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Sore Nipples

Sore nipples and breasts are most common for women, while men can get that too. Breastfeeding, pregnancy and hormonal fluctuations commonly result in breast soreness and pain in the nipples. You may also notice itchiness and dry skin along with the soreness.

This guide will help you understand the cause of your sore nipples and help you understand how to prevent and treat your sore nipples easily right at home.

Sore nipples and breastfeeding

Sensitive nipples when breastfeeding is perfectly natural. There are many reasons why you may experience sensitive painful nipples, or swollen nipples while you are breastfeeding. The most likely reasons why you are experiencing sore and/or swollen nipples when breastfeeding include:

  • Improper latch on
  • Not using the right breastfeeding technique – This may cause your infant is suckling too hard.
  • Your baby has tongue-tie
  • Your infant may be sick or teething and looking to soothe themselves through suckling. If you notice they seem to be biting your nipples while they feed, this is often a sign that they are teething and trying to seek relief by using a counter-measure like biting or chewing.

How you care for your nipples while you breastfeed may also play a part. Overly sensitive nipples may dry out easily if you wash them with soap. Soaps and shampoos can strip your skin and nipples of the natural oils that work to keep your skin lubricated.

Only use your own breastmilk or baby-friendly Multi-Mam Balsam Protect or Multi-Mam Compresses to soothe your nipples. These are designed to help soothe dry skin and increase the protective barrier around your nipples so that your body can heal the damage more effectively.

Yeast infection/thrush while breastfeeding

Yeast infections or thrush occur when Candida albicans, a fungus, grows in warm, damp areas of the body. This can even include your nipples. Nipple yeast infection are more common while breastfeeding.

If you have thrush, nipple pain is common, as well as soreness. Some of the other symptoms of thrush in the nipple include:

  •  Burning
  •  Itching
  • Tenderness
  • Pain behind nipple
  • Shiny or inflamed skin
  • Dry flaky skin
  • Cracked nipples 

Prevent yeast infections in your nipples by keeping your nipples clean and dry. This typically means wearing looser clothes or, if you are wearing tight clothes or bras, changing them out regularly.

Sore nipples and pregnancy

Breasts growing during pregnancy is natural and a normal part of lactation. Lactation, which is the process your body goes through to develop breastmilk, starts around the 16th week of pregnancy. During this time, your breasts will likely grow. They will continue to grow or feel full a few days after you give birth as your breasts start producing milk.

If you are pregnant, then don’t worry about growing pains, enlarged nipples, or itchy sensitive nipples. Just as hormonal changes can affect your breasts through your menstrual cycle, they will also impact your breasts and nipples during pregnancy. This is due to the higher levels of progesterone and oestrogen.

Use warm compresses to help ease the soreness if it becomes a problem for you.

woman hands self breast examination hand checking her breast cancer sign

Sore nipples and hormonal changes

Hormonal changes can be the nipple pain reason, especially if you experience brief bouts of nipple pain around the same time in your cycle. You may, for example, notice nipple pain during ovulation. You may notice your breasts feel bigger and that you have hard painful nipples. If hormonal fluctuations are the reason behind your hard painful nipples, then it will be because of an increase in oestrogen and progesterone.

Menstrual cycles are not the only reason for sensitive nipples. You may also notice that your nipples are sore and swollen in these instances:

  • Menopause – Sensitive nipples menopause is a common symptom.
  • Medication – Certain medications can impact your hormones and cause sore nipples.
  • Pregnancy – Your body will increase progesterone and oestrogen during pregnancy, which can result in sensitive painful nipples.
  • Breastfeeding – improper breastfeeding positions can cause sore nipples. If your baby is ill or teething, this may result in more aggressive feedings and sore nipples.

Everyday causes of sore nipples

There are many reasons why you may be experiencing sore nipples. Most reasons for a sore breast or nipples are mundane and nothing to worry about. Most sensitive nipples causes can either be easily prevented or treated quickly.

Sore sensitive nipples usually go away on their own, can easily be prevented, or are quickly treated. If your nipples continue to be sore and you do not know or understand why get in touch with your GP or medical professional.


One of the biggest reasons why you may be experiencing stinging nipple pain is due to chafing. Chafing can occur in many situations. If you wear a scratchy or synthetic material, this may be abrasive and cause irritation in your nipples. Chafing can result in irritation and without the proper prevention, can result in very sore nipples. Prevent the source of your chafing and use nipple cream to soothe and protect your nipples while they heal.

Skin allergy

Minor skin allergies, also known as contact dermatitis, can affect the nipples. Nipples also tend to be more sensitive than other areas of the body, making them more susceptible than other areas of your body. If you have recently changed detergents or if your nipples have come into contact with a new material and are itchy, dry, or sore, try to determine the allergen, remove it from your routine, and avoid it in the future.


Around 2.4% of the population has eczema. While eczema typically affects the hands and arms, it can occur anywhere on the body, including your nipples. While eczema is primarily itchy, it can also present as sore nipples. A topical cream can help reduce irritation.

Cold or dry weather

Cold temperatures and dry weather can dry out your skin. If dry skin isn’t treated and cared for, it can flake and even crack. Cracked skin can result in soreness, irritation, and other issues. Dry skin can affect any part of the body, including the nipples. Moisturising and working to protect your skin barrier in winter or in dry air can help prevent dryness and sore nipples.

Sore Nipples FAQ

How can I treat my sore nipples?

There are many ways to treat sore nipples. Protecting the skin barrier with nipple balm like Multi-Mam Balsam Protect or a compress like Multi-Mam Compresses are both great solutions to soothe sore nipples. Wear proper clothes that don’t chafe or irritate your skin and avoid irritating your nipples further until they can heal.

Is it normal to get sore nipples?

Everyone can experience sore nipples at one point in time. If you have particularly sensitive nipples, you may experience nipple soreness more often.

Will moisturising prevent sore nipples?

Moisturising can help prevent damage due to cold weather, dry weather, and can minimise chafing.

Why do my nipples feel dry after a shower?

Soap and shampoo can strip your skin of its natural oils. If you have sensitive nipples or are breastfeeding, this can dry out your nipples. Dry nipples can crack and feel sore. Wash your nipples only with water to help protect your nipples with the natural oils your body produces.

How can I reduce dryness in my nipples?

If your nipples are dry, you will want to use Multi-Mam Balsam Protect to soothe and protect your dry nipples, a balm based on oil that keeps the skin soft. Other solutions are lanolin ointment or a colloidal oatmeal treatment.

How can I prevent nipple chafing?

You can prevent chafing on your nipples by using a balm like Multi-Mam Balsam Protect. You can also use loose and comfortable clothes to reduce friction.

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