What are Milk Blebs?

Breastfeeding, as we all know, is not always an easy task. In addition to the long hours, there can be complications that naturally occur, and knowing how to take care of these barriers ahead of time can help you to destress and feel better if the time comes. Milk blebs, also known as nipple blebs, are a normal yet potentially frustrating side effect of breastfeeding. We want to tell you everything you should know so you can tackle this problem if it comes up!

So, what are milk blebs?

Milk blebs are small white-ish spots that form on the nipple during breastfeeding. They may be similar to a pimple, or even have a yellowish hue1. These blebs are not typically painful but can cause some discomfort. They are thought to be caused by a pore or duct that becomes clogged with hardened breast milk. If you’re experiencing pain, it may be more likely to be a milk blister. Although bleb and blister are sometimes used interchangeably, milk blisters are caused by skin growing over a milk duct and causing a raised and oftentimes painful area on the skin2

How can I treat it?

Milk blebs, as long as they’re not painful, are most easily treated by continuing to breastfeed! Frequent nursing can help to unlodge the clog as well as prevent any future ones from forming. While you are waiting for it to heal, avoiding pressure around the nipple area, whether from tight bras or tops, can help as well. Experts also recommend lightly massaging the area with clean hands and applying heat to try and unclog your pores. These treatment options also apply to milk blisters! Nipple blebs and blisters should resolve on their own, but if they don’t, calling a professional is a good idea. If the pain is preventing you from breastfeeding, call your doctor or IBCLC to get a treatment plan. 

What can I do to prevent them?

While milk blebs and blisters can appear naturally, they are oftentimes caused by latching or positioning problems. Switching the positions you breastfeed in can help to prevent friction that may lead to a blister. In addition, meeting with one of our IBCLCs to get the best information on how to get your baby to latch, and what positions work best for you, is a great way to prevent breastfeeding complications.  

Resources

  1. Donna Murray, R. N. (2020, December 14). Get Tips on How to Treat Nipple Blebs While Breastfeeding. Verywell Family. https://www.verywellfamily.com/blebs-and-breastfeeding-431579. 
  2. Nall, R. (2016, February 10). Milk Blister or Bleb: Causes, Treatment, and Prevention. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/parenting/milk-blister. 
  3. Westerfield, K. L., Koenig, K., & Oh, R. (2018). Breastfeeding: Common Questions and Answers. American family physician, 98(6), 368–373.

Claire Dowell