If you’re a breastfeeding mother, chances are, you’ll probably experience a milk bleb at least once during your breastfeeding journey. Especially if you find yourself having breastfeeding or pumping difficulties. Although milk blebs are small, they can be quite painful for some mothers. The good news is that it’s quite easily treatable and even preventable.
What is a milk bleb
A milk bleb, also known as a milk blister or a blocked nipple pore, is a small clear, white or yellow dot that appears on the nipples and areolas. They look almost very small pimple like. They are caused by skin growing over a nipple or areola pore, or a small amount of hardened milk, thus blocking the opening. It’s important to treat the milk bleb promptly, as the blockage can potentially lead to more serious issues such as blocked milk ducts and mastitis.
Signs of a milk bleb
– A small clear, white or yellow dot on the nipple or areola.
– Painful nipples or overall pain during breastfeeding or pumping.
Milk bleb causes
– Poor latch
When a baby has a poor latch, it will cause excessive pressure on the nipple which can in turn, cause milk blebs.
Just like with a poor latch, engorgement can lead to excessive pressure on the milk ducts which can lead to milk blebs.
– Excessive pressure
Whether you wear tight and restrictive bras or clothing, make use of ill-fitting products such as silverette nursing cups and nipple shields or use ill-fitting pump equipment, the excessive pressure can lead to milk blebs.
– Skin conditions
Certain skin conditions such as eczema and dermatitis, may also affect nipple and areola pores and how the skin behaves around it, potentially causing milk blebs.
Treatment for milk blebs
– Latch correction
If the milk blebs are caused by a poor latch, simply correcting the latch and whatever is causing the poor latch will help resolve the milk blebs and reduce the risk of recurrence.
– Better fitting equipment
If you’re using equipment such as silverette nursing cups, nipple shields or you’re pumping, ensure that you have the correct fit to reduce any and all excessive pressure on the nipple and breast.
– Warm moist compress
Doing a warm moist compress before nursing sessions may help soften and loosen the overgrown skin. A very warm and wet cloth applied to the nipple will be sufficient.
– Epsom salt soaks
Soaking the affected area in a glass of Epsom salts may help open the nipple pore. You can do an Epsom salt soak by mixing 1 or 2 teaspoons of Epsom salts with 1 cup of hot water to dissolve the Epsom salts and then leave it to cool down slightly. Once slightly and appropriately cooled, you can soak the affected area. Do this multiple times a day before breastfeeding your baby.
You can very gently exfoliate the affected area with a warm wet cloth by gently rubbing the affected area. This may help remove the excess skin, opening the pore.
– Olive or coconut oil
Soaking a cotton ball in olive or coconut oil and then applying it to the affected area may also help open and heal the milk bleb.
If none of the other methods are working, or you’re struggling with recurring milk blebs, you may have to consult with a medical professional to open the blockage with a sterile needle. It’s important to only let a medical professional do this for you in order to avoid any damage or infection.
– Cold compress
If the milk bleb causes you a lot of pain or discomfort, a cold compress can be done between feedings to alleviate the discomfort. You can use an ice cold or frozen cloth for the cold compress. This is especially helpful if you struggle with engorgement as well.
If the pain or discomfort feels unmanageable for you, you can take medications approved by your medical provider such as Ibuprofen and Paracetamol to help with the pain and inflammation caused by the nipple bleb.
If at any time you’re experiencing fever, severe pain, puss or swelling, you should contact your medical provider immediately.
Sometimes thrush can be mistaken for a milk bleb, as thrush can also present as a white, or multiple white dots on the nipples. It’s important to ensure that you or your baby aren’t presenting with any other thrush symptoms. If you do have more than 1 symptom consistent with thrush, seek out the correct diagnosis and treatment from your medical provider.
You can consult an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) at any time to assess your situation and provide you with a treatment plan that best suits you and your baby, especially if you’re experiencing other symptoms or other breastfeeding difficulties.