EXCRUCIATING! It is the only word I can think of to describe a milk blister.
If you’ve never had one, consider yourself very lucky. After some exceptionally painful nursing sessions this week I did some research and learned I was suffering from a milk blister.
Although I’ve nursed 2 children before this hasn’t happened to me until now with baby no. 3! I guess it just goes to show that each pregnancy and nursing experience is so different.
What is a milk blister?
A milk blister (aka “milk bleb”) is a blocked nipple duct and is extremely painful. It almost always looks like a small white pimple (example).
There are several reasons why someone might get a milk blister including thrush, a poor latch, oversupply, etc. You want to get to the main root of the problem to keep them from reoccurring but in the mean time here are some remedies that have worked for me so far.
- Epsom salt & warm water – A mixture of warm water and epsom salt softens the nipple and helps to open the milk duct. It also helps to heal the blister once it’s popped. Mix 2 teaspoons epsom salt with 1 cup water and soak the nipple for a few minutes. (it’s easiest to put the mixture in a dixie cup and soak that way!)
- Warm compress – Applying a warm compress for 5-10 minutes prior to nursing helps to get the milk flowing and softens the nipple. I’ve been doing the epsom salt/water combo soak immediately before showering, followed by the warm compress with a washcloth in the shower, then immediately nursing or pumping right after.
- After nursing/pumping apply olive oil or ointment -I’ve been using a special ointment that I had left over from delivery but soaking a cotton ball in olive oil will also do the trick. Just place the cotton ball in your bra and separate the cotton ball from your bra with a nursing pad.
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- Vinegar – Vinegar can help break down calcium that could be keeping the blister clogged. Soak a cotton ball with the vinegar and keep it in your bra with a nursing pad. Alternate between vinegar and olive oil.
- Happy Ducts Herbal Supplement – I haven’t tried this yet so I can’t vouch for it’s effectiveness. However, I can tell you that I’ve already ordered it and I’m anxious for it to arrive. I’ll update this post once I’ve used it. The claim is that it keeps your lymph system functioning properly which in turn keeps plugged ducts from happening. I’d much rather prevent them than have to fix them. *Update* I got it in the mail, started taking it immediately and within 24 hours my blister was GONE!
- Pierce the blister – This is probably the last option you want to try but if all else fails, you can always pierce it. Admittedly I’ve done this on a few occasions because I was so desperate for relief! It’s obviously risky because there’s always chance for infection. If you do decide you need to try it be sure to sterilize the needle first and make sure your hands are clean. Rather than piercing straight through the blister try to just slightly touch it and lift the skin up and away from you.
Just remember when dealing with a milk blister:
- You want to find the cause, not just the solution
- A proper latch can help to drain the milk properly, alternating nursing positions frequently
- Always wash hands before any at-home treatment
- If you have to pierce the blister, make sure the needle is sterilized
I hope you found these tips helpful! If you have any other remedies for a milk blister, be sure to drop a comment and let me know!