Nipple blanching treatment while breastfeeding

By Me & Qi
Jul 14, 2021

What is nipple blanching?

Nipple blanching is when part of the nipple, typically the tip, turns white after breastfeeding.

It is caused by a lack of blood in the area, often due to a blood vessel vasospasm (when the blood vessel contracts and restricts the blood flow). The color will return to normal after blood circulation is restored, typically within a few minutes.

If you have nipple blanching without any associated pain, it isn't a big issue so you shouldn't worry too much about it.

If your nipple blanching causes pain, you need to find the underlying reason (see the possibilities below) and treat it.

The pain associated with nipple blanching is sometimes described as "shooting", "throbbing", "sharp" or "burning". It can range from mild to very severe. The pain appears when the nipple is whitened or right after the blood circulation returns to the nipples.

Causes and treatment of nipple blanching

Cause 1: Blanching due to bad latching or suckling

This is the most common reason. You know this is the cause if the blanching occurs during or immediately after pulling the nipple out of the baby's mouth.

It's also commonly associated with a change in your nipple shape; it becomes flattened or pointed.

When this is the cause, the pain often comes a few seconds to a few minutes after blanching. This is when the blood flows back to the nipple. The pain often lasts a short moment, between a few seconds to a few minutes.

Most commonly, the exact cause is improper latching. Improper latching causes your nipple to be in an awkward position in your baby's mouth, which blocks some of your blood vessels.

The baby's mouth has to cover the entire nipple and much of the areola, as shown in picture.

Proper baby latching

Proper baby latching

If your baby doesn't latch properly try a different nursing position. Your baby might have not latched properly simply because they were uncomfortable.

It can also be because your milk flow is too strong. When that's the case, to reduce the flow your baby's mouth has to pinch your nipple. 

Inversely, it can also be because your milk flow is too weak. When that's the case your baby feels compelled to suckle very strongly on your nipples. If that's your case, you might want to consider drinking Unblock Nursing Tea. Its herbal ingredients can help remove blockages in your milk ducts and restore a normal milk flow.

More rarely it could be because your baby suffers from a tongue-tie. This is when the bottom of the tongue is tied to the floor of the mouth, which restricts the tongue's range of motion. This causes difficulty for your baby to latch onto your nipple properly. If you suspect your baby suffers from a tongue-tie, consult your pediatrician.

Cause 2: Cold temperature on the nipple or the breast

If this is the cause, the blanching occurs when your nipple is exposed to cold temperature.

When this is the cause, the duration of the blanching and the pain is typically longer, often for up to a few minutes.

This can occur when the nipple is exposed to cold temperature right after nursing. If you nurse outdoor for instance.

This is easily avoidable by avoiding outdoor nursing or nursing in cold environments. And if you must do so, quickly cover your breasts and nipples with warm clothing straight after nursing.

It can also happen when you step out of a hot bath or shower. Again the easy solution is to avoid letting your breasts be exposed to strong temperature differences. So make sure to quickly dry and cover them after stepping out of the shower!

Another situation when this can happen is when you pump in a room with cold temperature. When you pump your breasts are more exposed to the environmental temperature than when you breastfeed. Always ensure to pump in a warm and comfortable environment.

Reduce your sensitivity to cold with a strengthening ​herbal tea

In order to get nipple blanching due to cold, your body needs to be sensitive to cold in the first place. This can happen if you lack energy and your immune system is somewhat depressed. This is normal after birth-giving since you used so much energy and likely suffered massive blood loss.

To help you recover postpartum and strengthen your immune system, we recommend Milk Boost Tea.

It's inspired by traditional medicinal recipes used for more than 1,500 years by Chinese women to recover from birth-giving. It contain many postpartum recovery herbs such as Dong Quai, Cinnamon or Longan among others. 

Milk Boost Tea to boost milk supply

Milk Boost Tea is a herbal tea that can help you recover postpartum

Cause 3: Nipple fissures or thrushes

Nipple fissures or thrushes can create vasospasms that cause nipple blanching. Healing those fissures or thrushes can therefore help prevent vasospasms.

To heal fissures or thrushes, we recommend the following steps:

  1. Apply nipple cream on the nipple fissures so as to reduce the pain during breastfeeding
  2. Use a nipple shield. It prevents the baby from suckling directly on the damaged nipple.
  3. Drink Unblock Nursing Tea. It is full of "cooling" herbs such as dandelions, honeysuckle flowers or chrysanthemum flowers. It will help reduce the risk of infections and inflammations.
  4. Avoid tight bras and clothing. It causes friction which may prevent healing. Instead wear light but warm coton breastfeeding bras that can allow your nipples to breathe.
  5. Do not overclean your nipples and breasts as some oil that is secreted by our own body acts as a natural healing cream.

Cause 4: Emotional stress

There is a well documented relationship between emotional stress and the vasospasms that cause nipple blanching. This is because stress has a big impact on blood flow which in turn will put pressure on the blood vessels.

Dealing with emotional stress is, of course, easier said than done. It always helps to have as much support around you as possible to help you care for the baby. Sport also helps, such as yoga or soft running. 

Milk Boost Tea might help too because of its capacity to help you recover from birth-giving. After giving birth, you typically suffer from fatigue and a big lack of energy, which are important contributing factors to stress. If you recover your energy, you'll deal with stress better and it won't affect you as much.

Cause 5: Substances to avoid

The following substances are believed to cause the vasospasms behind nipple blanching, or at least be aggravating factors:

  • Pills for weight control
  • Medicine against common cold that containing pseudoephedrine, phenylephrine or beta blockers
  • Birth control pill containing estrogen
  • Any drug that is vasoconstrictive​​

Managing pain associated with nipple blanching

Here is what you can do to deal with the severe pain that's caused by vasospasms and Raynaud's:

  • Try painkillers but please bear in mind that it only relieves the pain but doesn't cure the underlying cause:
    • Use painkillers such as Ibuprofen or Tylenol to manage pain. Ibuprofen and Tylenol are both considered safe during breastfeeding.
    • Nifedipine at small doses
  • Try Unblock Nursing Tea if the issue is caused by bad latching (cause 1) or nipple fissures/thrushes (cause 3)
  • Try Milk Boost Tea if the issue is caused by exposure to cold (cause 2) or emotional stress (cause 4)

Article tags: Breastfeeding and maternity