Coconut oil for sore and cracked nipples


eMediNexus    21 April 2018

Sore, painful and cracked nipples are a common problem during pregnancy. Nipple pain or infection during breastfeeding can often lead to cessation of exclusive breastfeeding.1 Abrasions during feeding and tight clothing can often lead to sore nipples. Cracks in the skin heighten the likelihood of nipple infection.2

Several treatment options are available to treat dry, cracked and sore nipples. Topical preparations are often used to manage this condition. Topical preparations should be chosen only after considering their impact on the nipple skin and the baby. Products containing petrolatum can potentially interfere with skin respiration and can prolong nipple soreness and should therefore be avoided. Alcohol containing products can further dry out the nipples which are already dry and cracked. It should also be avoided.3 Soap also dries out the nipples.4

Coconut oil, on the contrary, seems to be an effective and safe choice for the management of dry, sore and cracked nipples during breastfeeding. Virgin coconut oil is often used in Ayurvedic medicine for skin ailments.5 It is known to have antifungal and antibacterial properties.6 Positive outcomes have been reported on sore nipples with the use coconut oil.5 Topical application of coconut oil forms a chemical barrier on skin to protect and heal infections. It also moisturizes and softens dry skin. It is known to repair cracked, sore, dry nipples from nursing.7

Virgin coconut oil has a broad spectrum of activity against S. aureus, fungi, and viruses. It is known to be associated with faster would healing in comparison with untreated wounds. This could be attributed to the wide array of biologically active ingredients found in coconut oil. Virgin coconut oil has also been found to be better than olive oil in eliminating S. aureus from adult skin with atopic dermatitis.5 As a treatment for dry skin conditions, extra virgin coconut oil is effective and safe when used as a moisturizer, with no adverse reactions.8

Coconut oil can thus be used as a potential agent to cure sore, cracked and painful nipples.


  1. Kent JC, Ashton E, Hardwick CM, et al. Nipple Pain in Breastfeeding Mothers: Incidence, Causes and Treatments. Int J Environ Res Public Health 2015;12(10):12247-63.
  2. Khan T. Common Breastfeeding Problems, Part 3 of 3: Nipple Pain + Infection. Available from: http://www.familydocs.org/f/14.CME_.Spotlight.JAN_.Breastfeeding.pdf. Accessed on April 19, 2018.
  3. Breastfeeding techniques and devices. In: Counseling the Nursing Mother: A Lactation Consultants Guide. Lauwers J, Shinskie D (eds.).
  4. Lactation and Breastfeeding. Newton ER (ed.). In: Obstetrics: Normal and problem pregnancies. Gabbe SG, Niebyl JR, Simpson JL, et al. (ed).
  5. Walker M. Are There Any Cures for Sore Nipples? Clinical Lactation 2013;4(3), http://dx.doi.org/10.1891/2158-0782.4.3.106.
  6. Buck ML, Amir LH, Donath SM. Topical Treatments Used by Breastfeeding Women to Treat Sore and Damaged Nipples. Clinical Lactation 2015;6(1), http://dx.doi.org/10.1891/2158-0782.6.1.16.
  7. Raj JA, Magesh L. Medicinal Use of Coconut. International Journal of Science and Research 2017;6(6):1898-1900.
  8. Gediya SK, Mistry RB, Patel UK, et al. Herbal Plants: Used as a cosmetics. J Nat Prod Plant Resour. 2011;1(1):24-32.

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