Breastfeeding Tips

Breastfeeding Question: What is a “White Bleb” and What Can I Do About it?

Time to read: 2 min.

What is a white bleb? Not so long ago, you may not have even heard of this. Then, perhaps someone mentioned it to you in passing when you told them about the little white spot you found on your nipple. Well, look no further. We have answers...

What is a White Bleb?

A white bleb is a very small white spot on the nipple tip. It forms in two ways - either when a tiny bit of skin overgrows the opening of the nipple and forms a blockage in the duct, or through the formation of a string of hardened or fattier milk within the duct. This is why it has a white or yellow spot appearance.

White blebs can cause a lot of pain during breastfeeding or pumping for some mums. The pain is usually localised to the area of the white bleb. Other mums do not really feel any discomfort.

White blebs can persist for days or weeks, often until the skin eventually breaks and the hardened milk can escape through feeding or expression.

What Can I Do to Help Remove a White Bleb?

If you are dealing with a white bleb, you are probably eager to get rid of it! Here are a few suggestions.

Before feeding, place a hot, wet face-washer on the white bleb. Do this immediately before breastfeeding or pumping. Be careful not to burn yourself.

Rub the bleb briskly with a clean moist face-washer.

Use hand expression before feeding to try and push out the hardened milk strings. If this doesn’t work, feed your baby or pump as normal. Repeat this method several times a day.

A cotton ball soaked with olive oil and left in your bra next to your nipple with the white bleb can be used to soften the skin and may be helpful.

If the milk plug protrudes from your nipple, gently pull it out with very clean fingers. You can also loosen an edge of the blister by very gently scraping it with your clean fingernail.

In some cases, a lactation consultant or GP will be able to open the skin covering with a sterile needle. This is helpful if you were unable to remove the bleb yourself. They will do this after baby has fed so the bleb will be at its most prominent.

Keep in mind that an antibacterial cream should be used as it heals. Ask your pharmacist for the safest cream to use when breastfeeding.

If you are struggling to keep breastfeeding whilst the bleb is on your nipple, double pump as regularly as your baby would normally feed to maintain your milk supply and prevent mastitis.

What Can I Do to Prevent Recurrent White Blebs?

Many white blebs will resolve themselves. But, for some mums, they are a recurrent problem.

In these situations, a mother may find it helpful to gently abrade (rub) her nipple with a face washer daily in the shower to help prevent recurrence.

Sometimes reducing or removing saturated fats from your diet can help recurrent white blebs, as can taking Lecithin supplements. Discuss this with your naturopath first for correct dosage.

If you are having any breastfeeding problems, it is important to always seek help and support from a lactation consultant, your maternal child health nurse or your GP.

For more information and discussion on breastfeeding-related topics read more on our blog and join the conversation on our Medela Australia Facebook page.