Experiencing burning in the breasts during breastfeeding or shortly after is not uncommon.

But don’t confuse this with actual pain in the breast. It’s also not the same as soreness.

So what causes burning in the breasts and nipples while you’re breastfeeding your baby?

“I believe you are referring to what is known as the ‘milk letdown reflex,’ or simply ‘letdown,'” says Randy Fink, MD, Director of the Center of Excellence for Obstetrics & Gynecology in Miami, FL, what causes a woman’s breasts to have a burning sensation as a result of breastfeeding.

“Suckling, or nipple stimulation, or even just the sound of the baby crying, may stimulate the hormone that causes milk production (prolactin).

“This hormone causes the breast glands to produce milk, and can sometimes be described as a burning deep within.”

Is there anything a woman can do to relieve this very benign reason for burning in the breasts related to breastfeeding?

Dr. Fink explains: “One soothing act for the burning sensation to apply a cool or cold cabbage leaf to the breast.

“There is a natural component absorbed through the skin which has an anti-inflammatory property, and the cool temperature of the leaf is soothing.

“We also use this remedy for those who suffer with frequent blocked ducts and general breast pain from breastfeeding.”

“Letdown” isn’t the only cause, however, of burning breasts/nipples related to breastfeeding. Another culprit to keep an eye out for is a fungal infection caused by candida albacans.

In addition to the burning, other symptoms might be nipples that are itchy, pink or crusty.

This fungal infection may also be referred to as “thrush,” and can affect your baby as well.

The candida albacans fungus loves to make a home in warm, dark, moist areas, and the nipples of a breastfeeding woman can become attractive to this fungus. So can the dark, warm, moist insides of a baby’s mouth.

Treatment for this involves medications or antifungal creams. However, a woman need not cease breastfeeding during candida albacans treatment.

To help prevent burning in the breasts/nipples during breastfeeding:

You should keep your breasts dry and exposed to the air after feeding. Make a point of exposing them to the sun several minutes per day, one or two times per day.

Do not use plastic-lined breast pads, as these can trap leaked milk. After each feeding, change the pads.

Always wear clean bras that are 100 percent cotton, and they are to be washed in hot water every day.

Boil the milk pump parts in water every day for five minutes, after using a bleach solution to wash them – every day.

Nipple and breast burning do not have to be a part of breastfeeding your baby.

Creating an environment where the very best of medicine and gentle gynecology are practiced and where patients come first has always been Dr. Fink’s goal.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.