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What Causes Itchy Breasts While Breastfeeding And How To Deal With It

5 min read
What Causes Itchy Breasts While Breastfeeding And How To Deal With It

What Causes Itchy Breasts While Breastfeeding And How To Deal With It

Breastfeeding develops a strong connection between the mother and the baby. It is a clasped thread of love, closeness, bonding, and healthy growth and development. The first-time mothers experience many issues when they start nursing, the itching in nipples, or the breast area, being the common one. This, however, is not the real problem, though, but it does hinder the process of breastfeeding. The mother’s milk is significant for the nourishment of the baby. You have to make sure your baby is getting enough breastmilk. Therefore any interferences with breastfeeding should be solved instantly.
Going ahead, we will get an insight into the real causes behind itchy breasts when to consult a doctor for the same, its treatment, and prevention.

What Causes Itchy Breasts In Breastfeeding Mothers?

Itchy breasts are one of the common and disturbing problems that can hamper the breastfeeding flow. It causes problems both for the mother and the baby. Few reasons for the breasts to get itchy while nursing is listed as under:

1. Thrush:

Thrust (nipples getting affected by a specific fungus and referred to as Candida), does no harm. Thrust can be found in any part of the body, yet this fungus can thrive in the damp body parts, especially around the nipples. It is a major cause of itchy breasts in nursing mothers. The following symptoms characterize it:

  • The yeast tends to affect the nipples and the region around it as they stay damp.
  • The itchiness goes along with a burning feeling post the nursing session.
  • Breast tissues can experience the pain as well.
  • The best way to check thrush is by checking the tongue of the baby, in case found with a white layer, there are probable chances of it being thrush.

2. Mastitis:

Mastitis, or that is also referred to as breast engorgement, cause when the milk gets retained as the bacteria enter these ducts due to the nipple being cracked that infects the ducts as well as the tissues. The following symptoms characterize it:

  • Swelling of breasts accompanied by soreness and itchiness
  • The breast tissue starts becoming red and inflamed.

3. Eczema:

Eczema, which tends to cause burning or redness in the skin, also affects the nipples and the breast skin. A class of eczema, also known as dermatitis, happens due to persistent skin chafing that can greatly impact the breasts as well due to repetitive sessions of breastfeeding. The following symptoms can characterize it:

  • It makes the skin dry and increases sensitivity.
  • The itching pattern is severe and becomes worse if one itches more.
  • The skin becomes parched and peels off on the areola or the nipples.
  • This condition does not get transmitted through.

4. Stretch marks:

Since the breasts are loaded with milk while breastfeeding, the skin surrounding these parts starts to expand and result in stretch marks, which cause itchiness. The following symptoms can characterize it:

  • The breasts have a visible pink line formation.
  • The skin becomes dry and brings about irritation. (applying a good moisturizer helps in this context 

5. Skin Infection:

Skin infections can even cause itchiness. Some examples of skin infections that cause itchy breasts are the ringworms and scabies. It can be characterized by the following symptoms:

  • The skin near the nipple shows signs of red lines and rashes, which is an indication for scabies.
  • Ringworms are a kind of infection that is caused by fungus and results in circular looking rashes that are found in the damp body portions, majorly found in the skin beneath the breasts area.

When To See A Doctor For Itchy Breasts?

When To See A Doctor For Itchy Breasts

When To See A Doctor For Itchy Breasts

Itchy breasts are the common issues that are faced by most of the pregnant women. There are several tips to soothe the itchy breast during pregnancy. Most of the time, itchy breasts get cured with time, but in some instances, proper treatment or diagnosis is essential. Some situations which need medical intervention are as below:

  • The itchiness is obstructing the breastfeeding session, leaving the baby hungry, or not able to breastfeed.
  • The pregnant women experience pain with itchy sensation.
  • A yellow liquid or blood being discharged from the nipples.
  • If you are feeling a lump on the feeding area
  • Change in the shape of breasts.

How To Treat Itchy Breasts When Breastfeeding?

The itchy breasts can be treated depending on the condition they are in. In most cases, there is very little interference and can heal on its own. Though, some cases would need medical consultation and some options for treatment of itchy breasts comprise of:

  • Remedial Medication: The medical experts propose some safe medicines that are anti-fungal and do not harm the breastfeeding mothers. These medicines also help in treating ringworms, thrush, scabies, etc.
  • Antibiotics: In case one has any bacterial infection, antibiotics will be recommended that go well with nursing and do not have any negative effects on the baby as well.
  • Creams And Lotions For Dermatitis: The doctor will prescribe lotions and creams that can soothe and control the situation if one experiences eczema.
  • Treating Eczema: Eczema can be treated without any medicines, and it is non-communicable, so there are no threats to the baby.

How To Manage And Prevent Itchy Breasts At Home?

Manage And Prevent Itchy Breasts At Home

Manage And Prevent Itchy Breasts At Home

Itchy breasts are a cause of concern for the mother. It makes them irritated, helpless, and, at times, not able to feed as well. There are, however, ways and means for the prevention of the itchy breasts.
Some of the measures to prevent itchy breasts are as follows:

  • It is important to keep the breasts dry by putting breast pads so that extra milk gets soaked. One can even smear anti-fungal powder under the skin of the breasts so that the area is dry and not open to fungus.
  • Always wipe the breast as well as the nipple after feeding the baby. Another way is by moistening aa soft cloth in warm water and clean the breasts or the nipples. Cleaning also removes the saliva of the baby that can lead to irritation in the skin.
  • The nipples become dry and start cracking if a moisturizer is not applied. It is ideal for keeping the nipples clean and then dab moisturizer over it.
  •  Wear loose clothes so that the skin can breathe through as tight-fitting clothes will trap moisture leading to skin irritation. It is always advisable to wear cotton. Likewise, choose the bra during breastfeeding wisely.
  • It is suggested to follow a proper lactation schedule and follow it rigorously as the breasts get used to draining the milk on time and even helps in the prevention of milk accumulation and engorgement of the breasts.
  • It is also important to wean off the baby slowly so that the milk does not get accumulated in the breasts.

Following the above steps can help to reduce threats of catching breast infection leading to breast itchiness that results due to skin marks that happen due to stretching of the skin.
Thus, the itchy breasts at the time of lactation could be a botheration which could be caused by parasites or fungal though these circumstances can be treated. Apart from these, the causes behind the itchiness of breasts can easily be cured with appropriate treatment. The baby needs nourishment, and that should not come with any hindrances, so it is important to treat the itchy breast on time. 

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