Read below about cracked nipples, including causes and common questions. Or get a personalized analysis of your cracked nipples from our A.I. health assistant. At Buoy, we build tools that help you know what’s wrong right now and how to get the right care.

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A.I. Health Assistant Causes for Cracked Nipples

The list below shows results from the use of our A.I. Health Assistant by Buoy users who experienced cracked nipples. This list does not constitute medical advice.

  1. 1.Allergic Contact Dermatitis of the Chest

    Allergic contact dermatitis is a condition in which the skin becomes irritated and inflamed following physical contact with an allergen. Common products known to cause allergic dermatitis include plants, metals, soap, fragrance, and cosmetics.

    1-2 days

    Top Symptoms:
    chest redness, chest itch, scabbed area of the chest
    Symptoms that always occur with allergic contact dermatitis of the chest:
    chest redness

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  2. 2.Breast Infection (Mastitis)

    Mastitis is an infection of the breast tissue that results in breast pain, swelling, warmth and redness of the breast. Mastitis most commonly affects women who are breast-feeding (lactation mastitis), although sometimes this condition can occur in women who aren't breast-feeding.

    2-3 weeks with treatment

    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, nausea, breast pain, signs of breast inflammation like redness, swelling or fever, fever
    Symptoms that always occur with breast infection (mastitis):
    breast pain, signs of breast inflammation like redness, swelling or fever
    Primary care doctor

FAQs About Cracked Nipples

Here are some frequently asked questions about cracked nipples.

Why do I have cracked nippled while breastfeeding?

Nipple injury usually is due to incorrect breastfeeding technique, particularly poor position or latch-on. Other factors may include harsh breast cleansing, use of potentially irritating products, and biting by an older infant. In additional, skin conditions such as dermatitis as well as bacterial or fungal ifnections are more common in women who are breastfeeding or lactating. Any of these conditions can lead to cracked, painful, or bleeding nipples.

Why I do have cracked nipples with pus?

If you have cracked nipples with pus, it is very likely that you have an infection in the breast tissue or milk ducts. Women who are lactating or breast feeding are at higher risk for infection of the nipple or breast, but anyone can get a breast infection. The presence of pus suggests a bacterial infection, which is also common among women who are breast feeding or lacating. Cracking of the nipples may be a symptom of the infection. It is also possile that the nipples were cracked from breastfeeding or other trauma, and then became secondarily infected.

What do cracked nipples mean when I'm not breastfeeding?

Chafing is a common cause of cracked or bleeding nipples in men, espeically men who participate in endurance sports. Chafing of the nipple can occur with women as well. Other possible causes of cracked nipples include benign conditions of the breast, such as eczema, dermatitis caused by contact irritation or radiation, and nipple adenoma (a benign cell proliferation beneath the nipple). However cracked nipples can also be a sign of breast cancer (Paget disease of the breast) or skin cancers (such as squamous carcinoma of the epidermis, basal cell carcinoma, and superficial spreading malignant melanoma).

Can I still breastfeed with cracked nipples?

Most doctors recommend continugin to breast feed with cracked nipples, as as long as the pain is tolerable. If one nipple is cracked, it is possible to breast feed on the other side to give the cracked nipple a change to heal. It is also possible to pump breast milk while the nipples heal, and then continue breastfeeding. Typically, cracked nipples during lacatation and breast feeding indicate there isa problem with infant positioning or latch. Education on proper positioning and attachment of infant may be the best intervention for alleviating nipple pain.

Can cracked nipples become infected?

Yes. The protective barrier of skin is disrupted as nipples become cracked, which increases the susceptibility to infection. It is common for women who are lactating or breastfeeding to experience cracked nipples from improper positioning, improper latch, or possible trauma from biting in older infants. Bacteria in the infants mouth can then enter the breast tissue and cause an infection. It is also possible for women who are not breastfeeding or men to experience cracked nipples that then become secondarily infected. If you suspect you have a nipple infection, seek medical treatment.

Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Cracked Nipples

  • Q.Have you been feeling more tired than usual, lethargic or fatigued despite sleeping a normal amount?
  • Q.Did you suffer from any complications during pregnancy or childbirth?
  • Q.When did you have your most recent child?
  • Q.Are you currently pregnant?

If you've answered yes to one or more of these questions, try our cracked nipples symptom checker to find out more.

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Cracked Nipples Symptom Checker Statistics

  • People who have experienced cracked nipples have also experienced:

    • 7% Nipple Ulcer
    • 6% Bloody Vaginal Discharge
    • 5% Breast Pain
  • People who have experienced cracked nipples were most often matched with:

    • 80% Breast Infection (Mastitis)
    • 20% Allergic Contact Dermatitis of the Chest
  • Source: Aggregated and anonymized results from visits to the Buoy AI health assistant (check it out by clicking on “Take Quiz”).

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