11 Tips for Breastfeeding With a Friction Blister on Your Breast

Woman breastfeeding baby in football position or clutch hold.
Breastfeeding in a different nursing position can help take the pressure off of the blister. Ruth Jenkinson/Getty Images

Breastfeeding With a Blister on Your Breast

You can get a blister (or blisters) on your areola, nipples, or on the surrounding skin of your breast. Blisters develop for different reasons. They can be painful, and they can interfere with breastfeeding. Certain types of skin blisters are not too much of an issue, but others can be dangerous. If you develop a breast or nipple blister, be sure you know which type of blister you have before you breastfeed your baby.

If you have blisters on your breast from a herpes outbreak, or contact with poison ivy, oak, or sumac, you should not breastfeed your child. However, if you develop a breastfeeding blister, or friction blister, from the rubbing of your baby's mouth against the skin on your breast, it may be painful, but it's safe to continue to breastfeed. Here are 11 tips for breastfeeding with a friction blister.

#1. Don't Try to Pop the Blister

Leave it be and it will heal on its own. If you try to pop a blister or break it open, it could take longer to heal or make the situation worse. 

#2. Check Your Baby's Latch 

Make sure your baby is latching on to your breast correctly. If you have a blister because of a poor latch, and you don't fix it, the blister may not heal well, and it could keep coming back.

#3. Start Breastfeeding on the Breast Without the Blister

If the blister is painful, breastfeed on the breast without the blister first.

Your baby's suck is stronger at the beginning of a feeding. After nursing for a while on the unaffected side, your child may have a less vigorous suck when you switch over to the breast with the blister.

#4. Rotate Your Breastfeeding Positions

Each time you breastfeed, use a different nursing position.

When you change positions, your baby's mouth will be in a different place on your breast so one area won't be getting all the pressure and friction. Switching positions can also help to put less pressure on the site of the blister, so it may be less painful for you to breastfeed.

#5. Use a Safe Pain Medication if You Need It

Talk to your doctor about taking Motrin (Ibuprofen) or Tylenol (Acetaminophen) an hour before nursing to help with the pain.

#6. Watch for Signs of Infection

If the blister is causing you too much pain, or if it looks infected, call your doctor.

#7. Pump if You Can't Breastfeed

If you have to temporarily stop breastfeeding to let your breast(s) heal, be sure to pump your breast milk. Pumping will allow you to continue to provide breast milk for your baby, and it will also help you to keep up your milk supply.

#8. Use Your Pump Correctly

If you're pumping, make sure the breast flanges (breast shields) fit you properly and don't set the pump's suction level too high. The incorrect use of a breast pump can cause blisters and damage to your breast tissue.

It can also further irritate already blistered or painful breasts.

#9. Pay Attention to Your Bra

Wear a clean, dry nursing bra that is supportive and fits you well. A bra that's too tight can put too much pressure on your breast tissue. A bra that's too big can rub against your breasts causing more friction. 

#10. Change Your Breast Pads Often

If you wear nursing pads, change them whenever they become soiled or wet. Wet nursing pads provide the perfect environment for yeast and bacteria to grow. If you already have a blister or skin breakdown on your breasts, bacteria can enter your skin and cause an infection.

#11. Call Your Doctor if the Blister Doesn't Go Away

Once you figure out where the friction that's causing your blister is coming from and eliminate it, the blister should heal on its own within a week. If the friction continues, the blister can last much longer or become worse. Call your doctor if you have a blister that does not heal after one week.   

 

Sources:

Cadwell, Karin, Turner-Maffei, Cynthia, O'Connor, Barbara, Cadwell Blair, Anna, Arnold, Lois D.W., and Blair Elyse M. Maternal and Infant Assessment for Breastfeeding and Human Lactation A Guide for the Practitioner Second Edition. Jones and Bartlett Publishers. 2006.

Lawrence, Ruth A., MD, Lawrence, Robert M., MD. Breastfeeding A Guide For The Medical Profession Seventh Edition.  Mosby. 2011.

Riordan, J., and Wambach, K. Breastfeeding and Human Lactation Fourth Edition. Jones and Bartlett Learning. 2014.

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