If you choose to feed your baby through breastfeeding instead of milk formula, chances are you’ve experienced a few discomforts and problems around that area during a feeding session or shortly after.
Discomforts such as sore nipples, cracked nipples or, the topic of this article, itchy breasts and itchy nipples.
What starts off as a mild irritation and discomfort that you tell yourself will eventually go away, grows to become increasingly painful and eventually unbearable.
Don’t worry, though, as this is more common than you may think it is and you’re not alone. As much as the burning sensation makes you want to stop, definitely don’t let this discourage you from continuing to directly breastfeed or pump breast milk, because there are solutions to the problem and it’s not that serious to warrant you giving up on breastfeeding.
At the same time, definitely don’t ignore it and breastfeed/pump through the increasing pain as well, as that will only lead to the problem becoming worse.
A Quick & Important Note To Begin With
Before we begin talking about why your breasts and/or nipples may be itching and what you can do to solve this issue, a very important note must be made right from the get go, that you should NOT give in to the temptation of endless scratching to relieve the itch.
Yes, I know, the urge is sometimes way too much for you to resist and you feel like you just have to scratch or else you’re going to go insane and will want to rip your breasts off, but you shouldn’t give in to the urge.
This is especially true when it’s your nipples that are itching you the most, because this will only lead to more inflammation, more physical pain, more cracks and just prolonging the problem in general.
Why Do My Breasts Feel Itchy When I Breastfeed?
Let’s have a look at some of the most common reasons why you and many mothers out there experience itchy breasts while breastfeeding, and what you can do to make your troubles go away.
If you’re one of countless mothers who have sensitive nipples that often become cracked and feel sore, check out this article on the best nipple cream for breastfeeding that may help ease your pain and solve your problem.
Whatever cream you choose to moisturize your breasts and nipples with has to be made from 100% safe ingredients for baby, because they’re going to be coming in direct oral contact with these ingredients.
You may have dry skin and could very possibly be using products on a daily basis that are aggravating this problem instead of help solve it.
When taking your daily showers, what kind of water are you showering with? Is it hot and hard water? This is known to make skin dry, which could lead to you feeling itchiness in your breast area, so stay on the safe side and try to shower with cool water instead.
The same holds true for the products you use when you shower, such as the body soap you subject your breasts to.
So, to remove the possibility of these products being what’s causing all this itchiness in your breasts and nipples, try to use 100% natural products when you’re bathing, ones that are made from ingredients that do not irritate your skin and do not add to the dryness in that area.
Thrush, which is the development of a yeast infection inside the nursing mother’s body, is one of the more common reasons that cause itchy breasts.
It doesn’t always have to stem from your body, though, as babies that have oral thrush and are being breastfed can (and will) lead to the development of this infection on their mother’s nipples.
Most of the times, the human body and immune system is able to control the growth of the organism called Candida fungus, which is found in our bodies and is what causes Thrush when it grows in excessive amounts and beyond controllable limits.
To tell if you have thrush or not, the following are two lists for the most common symptoms you’ll observe if you have it – one list for symptoms you’ll show as a nursing mother, and one list for symptoms that your breastfed baby will show.
Note that depending on the severity of the condition you have as compared to someone else with a more mild (or more extreme) case, the extent of the symptoms you experience may differ from the extent of the symptoms a different mother may experience.
The more difficult and advanced your condition is, the more of these symptoms you’ll notice and the more severe pain you’ll be feeling – and vice versa.
Symptoms You Exhibit If You Have Thrush
- Itchiness in the breasts area
- Itchiness and/or a burning sensation in the nipples area
- Cracking in the nipples
- Change in the color of the nipples (discoloration)
- Growing pain in the nipples during (or after) a breastfeeding session
- Feeling of pain in the nipples caused by certain clothing textures
- A sore feeling in the nipples at the slightest touch from you or your baby
- Feeling of pain deep inside the breast(s)
Symptoms Your Baby Exhibits If They Have Thrush In Their Mouth
- Excessive and unusual white color on the tongue
- Unusual white colored spots found on the inside of the lip(s)
- Unusual white colored spots found on the inside of the cheek(s)
- Rash (with the possibility of red dots and spots as well) in baby’s diaper area
- Excessive (and seemingly uncontrollable) crying when being breastfed
- Excessive (and seemingly uncontrollable) crying even when given a pacifier
Just like Thrush, Mastitis is also one of the more common culprits for itchiness in the breasts and nipples alike.
