Scabs on Nipples, When Breastfeeding, Causes and How to Heal

HomeSkinScabs on Nipples, When Breastfeeding, Causes and How to Heal

Scabs on nipples are dry, rough protective crust that forms over a cut or a wound during healing. If you have had them before, you know that scabs are not attractive, especially for breastfeeding mothers. Here is an insight into some of the possible causes and how to heal and get rid of these bumps.

On nipples, a common cause of scabs is injury and bruises. When blood vessels around the nipples are damaged, your skin will initiate a protective mechanism to try and stop the bleeding. A series of biological reactions control this mechanism. The process is known as clotting, what happens is that a clot forms on the around the injured blood vessel to stop the bleeding.

After a blood clot, you are likely to notice a scab; what this means is that the healing process has just begun. Scabs can appear on any part of the body. In some people, the nipples can keep scabbing over and over or, in some cases, come off too early. They may also fail to heal or for scars for some people.

Scabbed nipples in males

Just as in females, males too are at the risk of having their nipples scabbed. The scabbed nipple can also be described as a fissure of the nipple or as a jogger nipple. This describes conditions that can be caused by friction that results from soreness, dryness, or irritation to or bleeding of both or one of males or a female nipple.

A scabbed nipple in women is often as a result of breastfeeding; in males, it could be as a result of or other physical exercises. The condition is also common in those who do not wear rash guards.

Friction from the repeated rubbing of clothing’s against the nipple is the most common cause of scrubbing. This is common in male long distances runners. This is because they are exposed to friction for long.

Regardless of what is causing the friction that results in your nipples getting scabbed, there are some simple ways you this from happening in the first place, some of the things you will need to do include:

  • Avoid wearing loose-fitting T-shirts during exercises
  • Instead of a cotton shirt, you can try wearing those made from synthetic
  • Before exercising, you will need to protect your nipple by applying a waterproof adhesive bandage or a surgical tape over each nipple
  • The other way to protect the nipple is wearing a sports bra or a compression vest
  • Before excessing, apply an anti-chaffing balm or petroleum jelly on your nipples.

Dry, cracked nipples

Painful dry, cracked, or bleeding is not uncommon, especially when breastfeeding. These can be warning signs that things are not okay. In case of any such symptoms, you are advised to consult your doctor as soon as possible. It is essential to identify and solve the underlying problem as soon as possible.

In women, the main cause of dry cracked and bleeding nipples is often as a result of an improper latch. An incorrect latch can also cause severe nipple pain.  Once you correct your nursing technique, it can go a long way toward letting cracked nipples heal. Slightly changes in the nursing position can be all you need to prevent the cracking.

Another common cause of nipple injury is misusing a breast pump. An example is turning the suction level up too high. Using the wrong size of the pump can also have this kind of side effect.

Dry, cracked nipples can also be as a result of an infection picked from your baby. If, for instance, your baby has a yeast infection in the mouth, he or she may pass the infection to you. This can cause your nipple to become painful, itchy, change in color, or cause shooting pain in the breast when breastfeeding.

Dry skin can also be the underlying cause of cracking and bleeding. This can be a result of skin conditions such as eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis. This condition can be shown by symptoms such as scaly red patches on the skin that are often itchy and painful.

What causes scabs on nipples?

Though painful, annoying, and irritating to have, scabs on nipples are common and harmless. What causes scabs on nipples, you might wonder! Different skin conditions might lead to the formation of scabs on nipples.

What causes scabs on nipples?
scab on nipple

Wound healing reconstruction is the major cause of scabs on the skin. The process of wound healing is divided into four steps, blood clotting inflammation, tissue growth, and tissue remodeling.  Some consider blood clotting to be part of the inflammation stage instead of a separate stage.

Other causes of scabs on nipples might include:

1. Eczema

Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is a medical condition in which patches of the skin become rough and inflamed. The condition may also result in fluid-filled blisters that might result in itching and bleeding. Continued bleeding around the nipple is what might lead to the formation of scabs on nipples.

