Information and Treatment of Nipple Blebs

How to Deal With Blocked Nipple Pores

Woman breast feeding her baby
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A nipple bleb is a tiny white or yellow spot that forms on the nipple at the end of a milk duct or nipple pore. It is believed to be a small, milk-filled cyst, a milk blister, or a blockage created from breast milk that has become thick and hard. A nipple bleb may look like a smooth, shiny, singular white dot similar to a whitehead pimple, and it is often associated with a plugged milk duct. In this article, you find some information on milk blebs and how to treat them.

Breastfeeding With a Nipple Bleb

A nipple bleb may not bother you at all, or it may cause extreme pain during breastfeeding. If it isn't painful, you can leave the milk blister alone and breastfeed as you normally would.

If a milk bleb is painful, you may not want to breastfeed. But, frequent breastfeeding is important to maintain your breast milk supply. It can also help dislodge the bleb and prevent clogged ducts, breast engorgement, and mastitis. If the pain is bearable, continue to breastfeed very often. If it's just too painful, you can pump your breast milk for your baby. A quality breast pump may also help to remove the bleb.

How to Treat Nipple Blebs While Breastfeeding

If you get a nipple bleb, you want to try to remain as comfortable as possible while waiting for the problem to resolve. Here's what you can do to try to relieve the pain and heal more quickly:

  1. Breastfeed very often and make sure your baby is latching on correctly.
  2. Soak, massage, and apply heat to the bleb to try to open the milk duct and loosen up the blockage.
  3. Rub your nipples with liquid lecithin, an antibiotic ointment, or Dr. Jack Newman's All-Purpose Nipple Ointment a few times a day after breastfeeding. 
  4. Use ice packs or cold cabbage leaves to ease the pain in your breasts. You can also ask your doctor if you can take a pain reliever such as Tylenol (acetaminophen) or Motrin (ibuprofen)
  5. If the fabric of your bra or clothing rubs against the bleb and causes discomfort, you can wear breast shells to protect your breasts
  6. Talk to your doctor or a lactation consultant about taking a lecithin supplement. Lecithin is believed to help heal and prevent plugged milk ducts so it may be helpful for a milk bleb. A typical dose is one tablespoon of liquid or granulated lecithin per day, or one 1200 milligram capsule three to four times per day.
  7. Try to clean the area and remove the blockage by gently rubbing the bleb with a washcloth or scraping it with a clean fingernail.
  1. If you can tolerate it, you can use gentle pressure from behind the bleb to try to squeeze the blockage out.
  2. Try to prevent the milk ducts from becoming clogged by using proper breastfeeding technique, nursing often, alternating breastfeeding positions and avoiding tight tops and underwire bras.

When to See the Doctor

If a nipple bleb is painful and does not go away on its own in a few weeks, even with a good latch and frequent breastfeeding, then it's time to meet with your doctor. Sometimes a thin layer of skin forms over the area and covers the milk bleb preventing it from getting better. Your health professional can use a sterile needle to break open the skin and remove the bleb.

You should also notify the doctor if you develop a fever, or notice redness, swelling or drainage (that isn't breast milk) from the area. These are the signs of an infection.

What Else It Could Be

Nipple blebs are sometimes confused with other breast problems. Issues such as nipple blisters or thrush may look similar to a milk blister.

  • A nipple blister is larger than a nipple bleb and does not usually cause such excruciating pain. Blisters are often the result of a poor latch or friction caused by a powerful suck. Once breastfeeding technique is corrected, nipple blisters will usually heal on their own within a few days.
  • Thrush is a fungal (yeast) infection that can cause severe burning and pain, especially during breastfeeding. Thrush may cause the nipples to appear shiny and red, but it can also look like small white patches on the skin. So, if there are a few milk blebs on the nipple, it could resemble thrush. Since thrush and nipple blebs require different treatment, it's important to figure out which issue you're dealing with. Thrush can spread quickly and lead to other breast problems such as mastitis, a painful breast infection. If you think you may have thrush, you should notify your doctor.

A Word From Verywell

Nipple blebs can be painful and interfere with successful breastfeeding. Breast and nipple pain can make you want to give up on breastfeeding. It's a common cause for early weaning.

A good breastfeeding latch and breastfeeding often can help to prevent nipple blebs or help you get rid of them if they form. If you do get a milk bleb, hang in there. If you can breastfeed through it, it should go away on its own within a few weeks. But, if breastfeeding is too painful or a bleb is not going away, you should see your doctor. You may need additional treatment to heal and get breastfeeding back on track.

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