Eczema of the breast may effect the nipple, areolae or the surrounding skin of the breast.  It can cause considerable discomfort and pain among the women, especially those nursing mothers during breastfeeding. Treatment approaches are almost similar to other type of eczema, but few precautions should be taken for nursing mothers.

Nipple Eczema is of the moist type. You may experience a burning, itching, and painful especially while breastfeeding. Oozing, crusting, swelling and painful fissuring  is frequently seen in breastfeeding mothers. Some experts agree that approximately 50% of breastfeeding women who developed nipple and areola eczema have previous history of eczema and the other 50% developed it as a contact dermatitis following introduction of solids to the infant’s diet. Usually both nipples are involved, sometime may involve only  one breast and resolves with in a few weeks with proper care. If the Nipple Eczema has persisted for more than 3 months  and especially if  it is unilateral( involving only one breast), you should immediately contact your doctor. Your doctor may perform a biopsy to rule out the possibility of Paget’s disease and other conditions of the breast.

How is Nipple Eczema treated

Low potency steroids are the first line of treatment for nipple eczema. Ointments are preferred over creams as they are well absorbed faster before your next breast feeding period. If the condition is severe your doctor may prescribed potent steroids, potent steroids must never be used more then 10 days. In some severe cases Intralesional corticosteroids are also being prescribed. If the nipple is infected your doctor may prescribe some antibiotics along with steroids ointments.

To apply, first allow your nipple to dry after your breastfeeding, then apply the ointment sparingly over your nipple. You don’t need to  rinse the ointment  off your breast in the next feed if your next breastfeed time  is more then 3 hours or so, as ointments are absorbed good. If you need to rinse before feed,  just gently rinse with water. Don’t use soaps as it may sometime be irritating.

Things you should know
  • Try to find out the possible precipitating allergens or irritants and avoid it completely
  • Avoid shampoos and soaps on the nipples, use normal water and bare hands to wash.
  • Avoid washing frequently, the more you wash the worst it gets.
  • Avoid use of any cosmetic products.
  • Avoid hot showers.
  • Use moisturizing creams on your nipple after bath.
  • Protect the area from friction from clothing, always wear soft cotton bras.
  • Never use warm tea bags on nipples or dry with hairdryer.

If you have any question regarding Nipple Eczema feel free to ask at out Skin Care Advice Forum