areola, and nipple.
How to Prevent Recurring Milk Bleb?
Milk blebs are painful, and dealing with them multiple times during your breastfeeding journey is even more painful. However, most preventive strategies from experts are the same as the treatment, so incorporate them into your routine to stay away from it.
- Breastfeed regularly, and do not let yourself engorged.
- Keep pressure off of your breast. Avoid tight, underwire bra.
- Change nursing position to allow baby to drain milk from all areas equally.
- Avoid saturated fat in your diet.
- Take Lecithin supplement
- Drink lots of fluids – Dehydration can lead to a decrease in your milk supply and raise your chances of developing clogged milk ducts and milk blebs. If you are not a big fan of water, that’s okay. Instead, try beverages that will help you keep hydrated and increase your milk supply.
- Clean your nipples – After each nursing session, wipe your nipple gently with a wet washcloth to help prevent clogged nipple pores.
- Pump at Night for missed feeding – If your baby has started sleeping through the night, or skipped the nursing session, pump your breast to relieve pressure. The engorged breast can lead to clogged milk ducts or milk blebs.
When to see a Doctor for a Recurring Milk Bleb?
Milk bleb usually does not require medical attention and can be removed with one or a combination of the above tips. However, there are certain circumstances when it is better to take some advice from a lactation consultant or medical doctor.
If your milk bleb is kept coming back at the same spot and the pain is unbearable, you might want to have it removed by your doctor. Your doctor will use a sterile needle to open the blister and clear the skin from the milk bleb.
You can pop the milk bleb with a sterile needle on your own at home, but to prevent the risk of infection, it is best to have it done by a medical doctor or lactation consultant.
Milk Bleb Keeps Coming Back – Conclusion
It is annoying when milk bleb keeps coming back during your breastfeeding journey. And the excruciating pain from the recurring milk bleb may make this journey overwhelming and frustrating but remember that the more you feed your baby more chances you have to clear the milk blebs.
Each time milk bleb came back when I was breastfeeding, Epsom salt and Hakka hack worked to clear the milk bleb. Later I started taking lecithin supplements as a preventive measure upon advice from a lactation consultant.
Managing pain due to milk bleb is equally essential to keep up with your breastfeeding journey. Warm compresses or hot showers can help relieve stabbing pain from a milk bleb. However, do not overdo warm compresses or hot showers (directly on your breast) as it can cause overstimulation and engorgement.
Finally, if you think that milk blebs keep coming back and you can’t get rid of it, it is best to get advice from a health care professional or lactation consultant.
I hope you find this article helpful, and one or a combination of listed natural remedies helps you avoid recurring milk bleb.
medies. So, hang in there mama!!
How About You?
Do you have any tips for the treatment of milk blebs that keep coming back? Leave your comment below.
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Strong GD. Provider management and support for breastfeeding pain. J Obstet Gynecol Neonatal Nurs. 2011 Nov-Dec;40(6):753-64. doi: 10.1111/j.1552-6909.2011.01303.x. PMID: 22273451.
Witt AM, Bolman M, Kredit S, Vanic A. Therapeutic Breast Massage in Lactation for the Management of Engorgement, Plugged Ducts, and Mastitis. J Hum Lact. 2016 Feb;32(1):123-31. doi: 10.1177/0890334415619439. Epub 2015 Dec 7. PMID: 26644422.
Betts RC, Johnson HM, Eglash A, Mitchell KB. It’s Not Yeast: Retrospective Cohort Study of Lactating Women with Persistent Nipple and Breast Pain. Breastfeed Med. 2021 Apr;16(4):318-324. doi: 10.1089/bfm.2020.0160. Epub 2020 Dec 10. PMID: 33305975.
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