Why Are My Nipples Sore? -- Causes
and Top 10 Natural Remedies

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February 10, 2012, last updated February 24, 2015
By Louise Carr, Associate Editor and Featured Columnist

[Health and fitness articles are reviewed by our team of Registered
Nurses, Certified fitness trainers and other members of our Editorial

Few things are more irritating than soreness and discomfort
that just won’t go away, and when the soreness affects an
intimate area the problem is even harder to bear. Sore
nipples affect women at various points in the reproductive
cycle and are caused by different factors, depending on
what’s happening in your body at the time. What causes
sore nipples?  What do sore nipples mean before
menopause? What causes sore nipples when you reach
menopause? Have you just given birth and are suffering
from sore nipples when breastfeeding?  

Sore nipples are as common as lack of sleep for new moms.
In fact, between 11% and 96% of women  suffer from sore
nipples according to a 1998 study from Mercy Hospital of
Pittsburgh.  Think you just have to put up with it? Not true.

There are a number of strategies for easing the pain of sore
nipples when feeding, and remedies that work on other
causes of sore nipples, too. If you put up with the soreness
it can turn into pain, which can develop into cracked and
bleeding nipples. No one wants that, so focus on the
remedies to heal the hurt.

What Causes Sore Nipples?

Why are you suffering from sore nipples? The stage of life
you’re at gives you the answers. Before menopause, sore
nipples often occur when you are at the post-ovulation
stage of your cycle when the hormone progesterone causes
your body, including your breasts, to retain water. Water
stored in the breast tissue can cause sore nipples and
painful breasts. If you become pregnant, the levels of
progesterone will increase and the sore nipple sensation will

Sore nipples are a common complaint when breastfeeding,
and may lead to giving up and going back to the bottle. Ask
your health care provider what to do following the birth of
your baby if sore nipples are causing you concern. Your
baby may not be getting enough of the breast in her mouth,
you may have damaged your nipple with a breast pump, you
may have a thrush infection passed on by your baby, or a
nipple blister.

At menopause, sore nipples and sore breasts affect you as
part of what is called the "climacteric syndrome", an
upsetting collection of symptoms that include hot flashes,
weight gain, mood changes, painful breasts and headaches.
Sore nipples at this time are often caused by your wildly
fluctuating hormone levels. (Read more about
remedies for menopause symptoms.)

Sore nipples may, rarely, be caused by breast cancer. Your
sore nipples could be a warning sign of Paget’s disease of
the nipple, a condition that causes irritated, red, and painful
nipples. Paget’s disease of the nipple is usually caused by a
cancer in the breast tissue. (Read more about
breast cancer
prevention tips.)

Thankfully there are things you can do to ease the pain
associated with sore nipples. We checked out the latest
scientific findings to discover how you can ease nipple pain
and prevent sore nipples at every stage of your life.

Top 10 Natural Remedies for Sore Nipples

1. Glycerin Gels in Breastfeeding Help Remedy Sore Nipples

When you’re nursing, sore nipples can cause significant pain
and discomfort and you might want to give up breastfeeding
earlier than you’d planned. A number of solutions have been
investigated for helping new moms with sore nipples. One
strategy of defense is using glycerin gel.  

A 2004 study from the Healthy Children Project at The
Center for Breastfeeding in East Sandwich, Massachusetts
found women using glycerin gel after breastfeeding were
more satisfied with the treatment compared to women using
lanolin cream, regarding nipple soreness and pain. However,
most of the women experienced relief from nipple soreness
when instructed on the best ways to feed their babies.

Is Breast Milk Better for Sore Nipples?

Some women swear by the breast milk solution for easing
sore nipples during breastfeeding. Experts have also put
their weight behind these claims. A 2005 study from the
Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, Imam Reza Hospital, Iran
found rubbing breast milk into the nipple after feeding was
more effective than lanolin in treating the symptoms of sore
nipples because the nipples healed more quickly. This cost-
effective solution could help many new moms suffering from
sore nipples after nursing.  

Peppermint Water Helps Ease the Pain of Sore Nipples

Another remedy to try is seemingly ineffective, but a recent
study found it helps prevent nipple cracks and soreness in
nursing women. Peppermint water – in reality, lukewarm,
weak peppermint tea – was found by a 2007 study from
Alzahra Teaching Hospital, Tabriz University of Medical
Sciences, Iran to help prevent nipple cracks when applied
directly to the nipples.

A second study in 2007 also from this university found that
peppermint gel works just as well as peppermint water and
warm water compresses in relieving painful, sore nipples.

Do Tea Bags Help Sore Nipples?

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