Mastitis in breastfeeding mothers happens when there’s a bacterial infection in the mother’s body, and the mammary gland in the breast becomes heavily inflamed.
If you’re currently breastfeeding, then actively monitor for the following symptoms in your body which, if present, are common signs of mastitis.
Symptoms Of Mastitis In A Breastfeeding Mother
- Breast engorgement
- Affected area becomes tender
- Affected area becomes warm to the touch
- Fever (if fever persists for more than 48 to 72 hours, seek professional medical help immediately)
First Time Mothers
Is this your first time ever being a mother? Or have you previously given birth to a child before?
If this is your first ever baby that you’re breastfeeding, then you should know that first time mothers have higher chances of experiencing breast and nipple itchiness than mothers that have previously given birth before.
What Should I Do If I Can’t Stop My Breasts From Itching?
Seeking Professional Medical Help
If you’ve tried everything mentioned in this article so far and have found that you’re getting little to no results from your effort, you’re best off seeking professional medical advice for it.
When you’ve seemingly tried every other cream, moisturizer, ointment and home remedy known to man kind and none of them made you feel better, there may be an underlying health condition causing this itchy feeling that requires the supervision of a medical doctor.
If you can afford it and money is not an issue for you, we’d even advise you to seek medical advice as soon as possible, when you first start experiencing these itches.
It’s just that many mothers would prefer to try out low cost solutions first before paying heftier medical consultation bills.
You should also not be discouraged from going to the doctor and asking about this problem if you think they won’t take you seriously enough.
Nothing you ever feel in any part of your body is ever “not serious enough” to warrant you feeling ashamed of asking a doctor about.
If Thrush Is The Problem
If thrush is the problem that’s causing all that itchiness in your breasts and/or nipples, it’s best that you see a doctor about it as soon as possible.
Whatever you do, do not neglect it and assume it will go away on its own when breastfeeding your baby.
Because thrush is an infection that you can pass on to your baby during breastfeeding or have your baby give to you, both of you can get caught up in a vicious cycle if you don’t seek treatment for it right away.
Your doctor will prescribe medication for either you or your baby (most commonly in the form of a topical antibacterial ointment), depending on who has this yeast infection.
If both of you have it and you plan on continuing breastfeeding your baby, then you’ll both need to take medication at the same time to get rid of this infection properly.
All other details such as the course of treatment and when you should stop the medication will also be specified by your doctor, depending on whether this infection is in an advanced or early stage.
If you’re worried about the doctor doing a hundred and one tests on you to determine what it is exactly that’s causing all this itchiness and pain in your breasts (and/or nipples), then worry not.
Doctors are usually able to tell if thrush is the cause of the problem in just a few minutes after they have a look at the affected breasts.
The Importance Of Sterilization
Besides professional medical help from a doctor, also try your best to sterilize whatever you can that your baby puts in their mouth.
For the best chances of preventing re-infection, sterilize anything and everything that your baby puts in their mouth on a daily basis once per day.
Preventing cross contamination is key in making sure no re-infection happens.
That means all your baby’s pacifiers and bottles they drink from should be boiled for 20 minutes to 30 minutes once a day.
The same goes for any toys they frequently put in their mouth, assuming they can be sterilized without being damaged.
If not, then a thorough wash every day with hot water and soap will be enough.
A Final Word On Itchy Breasts While Breastfeeding
So, as you’ve seen and read about above, you’re not alone in this – there are tons of mothers out there that go through exactly what you go through when breastfeeding and growing itchiness suddenly comes out of nowhere.
The one thing you should NOT do just because your breasts start to itch during or after a breastfeeding sessions is to give up on this feeding method and turn to formula feeding.
You’ll be denying your baby all the benefits breastfeeding has to offer, all for something that’s easily treatable once you know why it’s happening and give it some time.