- Eczema (atopic dermatitis)
- Thrush (oral yeast infection)
- An allergic reaction (contact dermatitis)
- Local irritation
Allergic reactions may occur from either food particles in a nursing infant's mouth or from lotions or creams applied to the nipple area.
Men and non-breast-feeding women who have nipple dermatitis also often have a history of eczema or easily irritated skin. Asymmetric breast size may lead to irritation from clothing or friction from exercise.
The rare breast cancer, Paget's disease, may occur in men or women and is usually seen in older people (over 50).
- Wash only with water, and avoid soap to the area.
- Use a mild detergent for laundry, and double rinse to remove any irritating soap residue.
- Acetaminophen or ibuprofen may be used for pain.
- Apply .5% hydrocortisone (available over the counter) twice daily to the irritated area, and protect the area from friction from clothing.
- If the area feels uncomfortable, moisten with tap water and apply petroleum jelly in a thin layer. Stop use of any other creams or lotions being used on the skin area.
- Cleanse the area after nursing with a soft warm-water-moistened cloth and then apply either a purified lanolin cream or petroleum jelly. Don't wash this off before nursing again.
- Help from a breast-feeding counselor should be sought if there are problems with the baby positioning or latching on to the breast properly.
- The use of warmed tea bags on the nipples
- Drying the breast with a hairdryer
- Topical agents such as Bag Balm®
- The use of nipple shields
Breast-feeding mothers should seek help if the baby has signs of thrush, such as white patches of the mouth or tongue.
- If there is no evidence of infection, a stronger topical corticosteroid cream may be advised for a few days.
- If there are signs of a yeast infection, a topical antifungal cream will be prescribed (and the baby will also be treated if breast-feeding).
- Bacterial infection will be treated with topical or oral antibiotics.
- If the doctor is suspicious of Paget's disease, a skin biopsy may be recommended.