Scab on the Nipple
A scab on the nipple can appear due to the break in the skin, which can result due to breastfeeding or friction from clothing or any other reason.
Just like a break in the skin in any part of the body, the platelets in the blood along with protein fibrin, start the clotting process, similar process happens with skin on the nipple.
The clot dries up and hardens to form a scab. The main role of the scab is to prevent the germ from infecting the area around the cut. This allows the cells underneath to heal.
Causes of Scabs on the Nipple
There are numerous reasons which can cause the nipple to scab.
Breastfeeding: Regular breastfeeding lead to cracks in the nipple. A study found 32 percent of women reported cracked nipples due to breastfeeding.(1)
Also, pain in the nipples is seen in some females as they get used to breastfeeding. The discomfort continues if the baby:
- Doesn’t latch properly
- Is poorly positioned
- Is suffering from anatomical issues such as tongue-tie
- As the discomfort continues the nipple crack and bleed. This can cause scab on it.
- If you see scabs and experience a lot of pain, consult a doctor for the same.
Sports: Those who participate in sports activities have a constant motion of the sports bra or the clothing rubbing against the nipple. This can lead to chaffing, which could lead to a scab.
Nipple Pain: Pain in the nipples is very common and can be due to allergies or skin irritation.
Breastfeeding is one of the main causes of nipple pain. Sometimes the pain is so severe that it can lead to nipple bleed and scabbing.
Eczema: This condition is characterized by a scaly and itchy rash on the part of the skin it occurs. In the breast, it occurs in the areola which is an area of the dark skin around the nipple. It occurs due to reaction to laundry, detergents, and certain other potential irritants.
It is also referred to as atopic dermatitis.
Paget’s Disease: If there is redness soreness or flakiness around the skin, it could be Paget’s disease. The presentation of the disease is similar to eczema, but the treatment is different.
It is an uncommon form of breast cancer.
Physical Injuries: There are a few activities such as sex or any injury which can irritate or injure the nipple.
Burns: Going topless on tanning beds or exposing the body to the sun for a long period of time can burn the nipples and cause sunburn. This may lead to peeling or scabbing.
Treatment For Scabs On The Nipples
There are numerous nerve endings in the nipple and the areola and the skin over it is also very delicate.
As mentioned above, a number of activities can result in nipple irritation, bleeding and scabbing.
If there is a lot of discomfort with nipple pain and scabbing it is always good to get consulted by a healthcare physician.
In the case of sports injuries, applying a lubricant such as petroleum jelly or anti-chafe cream can protect the nipple from chafing due to the clothing rubbing against it.
Wearing a breathable fabric can also help.
Atopic dermatitis which occurs on the areola can be controlled by identifying and removing the cause. Using hypo allergic detergents and soap which do not contain any dyes or perfumes can help. Steroids creams are also available which helps in successfully clearing out the condition.
If you find a nipple scab with no apparent reason it is advisable to consult a doctor. He would ensure an effective treatment.
How To Prevent Nipple Scabs?
As breastfeeding is the most common cause of nipple scabs, it is important to seek help with breastfeeding issues right away. This can help prevent them.
- To keep the nipples crack free:
- Practice hand washing to prevent infection
- Keep the breast clean and dry
- Apply purified lanolin on the nipples
- Those not breastfeeding should take the following measures to prevent scabbing of the nipples:
- Avoid burning the skin in tanning beds
- Keep the breast clean and dry
- Wear breathable clothing or clothes with a proper fit
Consult a doctor if there is any rash or scab on the nipple.