Using Lanolin to Relieve Nipple Pain

How to use it, where to buy it, and safety tips

In This Article

Breastfeeding discomfort is a significant problem for many women, nipple pain especially. In fact, many women cite nipple pain as the main reason they stop breastfeeding.

If you are dealing with nipple pain or cracked or bleeding nipples, you may be wondering what products you can use to help make nursing more comfortable. Lanolin cream is a nipple cream often used to help cope with this problem. Read on to find out if it is safe to use while breastfeeding, how to use it to reduce pain while breastfeeding, and when it's time to see a professional.

What Is Lanolin Cream?

Lanolin is a mixture of alcohol esters and fatty acids derived from sheep's wool. It's used in many different kinds of cosmetic and pharmaceutical ointments, such as soap and lubricants. It looks like a thick yellowish-white cream or paste.

If you've felt a sheep's wool, you may have felt the greasy feeling of lanolin near the root of the wool, which helps condition the wool and keep it soft and moisturized.

The protective and moisturizing properties of lanolin have made it a popular choice amongst breastfeeding moms experiencing nipple pain.

Safety

Lanolin is safe to use while breastfeeding and is non-toxic to both mother and baby. You do not have to wipe it off or remove it before your baby breastfeeds.

According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, the most common side effect that is associated with the use of lanolin cream is an allergic reaction or skin irritation.

If you do experience any skin irritation or increased pain, skin cracking, or bleeding while using lanolin cream, or your baby's mouth develops any sores or redness, you should discontinue using it. You or your baby may be sensitive to the cream, even if it is safe for use.

How to Use

You can apply lanolin cream or paste directly onto your nipples or any affected areas on your areola anytime you are experiencing nipple pain, or as a preventive measure. You can safely apply the cream to cracked and bleeding areas, but any open areas may need additional time to heal.

Since you don't have to wipe it off before feeding, you can apply the cream before you nurse, leave it on during your baby's breastfeeding session, and apply it after nursing as well. If you use lanolin before breastfeeding, however, apply it 10 to 15 minutes before your baby is going to nurse in order to give it time to absorb into your skin.

You can apply lanolin cream as frequently as you need to, but you should apply when you will have time for the cream to absorb into your skin.

Lanolin cream is greasy, so it does have the potential to stain your clothing or any blankets if it comes into contact with fabric, so take precautions to avoid stains during use. If it does stain your clothing or blankets, you can use a grease-fighting soap to soak and wash the fabric to remove the stain.

You should store your lanolin cream in a cool, dry place. If it is exposed to warmer temperatures, it may cause the lanolin to liquify. The cream can still be used, but you might want to allow it to turn back into a solid at cooler temperatures.

Where to Buy

Lanolin is available over-the-counter and many times it is provided by hospitals for new mothers before they go home with their baby. Your doctor may also give you a prescription for it. There are popular name-brand versions of lanolin cream as well as off-brand products you can purchase.

There are different types of lanolin processing, so you will want to look for a lanolin cream that is pure and preservative-free so that it is as safe as possible for your infant.

A Word From Verywell

Nipple pain while breastfeeding is a significant problem for many women and in some cases may cause them to stop breastfeeding altogether. There are solutions you can try to ease the pain of nursing, including using safe products like lanolin cream.

Lanolin cream can be purchased at most stores or prescribed by your doctor and it can help ease the pain of cracked, sore nipples during breastfeeding. Lanolin is safe to use while breastfeeding and it can even be applied and left on during nursing, so it's an effective solution to try if you're experiencing sore or painful nipples with breastfeeding.

If your discomfort with breastfeeding continues, or your nipple pain gets worse or develops into bleeding nipples, you will want to consult with a professional like a lactation consultant. In some cases, it may be helpful to get advice about adjusting your baby's latch or position during nursing.

You should also stop using lanolin cream if you or your baby develop sensitivity to the product or have increased pain or irritation after applying it, as some people can be allergic.

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Article Sources

  • Kent, J. C., et al. Nipple Pain in Breastfeeding Mothers: Incidence, Causes, and Treatments. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health12(10), 12247-63. 2015. DOI: 10.3390/ijerph121012247

  • U.S. National Library of Medicine. Lanolin. 2018.