Are you a nursing mother suffering from the blocked milk duct problem? Do you want to get rid of the pain in your breast resulting due to clogged milk duct? If yes, then following certain easy home remedies can help you treat the blocked milk duct problem effectively. It is a complication resulting due to the formation of a hard, painful, red lump in your breast, particularly near the nipple while breastfeeding your newborn. Some of the common causes of the clogged milk duct are skipping or incomplete feeding, poor latching when the baby breastfeeds, flu or cold, wearing tight clothes, an inappropriate drain of the milk, stress, lack of sleep, and sleeping positions that put pressure on the milk duct (1). Symptoms of the condition are reduced milk supply, redness, and soreness around the affected breast, pain, fever, and fatigue. If you don’t treat the condition in time, it can lead to a serious breast infection called mastitis. So, read on to learn how to treat a blocked milk duct with simple yet effective home remedies. Scroll down to find them out:
Home Remedies For Blocked Milk Duct
1. Changing Breastfeeding Patterns
Making changes to your breastfeeding schedule is highly effective in treating the problem of a blocked milk duct. Feed your baby often so that most of the milk drains out of your breast. If your newborn feels full quickly, then drain the excess of milk by using a breast pump.
- Also, ensure your infant is getting a good latch while feeding as poor latch can cause clogged milk duct.
- Change your newborn’s position while feeding as it may help to expel the milk from the duct easily. The new position may help your baby in getting a good latch. The most recommended position is to hold the baby in such a way that his/her chin points at the blocked milk duct.(2)
Having a firm massage on the breast with the clogged milk duct can help heal the condition significantly (3). You can massage with your own hands. After the massage, try to squeeze out the blockage by using your index finger and thumb. Place your fingers at the edge of the areola, press it, and squeeze your fingers towards the nipple keeping a bowl close in case the milk flows.
The consumption of garlic helps treat the affected breast and prevents the risk of mastitis as it is rich in antibiotics (4). Eat one raw, mashed garlic clove after every couple of hours till the pain minimizes.
- Alternatively, you can add a dash of raw honey and water to the mashed garlic clove and eat it.
4. Cabbage Warm Compress
Having a warm compress by using fresh leaves of cabbage is an excellent clogged milk duct remedy. All you need to do is microwave a fresh cabbage leaf for a few seconds and then place it on your affected breast for two to three minutes. Follow this after every one hour throughout the day to obtain relief. However, both hot and cold compress of cabbage leaves provide relief from the pain of engorged breasts (5).
Note: Make sure that the cabbage leaf is not very hot.
5. Potato Cold Compress
Potato cold compress is an excellent way to reduce pain and inflammation resulting due to the clogged milk duct. Refrigerate a fresh potato for some hours, grate it, apply the grated potato on your affected breast, and cover it with a washed, clean towel for about five minutes. Follow this every hour of the day. It unclogs the milk duct by healing the inflammation (6).
6. Vitamin C-Rich Foods
An adequate intake of vitamin C helps prevent and heal the clogged milk ducts significantly, minimize the inflammation, and boost your immunity substantially. Some vitamin C-rich foods, such as orange and grapefruit, cantaloupe, broccoli, tomatoes, strawberries, green peppers, kiwi fruit, and others (7). Add them to your regular diet to increase the intake of this vitamin.
Bromelain content in the pineapple helps minimize the inflammation and the blockage caused due to the clogged milk duct (8). To unclog your milk ducts using this fruit, drink one cup of freshly extracted pineapple juice every day. It reduces the inflammation, and unplugs the milk duct.
Vinegar is acidic in nature, and it helps break down the hardened milk in your nipple pore or blocked milk duct. Pour a small quantity of vinegar on a cotton ball, place it on the clogged nipple pore for some hours, and soon you will experience positive results.
9. A Hot Shower
Having a hot shower is quite effective in curing the troubles resulting due to the blocked milk duct (9). Have a hot shower while making sure that the hot water pours over the affected area. Massage your breast under water pressure. You can use coconut oil for the purpose of massage.
Note: Don’t use very hot water as it may burn your skin.
10. Drink Plenty of Water
Adequate water intake treats blocked milk duct condition effectively. Make sure that you drink at least eight to ten glasses of water every day (10). It helps drain the milk easily and fight infections at the same time.
11. Epsom Salt
Epsom salt is an effective remedy for a blocked milk duct. You can add Epsom salt to your bathtub filled with water, dissolve it, and have a bath. It is to be done before nursing. Clean yourself properly using fresh water as the baby may not find a pleasant taste while breastfeeding.
