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 but is NOT PAINFUL.  If you have a non-painful white spot, leave it alone. Do nothing. You don’t need to read this blog. Just ignore it. It will go away or it will start to hurt.

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.

Managing a milk blister:

1. Get rid of the skin to release the pressure

2. Prevent it from coming back

3. Figure out what may be causing it

1. Get rid of the skin to release the pressure

What do you do when you have a blister? You pop it.  Well, some people say you shouldn’t pop blisters, but in this case, you do need to pop it and get rid of 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. Lovely, huh?

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: After you have soaked with a cotton ball and nursed/pumped, take a dry washcloth and rub the nipple.  You are try to exfoliate the nipple to get some excess skin off.

Use the olive oil/nurse/washcloth technique a few times.  Some women will try to leave the olive oil on between feeds for a few hours to really soften the nipple tissue. For women with persistent blisters, we have had success with women wearing olive oil in their Lilypadz continuously until the blisters clear.

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 women 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, your nipple is clean, the needle is clean, and you apply Neosporin afterwards.

2. 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.

3. Figure out what may be causing it

Milk blisters can be really tricky.The blister comes from the repeated friction on the nipple (kind of like a blister on your foot). In the early weeks of breastfeeding, milk blisters can be caused by a poor latch.  Sometimes they emerge after starting pumping if the flange is the wrong size or from pumping very frequently. When milk blisters appear months later after not having any issues, it can sometimes be from “lazy latching.”  Lazy latching comes from older babies that start to latch properly, but then let the nipple start to slip out of their mouth and rub their tongue along the nipple.

Not sure what is causing yours?  Let a really good IBCLC help you figure it out.