Sore nipples are common with breastfeeding.
But breastfeeding should not hurt. And the skin on your nipple should not break down any more than the skin anywhere on your body should break down. Mild soreness or sensitivity is fairly common for the first 1or 2 weeks of breastfeeding. Then it should go away.
If latching is painful or your nipples or areolas feel bruised, it's likely related to an incorrect latch-on process or ineffective sucking. It may be a problem with your baby's latch or sucking if your nipples become very red, raw, blistered, or cracked. A latch or sucking problem or a structural issue in the baby's mouth might result in nipples that look creased or turn white at the end of feedings.
When nipples get red, burn, or feel very sore after weeks or months of pain-free breastfeeding, it may be due to an allergic reaction or type of infection. A type of yeast infection called thrush may appear as white patches in the baby's mouth. Or it may show up as a bright red diaper rash. If your baby has thrush, it can be transferred to your nipples. Certain medicines are needed to treat yeast and other infections or allergic reactions. Contact both your healthcare provider and your baby's healthcare provider for more information and treatment.
Keep your nipples hydrated by using coconut oil, petroleum jelly, lanolin, or your own breastmilk.
Wear a loose-fitting bra and clothes.
Change nursing pads often to keep them clean and dry.
Use only a mild soap and water to clean your breasts and nipples.
Change positions each time you nurse.
Certain creams or dressings may promote healing. Others can actually cause more damage. These should be used carefully under the supervision of a healthcare provider. Also, don't use any harsh soaps or chemicals that might result in drying the nipples. This may lead to cracking of the skin. It's also important to prevent excessive moisture by not using plastic-backed nursing pads.
Finding the cause of sore nipples can be hard. Talk with your healthcare provider or a lactation consultant for an evaluation and suggestions on how to resolve the problem.