Why Do I Get Itchy Breasts while Breastfeeding? (And The Treatment)

For most parents, breastfeeding is an important duty that they have to perform for their young ones. But what happens if that activity gives you annoyance due to nipple itching?

Most women do have problems with their breasts, specifically their nipples, itching during breastfeeding or nursing their little ones. This article can help you figure out the cause, as we break down some of the common culprits for the itch.

Causes of Itchy Breasts during Nursing

The itch can vary depending on which part of the breast is affected. For some women, it can be the whole breast while for some, it can be just the nipples. Here are the common causes:

1. You may have a skin problem. If you have irritated or dry skin, your tendency to have itchy breasts or nipples can be possible, especially for people who have eczema or a family history of it. Repeatedly nursing your little one could possibly lead to some form of irritation.

If your skin is dry, this could cause the nipple tissue to be easily irritated and may cause the itching to occur. This is nothing much to worry about and it is usually only experienced by those who are new to breastfeeding.

For most women, things can go smoothly after they have given breastfeeding for a long time and their body and skin are used to it. However, if any bacteria gets in, there can sometimes be an infection.

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2. Infections could happen in your breast tissues. There are usually two common infections that cause breast itching:

a. Mastitis – this takes in the form of inflammation and could be awfully painful with shooting, sharp sensations. They may also cause a person to have a fever or high temperature. Usually, antibiotics are prescribed to treat mastitis.

b. Thrush – This is a kind of yeast infection and may change depending on how long it has been around. It usually happens in humid climates and it can be tricky to know where the pain originates from. Thrush can usually be treated with medications for both the baby and the mom.

c. Dermatitis could be the cause. Specifically, contact dermatitis could play the role of causing an itching sensation due to being irritated with their skin. This can usually happen in the nipples and can usually be remedied by safe creams. Consider talking to a dermatologist or your doctor to help you pick one that is safe for your little one.

d. Your let-down reflex may be the cause. For most women, itching can happen because they haven’t fed their baby and their breast milk is already full and ready to be fed. In some cases, the let-down reflex also triggers some slight itching sensation, but this can depend on the case, as all women are different.

e. You may be breastfeeding in the wrong position. If you are breastfeeding your baby in an awkward position, that could also put stress on the nipple or part of the breast, which causes the itchy feeling or sensation.

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To avoid this consider practicing good posture or asking someone else who is breastfeeding (or your doctor) for ideal positioning for the latching and the feeding.

Possible Treatments

Here are some possible treatments and remedies that can work for breast itchiness during nursing:

1. Prescription creams or ointments. These ones contain anti-inflammatory ingredients so that your itchiness can soothe, especially for those with nipple pain as well. They also tend to be antibacterial and antifungal so they can also get rid of any bacterial infection (if present) or prevent it from happening. They are usually safe for your baby as long as you follow the instructions.

2. Try lanolin cream. If you have been breastfeeding your baby for a long time and nipple ointment isn’t doing the job that much, you may want to try lanolin cream as well.

3. Make sure your nipples get dried after nursing. Did you know that infections can sometimes start by not drying your breast nipples thoroughly? This is because any damp environment could be a breeding ground for bacteria.

4. Try heating up. In some cases, having a warm bath could help soothe irritations – breasts and nipples included.

5. Get help with the right nursing position. If you sought help from a lactation consultant, they may help you position you and your baby in the right place for proper breastfeeding so as not to irritate the breast and nipples.

Related post: How to Breastfeed Your Baby in Public Without Shame

Talking to your Doctor

Usually, your doctor can help pinpoint the itchy nipples’ cause depending on the symptoms you give to them. For instance, if you have thrush, both you and your baby need to be examined for that. In some cases, you may need to have the doctor or lactation expert watch you breastfeed so that they can correct some positioning errors.

Here are the signs and symptoms that you should go to the doctor right away:

1. Getting a fever during breast itching. This may be a sign of infection as we talked about above, so it’s best to get to the doctor right away if you feel unexplainably warm and weak during itching.

2. The breasts become swollen and reddish. This also includes the nipple part and can possibly be a sign of infection.

3. Itching becomes very severe. When you feel itching that seems to be like it’s inside your breast, you should talk to a doctor about it.

4. Your baby’s tongue turns white. This may be a case of thrush, which affects both you and your baby due to being a yeast infection.

5. You feel a lump in the breast. This can be a serious case, so it’s best to talk to your physician about it.


In the long run, itchy breasts are best asked your doctor or lactation expert if it gets worse or doesn’t go away. This is especially the case when your nipples start to get painful as well. With topical medicine to manage it as well as proper positioning, you can get rid of itchy breasts in no time.

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