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To prevent candidiasis, use washable cotton breast pads instead of plastic-backed disposable brands; change and wash them, as well as your bra, frequently. In addition, keep the area as dry as possible by exposing your breasts to air in between feedings.
“Hold a hair dryer, placed on the cool setting, approximately 10 inches from your breasts to dry the area before putting your bra back on,” Valentine suggests. Also avoid using soap on your breasts and rubbing harshly when washing or drying them; this can lead to cracked nipples, which in turn can set the stage for problems.
To soothe sore nipples, whether caused by a poor latch or candidiasis, Newman recommends using what he calls all-purpose nipple ointment. Calendula ointment, grapefruit seed extract or even olive oil may also be comforting. “Anything greasy can help,” Newman explains.
If you have candidiasis, it also may be helpful to take a lactose-free acidophilus supplement two or three times a day.
Vasospasm of the nipples is caused by excessive blood-vessel constriction due to temperature change. Symptoms include burning or throbbing pain and nipples that turn white immediately after feeding. The condition needs to be medically managed, usually with oral medications that are safe for nursing babies.
Chronic nipple pain can signal that you’re pregnant. If the pain lasts well after a feeding, you may want to take a pregnancy test.
Some women worry that nipple pain may be caused by breast cancer, but this is extremely rare. “Pain is usually a late symptom of breast cancer,” says Newman, “and there would be other signs such as a lump or inflammation.” Still, see your doctor if your symptoms are isolated to one breast and do not clear up with regular treatment.
Breastfeeding expert Jack Newman, M.D., recommends using all-purpose nipple ointment for sore nipples. Your doctor will need to write you a prescription for it; since the product isn’t available commercially, your pharmacy must compound it using the following ingredients:
Mupirocin 2 percent ointment (not cream): 15 grams Betamethasone 0.1 percent ointment (not cream): 15 grams Miconazole powder: In an amount sufficient that the final concentration is 2 percent miconazole