Eczema might result from a reaction to irritation, but most typically have no apparent cause. This condition is often characterized by symptoms such as:

  • Mild to severe itching
  • Dry rough and flakey skin
  • Inflamed skin around nipples
  • Irritated skin
  • Red or brownish-gray patches
  • Raised bumps that ooze fluids

If you notice the above symptoms, a dermatologist, an allergist, or a primary care physician can help identify the correct treatment for the condition.

2. Dry skin

Dry skin can also be the underlying cause of scabs on nipples. It is an uncomfortable condition characterized by scaling, itching, and cracking. Dry skin can be caused by:

  • Atopic dermatitis
  • Dehydration
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Heat emergencies
  • Burns among others

Treating the underlying cause of the dry skin is the best way to treating and healing the scabs on the nipple or other parts of the skin.

3. Scabs on nipples during pregnancy

Different physical changes take place during pregnancy. An increase in breast size is a common change that takes place during this time.

This means that if you continue wearing the clothes you used to wear before, then there can be increased friction between your clothes and the nipples, which could lead to scabbing, dryness, cracking, and bleeding of the nipples.

Scabs on nipples during pregnancy is very common in most women.

4. Scabbed nipples when breastfeeding

Scabbed nipples when breastfeeding can be as a result of an improper latch. The most crucial part of successful breastfeeding is the latch. Breastfeeding can be very painful when your baby is not properly latched.

Your health care provider is in a position to show you how to latch properly and also position the baby during breastfeeding.

A scabbed nipple during breastfeeding can also be as a result of yeast infection picked from your kid’s mouth. This can be shown by symptoms such as itching, dryness, and irritation around the nipples. Itchy bumps can also be a sign of a fungus infection.

5. Nipples Piercing

Injuries such as those caused by nipple piercing can also lead to scabs on nipples. As mentioned, scabs form during the healing process of a wound, cut, or burn. When the scabs are as a result of piercing, you need to avoid picking on it until it completely heals.

Avoid touching the wound as this could lead to a bacterial or fungal infection, which will worsen things even further.

How to heal scabs

A scab is often a sign of healing for an injury, bruise, or a cut on the skin. Minor cuts and grazers can be treated and easily healed at home. All that is need is to stop the bleeding, clean the wound thoroughly, and cover or dress the wound up.

dry scab on nipple
dry scab on the nipple

Minor wounds on nipples will often start to heal within a few days after the scab forms. Scabs on nipples can get infected when especially when picked continuously. When infected, scabs can form pus, bleed, or become extremely painful. How then do you heal infected scabs on nipples?

There are simple natural remedies you can use at home to get rid of scabs on nipples fast, depending on what the underlying cause of the infection affecting the scabs, urgent medical examination and diagnosis may be required.

Some of the most effective home remedies that might heal help scabs fast would include the following:

1. A warm compress

A warm compress is a simple yet effective home remedy that can help heal and get rid of scabs on nipples fast. It works by increasing dilating blood vessels around the nipples.

What follows is an increased flow of blood around the nipples. This speeds up the healing process as a result of the increased circulation of red and white blood cells.

To apply a warm compress to the nipples, you will need to:

  1. Soak a clean face towel in a bowl of hot water
  2. Remove the towel and squeeze to get rid of the excess water
  3. Gently hold it over the nipple for a minute or two
  4. Repeat the process for 30 minutes
  5. When done, you can apply an over the counter bacitracin to help the scabs from getting infected.

2. Tea tree oil

Tea tree oil is the other effective home remedy you might try to heal the scabs on nipples. Tree oil, as it is called, is known for its great antiseptic properties. When used, tea tree oil helps prevent bacterial infection on a wound, a cut, or on nipple scabs.

We highly recommend Essential Oil Labs Tea Tree Oil (Check price on Amazon)

To heal scabs with tea tree oil, you will need to:

  1. Dip a clean face towel or rag of clothing in tea tree oil solution
  2. Apply the oil gently on the scabs appearing on the nipple
  3. When applying the oil, you need to be gentle to avoid breaking the crust which might lead to bleeding
  4. Do this repeatedly twice a day to completely heal the scabs on your nipples

3. Honey

Raw honey is the other great remedy you might use to get and heal scabs fast. Natural honey is an ancient antiseptic remedy that not only prevents infection on a wound but also speeds up the healing process of cut, wounds, and scabs.

