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The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding Amy Spangler's Breastfeeding: A Parents Guide
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Creams and Ointments For Sore Nipples
By Stephanie Dupras

The best ointment for sore nipples is readily available and free of charge: breast milk! Express a few drops of milk onto your nipples after feeding, and let them air dry before covering them. If your nipples are damaged, moist healing may help.

However, studies have shown that most nipple creams and ointments are ineffective. Some creams and ointments marketed for nipple use are actually not suitable for this use.

Good choices
An appropriate ointment — though its effectiveness has not been proven — is hypoallergenic anhydrous lanolin such as PureLan or Lansinoh. If you feel you need to apply an ointment, use only the purest available hypoallergenic anhydrous lanolin. It should be applied in very small amounts. Too much of a good thing is good for nothing. Less is better!

Bad choices
Creams and ointments containing any of the following ingredients are not appropriate for use on your nipples.

Vitamin E These ointments are high-toxicity for baby; also, they seal from the outside in.

Petroleum These products include Vaseline™, mineral oil, baby oil, cocoa butter, Bag Balm® and dimethicone. These products inhibit skin respiration, prevent healing and absorption of essential fatty acids.


Nut oils Creams with nut oils and derivatives such as Massé cream can be potential allergens.

A&D® ointment

Oils Oils do not provide moisture to the wound and may actually prevent moist healing.

Tea tree oil (melaleuca alternifolia) Tea tree oil is toxic to babies, even in very small quantities (<5ml).

Any product that needs to be washed off before feeding the baby Washing irritates the nipples and removes their natural, protective lubrication.

© Stephanie Dupras

Stephanie Dupras, IBCLC, RLC, is a private practice registered lactation consultant, doula, student midwife and mother of three. Her philosophy of care advocates values such as demedicalizing birth, breastfeeding and attachment parenting. Visit her on the web at

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