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What does a cracked nipple look like?

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
I've noticed that my left nipple--which is much more sore/sensitive/painful than my right--looks as though the different "sections" of nipple have separated a bit. I don't know quite how to describe this--it doesn't look like the cracks in your lips when, say, your lips are chapped. But, you know how the nipple looks like it's made up of little circular or oblong sections pushed really closely together (it has kind of a "bumpy" look)? The gaps between the sections on that side seem much wider and deeper than on the other side and than they used to be before I started nursng--my dh says they look like crevices. Does that make sense? There's no bleeding or anything. I've looked for photos of cracked nipples online, and I can't find anything. If anyone has any insight, I'd appreciate it. I air my nipples out all day (no shirts here for 6 weeks) and I'm not gunking them up with a lot of ointments--just olive oil occassionally at night if the nipple seems REALLY dry--so I'm not sure there'd be anything to do about it anyway.
post #2 of 13
My cracked nipple looked like my nipple had a canyon in the middle if that makes sense. First I had a scab and when that came off, it was just a huge canyon through the nipple. My nipple was in two. The other side just had a little crack on one edge. It almost looked like someone cut my nipple with a knife. Watch out for thrush. It is common to get with cracked nipples. You may want to take probiotics to ward it off. I got thrush and it delayed the healing and was very painful. Good luck. I know how much cracked nipples hurt but it will heal.

post #3 of 13
sounds like a crack to me (both my nips looked like this for the first 5 weeks). honestly, no matter what i put on them (lanolin, motherlove nipple cream, polysporin) and no matter how i treated them (airing them out, no bras/shirts, warm, moist compresses, etc.) they took their own time to heal. sure, all that stuff was comforting to me emotionally, but physically, i don't think it made a difference.

some women have great success with ointments and whatnot, and some don't. i know you've been having quite a time with soreness, thrush, etc. (been reading your other posts), and i think you're doing an awesome job, mama! you might want to try some of the suggested crack treatments, but then again, you may want to just leave it alone and let it heal on its own. it will, over time.

hang in there!
post #4 of 13
Thread Starter 
In some ways, it would be a huge relief it that was what it was (although it's a few cracks then, not just one--eek!). Because I've had this residual pain, we keep treating for thrush but I'm just not convinced I have it anymore. My nipples are most sensitive when something brushes them (especially dd's flailing arms...she's quite a grabber!) and when she latches on. It's not horrifically painful when she nurses (although maybe that's just in comparison to how it was!), but it feels a little pinchy/burny and usually gets worse as she goes.

I put in a call to the LC I was seeing, but I don't know if she'll be able to tell over the phone, and there's no way I'm paying for an hour appointment and schlepping all the way to her just to hear her say "Yup. That's a crack."
post #5 of 13
Thread Starter 
By the way, how long does it take cracked nipples to heal, usually?
post #6 of 13
Mine looked like that for the first eight weeks, it actually opened up so bad it looked like part of it was missing. My DD was tongue tied though. I used All Purpose Nipple Ointment - APNO (rx from a doc who was IBCLC who clipped the tongue tie for me) to help clear it up.
post #7 of 13
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by turtlewomyn
Mine looked like that for the first eight weeks, it actually opened up so bad it looked like part of it was missing.
This is true of mine, too--both sides. I've been so preoccupied with thrush that it didn't even occur to me that it might be a problem.
post #8 of 13
Sounds like it. Mine looked like the nipple was almost detached about 1/4- 1/3 of the way around. Mine took a few weeks to heal- maybe 2-3? But I was nursing all that time so I don't know when that stopped making it worse.

post #9 of 13
Mine took almost a month to heal. I remember that I read it could take taht long and I just cried. But it got progressively better. The entire month was not horrible. It really does get better. I really feel for you because I know just how painful and exhausting, physically and emotionally this is. But I promise you that it gets better. You will enjoy nursing and it will be painless before you know it. You're doing great for sticking with it. Good luck.

post #10 of 13
Thread Starter 
The left one looks like it's getting worse. Any thoughts on what to do? I'm no longer nursing dd in the position that we've been using for the last few weeks, but changing positions is very hard for me (I've rigged up some pillows so that she's still horizontal, the way she is in our 'regular' cross-cradle hold, but she's coming at the breast from the other side). I spoke to two LLL leaders. One recommended just changing positions, airing my breasts, and getting a little sunlight on them--no ointments, etc. The other suggestions nursing only one side for 48 hours to let the other side heal (while pumping a bit on the healing side), then switching. But the first LLL leader pointed out that I would be seriously messing with my supply if I did that, and that I might create a host of other problems--engorgement, supply issues, etc.

I'm going with the first approach for now, but really frustrated that the left side seems to be getting worse. The whole thing is cracked into little sections, and there's a big "canyon" on one side. The other side just has the canyon, and doesn't hurt nearly as much.
post #11 of 13
My best advice is:

do everything in your power to figure out and correct the problem
keep nursing (on both sides)
do what feels good- ice, warm, clothes, no clothes, lanolin, no lanolin - listen to your body

drink plenty to stay hydrated.
take vitamin c to help your body.

It gets better, I promise!

post #12 of 13
I did nurse on the more painful side a lot less for a day or two. I figured that I needed to get over the hump and then I'd make sure that my supply was ok, if that makes sense. I hand expressed when I got full on the one side and only nursed her on it 1 or two times in a two day period wehn it was really bad. It let it heal a little and I figure that a day or two wouldn't effect my supply too much. After that day or two, I really made sure to nurse on both sides. I did switch to the football hold and that helped some. Also, I took ibuprofin a few times to deal with the pain. Not ideal, but better that than use formula. And I used home made All Purpose Nipple Ointment. I mixed neosporin, monistat cream, and hydrocortisone cream. It really helped. I wiped it off before my dd nursed. Again not ideal, but I really was hurting and did what I had to do to get through a tough time and preserve our bfing relationship.

post #13 of 13
I also think the Kellymom website has some good tips on cracked nipples. Dip it in saltwater as well after nursing, then let them air. I seem to remember that helped me, along with the APNO.
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