Many women with cracked and sore nipples often want to know if there is an anything they can apply to their nipples to speed up healing and alleviate pain. Although there are a variety of nipple creams and ointments on the market, the scientific evidence to determine the efficacy and possible side effects for both the mother and baby is limited. Mothers need to be cautious in deciding the correct nipple creams or ointments.
The most effective products are those which promote moist wound healing by providing a semi-permeable moisture barrier to cover the mother's nipple and areola, preventing evaporation and drying. The moisture barrier may be an emollient or semi-occlusive dressing but does not include oil or petroleum products, warm compresses or wet or soiled breast pads. Occlusive dressings, such as petroleum products, create a non-air permeable barrier and should be avoided as they are not effective at creating a moist wound environment.
Click here for more information on Healing Sore & Cracked Nipples.
PETROLEUM AND WAX BASED OINTMENTS
Occlusive barriers, such as petroleum jelly or petrolatum (Vaseline), waxes (Cetearyl Alcohol, Stearic Acid) and butters (Cocoa Butter, Shea Butter) are not recommended as they block the sebaceous and montgomery glands of the areola and nipple and studies have shown them to cause irritation. These barriers reduce tissue oxygenation which delays wound healing and may interfere with normal lubrication or cause contact dermatitis.
Studies have shown that the use of oils (mineral oil or paraffinum liquidum, vegetable oils, vitamin E) do not encourage wound healing. Dry or cracked skin does not lack oil, it lacks moisture. The oils simply remain on the surface of the skin and are absorbed into the fabric of a nursing pad or bra. These barriers reduce tissue oxygenation which delays wound healing and may interfere with normal lubrication or cause contact dermatitis.
The majority of studies were conducted with lanolin for nipple repair and in most cases, has found to be the most effective method for the treatment of sore and cracked nipples as it creates a semi-permeable barrier on the surface of the skin, encouraging moist wound healing.
May be used for Stage 2 and 3 nipple trauma but are not often prescribed as they can cause skin reactions, increase the risk of bacterial resistance and may be harmful to the baby if ingested. Local anesthetics may cause allergies, and interfere with let-down.
Thanks for reading. If you have any questions or queries please feel free to leave a comment below. For more tips and advice on maternity skin care check out the Expert Advice section of the Natralogic website.
All the best
Lauren Lamont - Natralogic Founder
MSc Chemistry, Dip.Cos.Sci (SA)