About two-thirds of women at some point experience dry and itchy nipples. It, however, is more common in breastfeeding mothers, especially when the baby is not properly latched on. Itchy nipples can be incredibly uncomfortable but can be managed with some home remedies.
Causes of itchy nipples
- Dry weather can cause itchiness all over including the breasts and nipples
- Contact dermatitis from soap, lotion, or laundry detergent
- Reaction to the bra, its elastic or dye, or other components
- Friction leading to chafing as the nipples rub against clothing while you exercise or because the bra is too tight
- Pregnancy and accompanying hormonal changes come with so many effects including itchy nipples
- Breastfeeding. Milk residue plugged milk ducts, and problems with the baby latching
- Thrush, a fungal infection for which you should seek treatment
- Menopause and hormonal changes also cause itchy nipples
- Radiation treatment for breast cancer can cause severe itching in breasts and nipples
- Paget’s disease which is a rare form of breast cancer
- A benign tumour
1. Oil massage
This is the easiest and most effective remedy. Massage coconut oil to itchy nipples. Any other oil can be used but coconut oil is recommended because of its moisturizing and antimicrobial properties as well as anti-inflammatory, antifungal, and antiviral properties. Coconut oil is also easily absorbed into the skin and is preferred by pregnant women. Other recommended oils include olive oil, jojoba oil, tea tree oil, and calendula oil.
Olive oil is used for its moisturizing properties.
Jojoba oil is favoured by runners who develop irritated nipples or what is commonly referred to as jogger’s nipple from chafing while running. Irritated nipples may crack or bleed which can be quite painful.
Tea tree oil is an antifungal and antiseptic agent. It relieves irritation and reduces the chances of infection.
- Warm your preferred oil (in hot water)
- Apply it to the affected area and massage it gently
- Repeat the application a few times a day until you see changes.
Instant relief from itchy nipples can be obtained from butter. Butter is moisturizing which has the effect of hydrating the nipples reducing the itching. Apply butter on the nipples, massaging in a gentle circular motion. Leave it for a few minutes before washing off.
Honey is a home remedy extraordinaire. It has antibacterial properties which make it ideal for skin-related issues. Apply it to the affected area and leave it for some time. Wash it off while taking a bath. Within a few days, you will begin to notice the difference.
4. Aloe Vera
Aloe Vera is one of the most effective home remedies for itchy nipples. It has strong healing properties which are why it has been used for treating various skin conditions and infections for ages.
Mash the pulp of aloe vera and apply it to the nipples. Leave it for about 10 minutes and then gently massage. Wash it off with water and a clean washcloth. Pat dry it with a soft towel and repeat the application a few times a day for three days.
5. Basil leaves
Basil leaves have long acknowledged healing properties. They help treat multiple skin disorders by speeding up the healing process. For itchy nipples, make a paste of it and apply it to the itchy areas. Leave it for a while before washing it off. Repeat the process for about a week.
Ice is very effective for getting temporary relief from itchy nipples. Take an ice cube and rub over the affected area for instant relief.
7. Petroleum jelly
This is one of the most commonly used remedies for skin irritation, dry skin, and other ailments. Apply it to the affected area as many times as you dare during the day.
8. Peppermint tea
Nipple eczema which causes the nipple to itch is one of the most common problems faced by breastfeeding women. Due to poor breastfeeding latch, irritation and cracks may develop in the nipples resulting in pain and itching. One study showed that it can be prevented by applying lukewarm peppermint tea to the nipples.
Breastmilk has many healing and antibacterial properties that can help relieve itchy nipples that are caused by breastfeeding.
Apply a few drops of milk over the affected area before you start breastfeeding. After breastfeeding, apply some more breast milk to your nipples. Let it air-dry. Repeat a few times a day until the nipples are healed
10. Apple cider vinegar
Apple cider vinegar has antifungal, antibacterial, and antiviral properties.
Mix one cup of raw apple cider vinegar with five cups of filtered water. Soak a clean washcloth in warm water and wash the affected area. Its anti-inflammatory properties relieve the itch and irritation and also clean the area.
11. Baking soda
Baking soda has anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antifungal, and antiseptic properties.
Mix a tablespoon of baking soda with warm water to make a paste.
Apply the paste to the itchy nipples.
Let it rest for about 20 minutes before rinsing off.
Repeat application twice a week.
12. Warm compress
The heat that comes from a warm compress relieves the pain and itching. A clean hygienic cloth can be used for this purpose.
Dip the washcloth in warm water and wring out the excess water.
Keep it on each nipple for about 10 minutes then let the nipple rest.
Apply a warm compress a few times a day until the itching stops.
A heating pad can be used as an alternative.
13. Colloidal oatmeal wash
Wash the affected area with an oatmeal wash. It helps moisturize the skin and relieve itching. Put a handful of oatmeal powder in your lukewarm water bathing water. Repeat this process twice a week for better results.
14. Lemon and vitamin C
The citric acid in lemons can help relieve skin itching and irritation. Slice a lemon in half and rub it on the affected area. Health & Beauty: The Benefits Of Lemon
15. Chamomile tea bags
Chamomile’s anti-inflammatory properties can help reduce swelling, itchiness, and soreness of nipples. It can also speed up the recovery process.
- Pour warm water in a basin
- Add two chamomile tea bags to it and let them steep
- Wash the affected areas with this water
- Remove the teabags and drain out the excess water then place the tea bags on the nipples for a few minutes
- Let the nipples air dry then wash and dry them with a clean cloth
- Apply petroleum jelly to the nipples
- Repeat three times a day until the nipples are healed
Preventing itchy nipples
- Wear cotton bras and avoid wearing tight ill-fitting bras. Negative Effects Of Wearing A Tight Bra
- Wear loose clothes to bed
- Dry your nipples properly after a shower
- Don’t use strongly scented soaps
- Don’t pull the nipple out of the baby’s mouth while breastfeeding
- Breastfeed from both breasts
- Avoid using breast-enlarging creams or oils
- Use sports bras while exercising
- Apply petroleum jelly and moisturize your nipples.