Milk Blister

If you have a sudden sharp needle-like pain in one nipple, take a look at it and see if you can see a spot just like this on the face of your nipple. This is what is called a milk blister or “bleb.”  Basically, it is a thin layer of skin blocking a milk duct. The milk backs up behind the layer of skin and it HURTS! It is possible to have a white spot on your nipple that looks like this without any pain at all.  If you have a non-painful white spot, leave it alone.

Sometimes, milk blisters are coupled with plugged ducts because they are blocking the milk from getting out of one or more milk ducts causing a back-up. Here’s what to do about a milk blister: 

  • Get rid of the skin to release the pressure. What do you do when you have a blister? You relieve the pressure behind the skin. You don’t want a callous on your nipple. If your milk blister is coupled with a plugged duct, you may see a spray of milk come out once the blister is broken.  You may also be able to pull out a string of sticky milk.
    • Try this first:
      • Soak a cotton ball in warm olive oil, then apply to the milk blister for about 5 minutes to soften the tissue. 
      • Breastfeed or pump right after you remove the cotton ball (Deep breaths! I know it hurts!) 
      • Once you are done nursing or pumping, check to see if the blister is gone.
    • If not…Try this next:
      • Fill a Haakaa, shot glass or similar cup with warm saline solution. Engage suction with the Haakaa, or press the shot glass into your breast tissue to engage vacuum and create a moderate pull on your nipple tissue, submerged in the saline.
    • After you have soaked with a cotton ball and nursed/pumped, take a dry washcloth and rub the nipple. You are trying to exfoliate the nipple to get some excess skin off. Use the olive oil/nurse/washcloth technique a few times.
    • If that doesn’t work, then, try this:
      • Wash your hands well. After softening tissue with olive oil, then nursing/pumping, use a clean fingernail to carefully pick/scrape the skin off the nipple. 
      • If you are able to remove some skin, apply a small drop of Neosporin to the site of the blister. 
      • Wipe off any excess Neosporin before nursing again.
    • Some are brave enough to pierce the blister with a sterilized needle. But, I can’t really recommend that. So, you know, if you do it, make sure your hands are clean, the needle is clean and you apply Neosporin afterwards.
  • Prevent it from coming back.
    • Once you clear off a milk blister, it has an annoying habit of returning. To avoid this, make it a habit to gently exfoliate your nipples with a rough washcloth in the shower everyday. Some find a few weeks of treatment with soy or sunflower lecithin is helpful to break the cycle of blisters.
  • Figure out what may be causing it.
    • Sometimes, but not always, there is a root cause of the milk blister.  This is a good time to check in and make sure you’re not missing anything that could help prevent the blister from coming back.