The other benefit of using honey on skin according to Max Gray of OneHowto is that honey contains antibiotic properties that can greatly improve the appearance of the skin after pimples, cuts, and injuries such as cuts, burns, and boils.

To use honey to heal scabs, you will need to:

  1. Gently clean your nipples using a face towel dipped in warm water
  2. To dry the moisture and water around the nipples, gently dry your skin by patting with a dry towel
  3. Using your clean fingers, gently apply a considerable amount of Manuka honey
  4. This should be done a night; you can hold the honey in place by dressing with a hydro polymer dresser
  5. Let the honey stay on until the next morning then rinses it off by washing with warm water.
  6. Repeat this two or three nights

4. Aloe Vera

The list of skin remedies cannot be complete without the mention of Aloe Vera. Aloe Vera is one of the most used home remedies.

The gel is, in most cases, used to heal sunburns, cuts on the skin, bruises, and to relieve and soothe the skin of itching and irritation.

A great choice would be cold-pressed Aloe Vera gel (Check price on Amazon)

Aloe Vera s said to be anti-itching, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial. According to Natural Products Network, Aloe Vera can help soothe and relieve the discomfort caused by a scab on the nipple. Aloe Vera gel can also help prevent scarring after the scabs heal.

To use Aloe Vera to heal the scabs, you will need to:

  1. Squeeze an Aloe Vera leave to get the gel
  2. Gently apply the thick aloe gel on the scabs on nipples
  3. Leave it on for a couple of hours, most preferably overnight
  4. Do this twice a day

5. Baking soda paste

At home, you can also use baking soda paste to heal and get rid of scabs on nipples. For a time, baking soda has continued to be used as a great remedy for different ski conditions.

This remedy is said to be a great fungicide and a strong antiseptic.

When used on a scab, baking soda works by tightening the scabs. This makes the scab loosen for the wound. The scabs then draw away from the wound, allowing it to fall off.

To use baking soda paste on nipple scabs, you will need to:

  1. Add two tablespoons of baking soda into a cup
  2. Into the cup add a considerate amount of water and gently stir to mix to achieve a constant paste
  3. Gently apply the fine paste of baking soda on the scabs on nipple make sure to cover all of them completely
  4. Find a way to hold the paste on for some hours before rinsing it off with warm water
  5. Repeat this twice or thrice for optimal results

6. Epsom salt

The other way to easily get rid of scabs on nipples fast is by washing the scabs in the Epsom salt solution. Epsom salt can be very effective in healing scabs regardless of the part of the body the scabs appear on.

Epsom salt works by providing relief to the injury and soothing the wounded nipples. It also helps reduce the tenderness of or surrounding the scabs.

Our favorite is Epsom Salt By Sky Organics (Check price on Amazon)

When using the Epsom salt solution, the salt tightens the scab while the water moisturizes the area around the scabs. To use Epsom salt: Soak the scabs with Epsom water by dipping a clean towel in Epsom salt solution repeatedly.

7. Potassium Alum

Potassium Alum is the other great salt you can use at home to heal scabs. It is a natural salt often use as a deodorant and astringent. When used on a scab, it constricts the blood vessels surrounding the scab. This tightens the scab allowing it to be loosened and lifted from the skin.

To use this remedy:

  1. Grind a small amount of potassium alum to make a fine paste
  2. Gently apply the fine paste to the affected area after taking a bath
  3. Let the paste dry on
  4. Re-do the procedure until the scabs are completely gone

8. Apple cider vinegar

Yes, you can reap the benefits of apple cider vinegar to heal scabs on the nipple. Apple cider vinegar is not only a perfect remedy for scabs but also other skin eruptions. ACV helps balance skin pH and also promote cell growth over the wounds.

All you need to do is:

  1. Mix 5 ml of apple cider vinegar with 50 ml of water to dilute
  2. Using a clean cotton ball, apply the diluted solution of apple cider vinegar on the scabs
  3. Leave the solution on before rinsing, do that repeatedly until the scabs heal.


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