10 Tips for Breastfeeding With a Friction Blister on Your Breast

Tired mother nursing baby daughter indoors at home, resting on bed.
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You can get a blister (or blisters) on your areola, nipples, or on the surrounding skin of your breast. Blisters develop for different reasons. They can be painful, and they can interfere with breastfeeding. Certain types of skin blisters are not too much of an issue, but others can be dangerous.

If you develop a breast or nipple blister, determine which type of blister you have before you breastfeed your baby. If you have blisters on your breast from a herpes outbreak or contact with poison ivy, oak, or sumac, you should not breastfeed your child.

However, if you get a friction blister from breastfeeding (specifically, the rubbing of your baby's mouth against the skin on your breast), it might be painful, but it's safe to continue to breastfeed. Here are 10 tips for breastfeeding with a friction blister.

Don't Pop the Blister

While it can be tempting to pop a blister, it's best to leave it be. With time, it will heal on its own. If you try to pop a blister or break it open, it could take longer to heal or make the situation worse (such as by opening the skin up to infection).

Check Your Baby's Latch 

Make sure your baby is latching on to your breast correctly. If you have a blister because of a poor latch and you don't fix it, the blister might not heal well. It could also continue to come back.

Breastfeed With Unaffected Breast First

If the blister is painful, breastfeed on the breast without the blister first. Your baby's suck is stronger at the beginning of a feeding. After they've nursed for a while on the unaffected side, their suck might be less vigorous by the time you switch them to the breast that's sore from a blister.

Rotate Breastfeeding Positions

Use a different nursing position each time you breastfeed. Your baby's mouth will be in a different place on your breast with each position change, which means that one area won't be getting all the pressure and friction. Switching positions can also put less pressure on the site of the blister, which can help make it less painful for you to breastfeed.

Use Safe Pain Medication

If you can't get through a feeding session without pain, talk to your doctor about taking an over-the-counter pain reliever. If you take a dose of Motrin (ibuprofen) or Tylenol (acetaminophen) an hour before nursing, it might help reduce the pain.

Watch for Signs of Infection

If your blister is causing intense pain, the pain gets worse, or you develop signs of an infection, contact your health care provider right away.

Signs of a breast infection can include:

  • Breasts that are swollen, red, tender, and warm to the touch
  • Discharge from your nipple that is unusual (such as pus or blood)
  • Feeling generally sick or having "flu-like" symptoms (such as malaise, a fever, and chills)

Pump If You Can't Breastfeed

If you have to temporarily stop breastfeeding to let your breast(s) heal, be sure to pump your breast milk. Pumping will allow you to continue to provide breast milk for your baby as well as maintain your milk supply.

Use Your Pump Correctly

If you're pumping, make sure the breast flanges (breast shields) fit you properly and don't set the pump's suction level too high. The incorrect use of a breast pump can cause blisters and damage to your breast tissue. It can also further irritate breasts that are already blistered and painful.

Pay Attention to Your Bra

Wear a clean, dry nursing bra that is supportive and fits you well. A bra that's too tight can put too much pressure on your breast tissue. A bra that's too big can rub against your breasts causing more friction. 

Change Your Breast Pads Often

If you wear nursing pads, change them whenever they become soiled or wet. Wet nursing pads provide the perfect environment for yeast and bacteria to grow. If you already have a blister or skin breakdown on your breasts, bacteria can enter your skin and cause an infection.

When to Call Your Doctor

Once you figure out where the friction that's causing your blister is coming from and eliminate it, the blister should heal on its own within a week. If the friction continues, the blister can last much longer or become worse. Call your doctor if you have a blister that does not heal after one week.   


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  • Cadwell K, Turner-Maffei C, O'Connor B, Cadwell Blair A, Arnold LDW, Blair EM. Maternal and Infant Assessment for Breastfeeding and Human Lactation A Guide for the Practitioner Second Edition. Jones and Bartlett Publishers. 2006.

  • Lawrence RA, Lawrence RM. Breastfeeding A Guide For The Medical Profession Seventh Edition. Mosby. 2011.

  • Riordan J, Wambach K. Breastfeeding and Human Lactation Fourth Edition. Jones and Bartlett Learning. 2014.

By Donna Murray, RN, BSN
Donna Murray, RN, BSN has a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Rutgers University and is a current member of Sigma Theta Tau, the Honor Society of Nursing.