12. Tea Bags
Using hot black tea bags can help cure a clogged milk duct (11). Place a hot tea bag as a compress on the affected area and it acts as a warm compress and helps unclog the milk duct.
13. Charcoal Poultice
Prepare activated charcoal poultice and apply it on the affected area. Change the charcoal poultice after every two hours to reduce inflammation, swelling, and other hazards resulting due to the blocked duct.
Crush ice, wrap it in a wet cloth and apply it to your affected nipple just before nursing your infant to minimize the pain resulting due to a clogged duct significantly. This ice treatment also softens the sore nipples and promotes more supply of milk to your newborn, thus curing the blocked milk duct concern (12).
Lecithin is a yellow-brownish fatty matter that you find in plant and animal tissues (13). It is highly effective due to the ability to break down the fatty acids in your breast milk and making the milk less sticky. Intake of lecithin can help unclog a clogged milk duct and prevent its recurrence. Medical experts suggest that you can have one tablespoon of oral granular lecithin every day.
Note: Have a word with your physician for the right dosage of lecithin.
16. Rice Bag
Fill a clean sock with one cup of raw rice, and close the mouth of the sock by tying it with a rubber band or string. Place the rice filled sock in a microwave. Also, place a half cup of water next to the rice bag. Heat the rich bag for a minute, and then touch it to check if the heat is comfortable. Then hold the rice bag on your affected clogged duct breast area and let it stay for about ten minutes before you start nursing your newborn. This hot compress helps unclog the blocked milk duct effectively (14).
17. Apple Cider Vinegar
ACV is full of many health-boosting qualities like antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. This magical remedy helps you fight infections and stop them from spreading further. Mix one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar with a dash of raw honey in a small glass of water and have it thrice every day to obtain relief from the symptoms of blocked milk duct.
- Alternatively, mix a part of apple cider vinegar with two parts of warm water. Use a cotton ball to apply it to the affected area. Wait for 15 minutes and then, rinse it off with warm water. Do it twice or thrice a day until the infection subsides.
Acupuncture is an excellent natural home remedy to unclog the clogged milk duct easily. This treatment is helpful to get rid of the toxic heat and blockage in the clogged duct. You can go to an acupuncture practitioner to get the therapy.
Note: It is not wise to perform it by yourself.
Having probiotics, such as L. fermentum or L. salivarius strains can help you treat the problem of blocked milk duct easily. Medical studies reveal that these two probiotics reduce bacterial growth in the breastmilk substantially than any antibiotic. Also, the probiotics prevent the risk of recurrence of the infection and milk duct blockage effectively.
Herbal Remedies For Blocked Milk Duct
20. Lavender Essential Oil
Lavender essential oil is a great herbal remedy that cures the problem of clogged milk duct easily. It treats inflammation as well as the pain associated with the clogged milk ducts. Mix a couple of drops of lavender essential oil with one teaspoon of coconut oil and massage your entire breast including armpit focusing on the blocked duct area. Applying the oil on the cracked nipples also promotes a quick healing.
Phytolacca is one of the most common yet effective blocked milk duct treatment that offers you a great relief. This herb helps stimulate your lymph system and combat infections and inflammation resulting due to the blocked duct or mastitis.
Note: Have a dose of phytolacca in the right amount only after consulting your physician.
22. Olive Oil
Olive oil helps make your skin soft, prevents the risk of further clogging and re-clogging to a large extent, and heals the inflammation quickly. To have a healing treatment, soak a small cotton ball in olive oil and place it on the nipple. You will see noticeable effects after a few applications.
23. Thieves Essential Oil
Thieves essential oil is a blend of cinnamon, rosemary, clove, eucalyptus, and lemon essential oils (15). It helps unclog a blocked milk duct. It also boosts your immunity. Dilute the thieves essential oil with a carrier oil and rub it on the affected area before retiring to the bed. It unblocks the clogged duct in 48 hours.
24. Oregano Oil
Oregano oil acts as a natural antibiotic (16). To use this oil for blocked milk ducts, rub a couple of drops of oregano oil on your affected breast area and you will soon experience a relief from the symptoms of clogged duct problem.
- Another option is to add 2 drops of oregano oil to your juice and water. Consume this drink twice a day to reduce the symptoms.
Note: This oil is stronger than most of the antibiotics. Therefore, it should not be consumed for more than 5 days.
The use of calendula ointment is a traditional yet highly effective remedy to heal and strengthen your nipples affected due to the clogged milk duct. Apply calendula ointment on the sore area for some time and then wash the skin well.
