Skip The Lanolin — Here's Why You Should Be Using Coconut Oil For Your Painful Nipples

With all the wonderful feelings that come with breastfeeding, you may encounter a few painful ones, too. A common ailment among breastfeeding moms is nipple pain, and some women swear by natural remedies like coconut oil. You may not be surprised, because it seems like coconut oil is everywhere these days. It’s in your popcorn, in your shampoo, and more people are using it in their everyday cooking. It’s been promoted as a remedy to heal skin, so if you have sore or blistered nipples, you may wonder — can you use coconut oil for nipple pain?

In an interview with Romper, International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) Tera Hamann says that coconut oil is actually what she recommends over lanolin for nipple pain. She says that while lanolin is great for chapped skin, it doesn’t have any healing properties. Coconut oil, on the other hand, is a natural antimicrobial and antifungal, so not only is coconut oil helpful in healing, it can also be used for preventing infections. The best part about using coconut oil on your nipples is that it’s safe for your baby, says Hamann, so you don’t have to wipe it off before feedings.

IBCLC Kristin Gourley also tells Romper that coconut oil is helpful in healing wounds, and safe to use while nursing which eliminates the need to continuously wash already sore nipples. Gourley suggests that if you don’t have coconut oil on hand, olive oil also has similar properties and can soothe nipple pain, too. She adds that the moisturizing properties of both coconut and olive oil can promote healthy tissue in general, and they are way less sticky than lanolin, which is popularly used to treat nipples.

The antibacterial and moisturizing properties of coconut oils have been studied more comprehensively in recent years. Along with studies on health benefits from consuming coconut oil, there are extensive studies on its viability as a skin remedy, too. According to Dermatology Today, a 2004 study found that coconut oil is a significantly efficient moisturizer, which can hydrate skin and increase surface or skin lipid levels. Another study in the Natural Medicine Journal found that a key component of coconut oil is lauric acid, which has been proven to help kill a wide variety of bacteria on the skin.

But not all coconut oil is the same. If you’ve ever perused your local grocery store for coconut oils, I’m sure you have encountered numerous types, from liquids to solids, and varying in color. According to Coconuts and Kettlebells, unrefined, organic, raw coconut oil will retain the most lauric acid, phytonutrients, and polyphenols, as compared to refined, purified, or liquid coconut oil. When it is refined or liquified, many of the healing properties are lost, so it may not help as well as the unrefined versions.

If you want to take your coconut oil nipple care regime a step further, you can amplify it with this DIY sore nipple remedy from Mama Natural. To make this super charged coconut oil concoction, all you need is a spoon of raw apple cider vinegar, a cup of filtered water, powdered infant probiotics, raw coconut oil, a squeeze bottle, and organic cotton balls. The article recommended that after each feeding, squirt a cotton ball with a mixture of the water and vinegar, followed by a dab of coconut oil, and then a sprinkle of the probiotic powder. It’s a little more complicated than straight up coconut oil, but the website claimed it does wonders.

So whether you mix it with anything or are using oil alone, just remember that any oil, including coconut oil, will stain your clothes. “You do want to wear breast pads when you put oil on your nipples,” suggests Gourley, “so you don't get grease stains in your bra.” If your nipples are too sore for friction, you can always put on an old soft shirt that you don’t mind staining. Luckily, nipple pain won’t last too long, but if it continues, try to talk to a lactation consultant who will guide you on proper latching techniques and help get you back on track.

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