Nipple Infections

Nipple Infections

Nipple Infections


The most common reason for nipple pain is due to a baby not attaching well to your breast. See Sore Nipples article

Nipple infection, as a possible cause of nipple pain, must be considered especially when:

  • a breastfeeding mother experiences nipple pain beyond the first week or after a period of comfortable feeding
  • her baby is attaching well to her breast
  • other causes of nipple pain/trauma have been ruled out (eg tongue-tie).

About 10% of breastfeeding mothers experience nipple/breast pain (not associated with breast redness or fever) that is often described as one or more of the following: ‘burning’, ‘stabbing’, ‘knife-like’, ‘shooting’, ’sharp’.

Sometimes it can be difficult to determine what bug is causing the nipple pain as different bugs can cause similar signs and symptoms. Is it:

  • thrush (ie due to the bug Candida albicans) or
  • a bacterial infection (ie due to the bug Staphylococcus aureus), or
  • is it due to multiple bugs?

Signs of infection on the nipples may include:

  • cracks
  • redness
  • shiny areas
  • pus-like fluid or clear fluid coming from the nipple

There may be no outward signs.

 Symptoms may include:

  • sore nipples that are extremely sensitive (especially to light touch)
  • itching
  • knife-like or burning pain
  • deep pain or throbbing within the breast
  • pain sometimes extending to the arm or back
  • pain often beginning during a feed and staying for some time afterwards.

If you have any of these signs or symptoms, see your medical adviser for diagnosis and treatment. One common treatment is a combined antifungal/antibacterial cream. In more severe cases, you may need to take tablets. Your medical adviser will also exclude other causes of similar symptoms to infections, such as dermatitis.

Recommended treatment for thrush click here 

Nipple cream is also worth having on hand for prevention.