Note: Consult your doctor before using the ointment as it may prove harmful to you and your newborn if you do not use it carefully (17).
26. Aloe Vera
Extract gel out of fresh Aloe Vera leaf and apply it on your affected breast. Aloe Vera gel soothes the duct and promotes the healing of cracked and sore nipples efficiently.
Application of the comfrey ointment on your breast area helps make the skin soft and strengthens the nipples simultaneously. Comfrey ointment is exceptionally soothing for your sensitive nipple and promotes quick healing of bruises and fissures to a great extent.
- Alternatively, take a few comfrey leaves and place them in a cotton diaper. Pour water in a pot and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Put this warm compress on your breast to soothe sore nipples.
1) Use it appropriately by consulting your physician.
2) Make sure that you clean your breasts properly after applying the warm compress as comfrey is not quite suitable for the liver of an infant.
Prepare fresh yarrow leaf poultice and apply it on your affected breast area, and you will get instant pain relief. Yarrow leaf also promotes quick healing of the cracked nipples effectively.
Marshmallow roots are an excellent home remedy to treat sore nipples, tender tissues, clogged milk ducts, eliminate infection, and minimize the pain of inflamed breasts (18). Steep about two ounces of dried marshmallow root in a half gallon of water overnight and boil it till it turns slimy and slippery. Pour the hot liquid into the sink and soak your affected breast in it to have quick relief.
30. Castor Oil
Put some drops of castor oil on a moist, warm piece of cloth, and place it on the affected area of your breast. Place a plastic wrap on the cloth and a heating pad over it. Use this remedy for 20 minutes before you begin the feeding. Later, massage the affected area. Follow this after every couple of hours before feeding your baby to get rid of the blockage in the duct.
1) Make sure you do not use castor oil on the areola or nipples.
2) Clean your breasts properly before feeding as baby can’t digest castor oil.
Place a handful of fresh parsley leaves in a clean cotton diaper, close it by tying a rubber band, place it in a pan containing water, and simmer for about fifteen minutes. Apply the hot parsley as a poultice on the affected area to minimize the pain and swelling. It has been used to cure mastalgia and breast engorgement (19).
- Alternatively, you can also use the dried parsley leaves as a compress to treat the pain and swelling in the breast due to the clogged milk duct.
32. Tea Tree Oil
Take a few drops of pure tea tree oil in a small bowl, add some drops of olive oil or coconut oil to it, and dilute it. Apply the diluted tea tree oil to the affected nipples and breast area after each feeding. Its bactericidal and anti-inflammatory properties will help treat the infection quickly (20).
Note: Make sure that you wash your nipples and breast before feeding your baby after using tea tree oil remedy.
33. Poke Root
Poke root stimulates the activity of lymph glands, and helps treat the troubles resulting due to the blocked milk duct (21). Warm a pot of water and add a few drops of the extract of this herb. Soak a washcloth into it. Squeeze the cloth to remove the excess water. Place it on the affected area of your breast to get relief.
1) Poke root is toxic in nature, so make sure you use not more than two drops of the tincture every day.
2) Make sure that water in not too hot to be applied on the skin.
Echinacea root tincture is a great home remedy to treat clogged milk duct. Medical experts recommend on having a half drop of tincture per pound of your body weight. So, if you weigh 120 lbs then you can have 60 drops. You can have the dose of Echinacea root tincture three to five times daily to minimize the symptoms of clogged milk duct.
Chamomile is an excellent herbal remedy to cure blocked milk duct. All you need to do is place fresh chamomile leaves in a bowl, pour boiling water on it, and let it steep for fifteen minutes. After it cools, apply the herbs as a poultice on the affected breast area and let it stay on the affected area till it cools. Repeat this remedy many times daily to get rid of inflammation and swelling resulting due to the clogged duct.
- Or, Drink a lot of chamomile tea daily to obtain relief.
- Feed the newborn frequently. Continue to nurse even if you feel uncomfortable due to the clogged duct problem.
- Expose your breast and nipples to the air whenever it’s convenient in order to hamper the growth of thrush.
- Bare your nipples and breast to sunlight for a considerable time to strengthen the tissues.
- Try different nursing positions till you learn which positions are the most comfortable ones with entire areola in your infant’s mouth.
- Do not use cologne, powder, and deodorant on your breasts and nipples.
- Avoid washing your nipples with a soap as it causes cracking and chapping of the nipples.
- Do not wear tight clothes or undergarments 24 hours a day.
Did you treat your clogged milk duct by any of the above home remedies? Which home remedies worked the best for you? Share your unique experience and knowledge with the fellow moms by leaving a comment below.