If you are breastfeeding, nipple pain is unfortunately a common occurrence, especially in the beginning. Some women will feel a sharp pain in the nipple when the baby first latches on. If the baby latches correctly, then this pain will disappear after a few seconds. If your baby is not latching on properly, you may feel pain throughout an entire feed and beyond. The pain may be accompanied by cracked and bleeding nipples. It is important to differentiate this regular nipple pain from less benign causes, such as mastitis.
Individuals may experience and describe their nipple pain differently, with symptoms that include the following:
If your nipple pain is accompanied by flaking, crusting, or blistering skin in the area around your nipple, called the areola, you may have dermatitis.
Dermatitis is a skin condition in which your immune cells create a localized inflammatory reaction. There are several different types of dermatitis. Contact dermatitis is caused by a reaction to an irritant that your nipples come in contact with, such as a detergent or soap. Atopic dermatitis (known as eczema) is a chronic, genetic condition, often associated with allergies and asthma. Eczema causes patchy areas of dry, flaky, and itchy skin, and is rarely confined to just the nipples alone..
Sometimes diagnosing the cause of nipple pain can be as easy as realizing that your bra or shirt is ill-fitting or that your baby is going through a growth spurt and has had a marathon breastfeeding session.
But, if you have considered the possibilities and the pain is not getting better, you should consult with your Lactation Counselor at Balanced Breastfeeding Solutions. To diagnose your nipple pain, your doctor will likely ask questions to help determine what triggers or worsens the pain. Balanced Breastfeeding Solutions will examine your breasts and nipples, and, if pregnancy is suspected, will do a blood or urine test for confirmation.
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