Cracked nipples is a complaint that is frequently faced by breastfeeding mothers. However, it may also happen in other women who are not breastfeeding. In the latter, it may arise due to trauma, some skin conditions (like eczema, psoriasis), or infection affecting nipples. Cracked nipples can be accompanied by other signs and symptoms. These include redness, soreness, irritation, oozing, and scabbing/crusting on the nipples or around it. This area may be dry, painful, tender and sometimes there may be bleeding too. In some cases itching, scaling, blisters or ulcers may appear on nipples.
Homeopathy offers a very safe, natural and effective management for cases of cracked nipples. Homeopathic medicines help to halt the further progression of the condition and heal the cracks that are already present in the nipples. They also manage signs and symptoms which accompany the disease. These include redness, soreness, oozing, scabbing / crusting, pain, tenderness, itching, bleeding, scaling, blisters or ulcers. The most suitable medicine for managing the complaints of cracked nipples needs to be selected on a case-to-case basis depending on the signs and symptoms. So it is advised to take any homeopathic medicine only after consultation with a homeopathic physician.
Top Homeopathic Medicines for cracked nipples
1. Graphites – Top-grade Medicine
Graphites is administered when the nipples are cracked and painful. The nipples also become sore. In some cases, small blisters (fluid-filled eruptions) may be present on the nipples. There may be ulcers on the nipples sometimes. It may ooze a thin fluid discharge or thick sticky fluid. It may be followed by formation of a crust. Graphites is well indicated for sore, cracked nipples that may ooze fluid in nursing women. Lastly, it is a highly valuable medicine for managing cases of eczema of the nipples.
It is prepared from plant Phytolacca Decandra, commonly known as ‘poke-root’ and ‘red ink plant’. This plant belongs to family Phytolaccaceae.
This medicine benefits mothers with sore, sensitive, and cracked nipples. Sometimes small ulcers around the nipples may show up. It is very useful for nursing mothers, whose nipples are intensely sensitive and there can be pain while breastfeeding. In such cases, the pain emanates from the nipple and goes to the entire body. It is also one of the best medicines for managing mastitis .
This medicine works well in case of cracked and ulcerated nipples. The nipples can be inflamed too in some cases needing it. Soreness and tenderness is marked in the nipples. Lastly, darting or burning pain mainly in the left nipple can be felt.
4. Castor Equi – For Cracked Nipples During Breastfeeding
It is a very useful medicine for managing cracked nipples during breastfeeding. The nipples are sore and very tender also. The tenderness is so intense that even touch of the clothes is not bearable to the sufferer. In addition to the above, there may be redness of the areola.
It is a very beneficial medicine for women with sore cracked nipples. They also present itching and burning pain. Cracks may be deep at the base of the nipples. Burning sensation is intense. Sometimes there may be smarting and stinging sensation that gets worse after every breastfeeding session. It is also administered for bleeding from the cracks that may occur after feeding the baby. Next indication for its use is in case of yellow scales on the areola. It may ooze fluid. Itching and burning is felt in it mainly during the night. Lastly, it is an important medicine when ulcers are formed on the nipples.
This medicine is prominently given when the nipples are sore, cracked, and bleed. It may be preceded by itching. Nipples are excoriated and also ulcerated.
7. Aurum Sulph
This medicine offers help to those who have cracked painful nipples. Among those needing it, the nipple pain is sharp or piercing. In addition to this, there may be swelling of breasts that is sensitive to touch.
8. Fluoric Acid
Use of this medicine is recommended for cases in which the nipples are red and itchy along with cracks. The nipples are also sore. Swelling may also be there in the right nipple.
It is a natural medicine prepared from plant Lycopodium Clavatum having common name called ‘club moss.’ It belongs to family lycopodiaceae. This medicine is useful when there are cracked nipples that bleed easily. In some cases, moist scabs are present on the nipples. Soreness and rawness of nipples is also present. Pain is felt in the nipples with the above symptoms. The pain can be stitching or burning in nature. It may sometimes be of stinging nature as well.
10. Merc Cor
It is the last medicine in the list to manage cases of cracked nipples. The main indicating feature for using it is cracked nipples along with severe pain in the nipples while breastfeeding the child. Tendency of bleeding from cracked nipples may also be present in females who require this medicine.
What Are The Causes?
Though cracked nipples occur most commonly in breastfeeding mothers, there are some other causes too.
A) Causes of Cracked nipples in breastfeeding mothers
The first main reason behind cracked nipples is breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding is not something that causes pain and not all breastfeeding mothers get cracked nipples. But in some of the nursing mothers, this may happen.
Firstly, it can be a result from poor latch (latch means how a baby puts his mouth on mother’s breast for sucking milk). A good latch (the nipple and large part of the areola is in the baby’s mouth) is needed for high milk flow and comfortable feeding session and the mother feels no pain or discomfort in the nipple. If the latch is poor, it means baby is latching only on to the nipple and not the aeorla and it leads to poor milk transfer to baby and may cause sore and cracked nipples on the breast. Nipple cracks from breastfeeding are mostly seen during the first month after delivery. This is because a newborn baby is still learning the right way to latch and take feed and in that process can cause trauma and cracked nipples. Poor latching may also occur if the baby has tongue tie, high palate or small mouth.
Next, it can arise if the baby is not positioned correctly during the breastfeeding session.
Breast engorgement is another condition that can lead to it. Breast engorgement refers to hard, swollen, painful, tender breasts due to increase in volume of breast milk. It can lead to changes in the shape of the nipple area and can cause hinderance in proper latching of the baby onto the breast.
The chances of cracked nipples are also more if the baby is made to use feeding bottle in addition to breastfeeding. This is because the method of milk sucking is separate for both breast and bottle. It may cause nipple confusion to the baby and trauma to the nipple.
Incorrect use of breast pumps, for example from very high suction level, may also lead to cracks.
B) Causes of cracked nipples other than breastfeeding
Among other causes the first is trauma to nipples from cuts, blows or friction (as from ill-fitted clothes) that can cause cracking or chafing of the nipple.
Next, are certain skin conditions. Its first example is eczema/dermatitis, a skin condition in which red, inflamed rashes on the skin that are itchy can be spotted. Roughness and cracking may be present too. In some cases, blisters appear that may leak fluid, followed by crusting and scaling. It may also be caused due to some allergic reaction from direct contact of nipple with an irritant (like soap, lotion, certain fabrics, detergent).
Another reason could be psoriasis. It is an autoimmune skin disease in which red, inflamed patches appear on the skin covered by silvery-white scales/flakes. It may be attended with itching, soreness, or burning. Dryness and cracks may also occur in these patches. These may bleed too. Though psoriasis commonly affects knees, elbows, and scalp, it may also affect other body parts including nipples in some cases.
Lastly, it can occur from bacterial or fungal infections. An example of bacterial infection is infection from bacteria named Staphyloccus. Thrush is a fungal infection that can be passed from newborns (if they have it in mouth) to mother’s nipples during breastfeeding.
What Are Its Complications?
The complication that can arise in these cases is mastitis if the bacteria gain entry in the breast tissue through the cracked nipples and causes an infection.
Mastitis refers to inflammation of the breast tissue. Its signs and symptoms include swollen, red, painful and tender breasts. Heat and burning sensation in the breast, general malaise and fever may also be present. If left untreated or not treated correctly, there are chances of formation of mammary abscess (pus-filled lump in the breast).