A white spot on the nipple may also be referred to as a blocked nipple pore, a bleb or a milk blister. It is usually about the size of a pin-head or a little larger. The 'white' spot may not be white in colour - it may be more of a pink or light yellow colour. The skin surrounding the white spot may be red and inflamed. A white spot might cause nipple pain, especially during a breastfeed.
The blockage is usually caused by either an overgrowth of skin or a small amount of thickened milk. It creates a blocked duct at the nipple tip and sometimes is associated with mastitis. There may be a hard strip of breast tissue leading away from the blockage in the nipple.
When a white spot is present on the nipple and is causing pain, the tips from our article on attachment to improve your baby’s attachment to the breast can be helpful to reduce pain with feeding.
When the baby breastfeeds from the breast that has the white spot on the nipple, the fragile layer of skin over the white spot can sometimes burst or the thickened milk can move, thereby releasing the milk from the duct behind it. In this way, a white spot can sometimes resolve itself.
If this fails to resolve it, the nipple may need to be soaked in warm water and then gently rubbed with a wet face-washer. Olive oil massaged into the affected nipple may also help soften and break up the blockage (1).
When the above measures are unsuccessful at removing the white spot, a medical adviser can use a sterile needle to gently release the blockage (2).
Instant relief often follows the disappearance of the white spot. Unfortunately, for some mothers, the problem seems to recur (3). 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.
Breastfeeding: breast and nipple care
Breastfeeding: Breast and Nipple Care tells you what to expect as your breasts change during pregnancy and briefly covers how breastfeeding works.
1. Walker M, (2010), The nipple and areola in breastfeeding and lactation: anatomy, physiology, problems and solutions, Clinics in Human Lactation. Vol 7. Amarillo,Texas: Hale Publishing.
2. Day J, (2001), Report of Australian Breastfeeding Association white spot study, Topics in Breastfeeding. Set X11(Dec):1–10.
3. Campbell SH, (2006), Recurrent plugged ducts, J Hum Lact, 22(3):340-343.
The information on this website does not replace advice from your health care providers.
© Australian Breastfeeding Association March 2015