Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Nipple Pain That Isn't Related to Breastfeeding Part 2

Welcome back!  If you found this randomly, click here to see what symptoms led me down my rabbit hole and come back.  I'll still be here.

As a reminder, I am not a doctor.  I am relaying my experience and the measures I personally chose to do in order to attempt to heal.  Consult your doctor for the best course of action for you.

I got in to see my gynie who checked for signs of inflammatory breast cancer which there were none.  She looked at the nipples and said I wasn't 'presenting' with typical signs of Paget's Disease which was good but obviously she'd need to wait on the mammogram for more info.  She said that she would prescribe a compound to put on it that was a steroid/antibiotic in case anything bacterial was going on and to get the inflammation down.  I would need to go to a compounding pharmacy which I never heard of before but it's basically where they make the drug themselves to the exact specifications of the doctor.  There are only two and we're in a big city.  It typically takes 24-48 hours for them to make something like that so I waited.  

In the meantime, I got my mammogram two days later with the lady I got it from the last time who totally makes you forget you're getting your boobs smashed and I told her to turn them into crepes.  She used 35 lbs of pressure which is 3 more than the last time and I could tell by the scans I was good to go before I even got the official all clear. 

Within 24 hours I got the call to pick up the compound.  The potion she prescribed me contained 1% Mupirocin, .05% betamethasone valerate, and 2% miconazole nitrate.  (Basically an antibiotic, antifungal and anti-inflammatory trifecta.)  I had much hope that at least if there was an infection to blame, it could be cleared up as I was awaiting my 80th new bra to come in.  

I was hopeful but honestly, for my particular situation, I wasn't feeling a ton of relief.  I truly felt like the ointment was getting minimal time to soak in before either getting rubbed onto the cup of whatever bra I was wearing or on the sheets when I was free boobing it at night.  I spent a lot of time crying wondering if this was just my life now.  I spent more time than I care to looking at nipples, thinking about nipples and I'm sure much to the chagrin of my husband and best friend, talking about nipples.  It was all nipples, all the time and with no fun involving them.  

After a week, when I was told I 'should' be getting relief, it just wasn't as far along as I'd hoped.  I had one more week of the compound to use (any longer than that and it can cause yeast infections.  Aces.) so I began yet ANOTHER search to speed nipple healing.  I came across a breastfeeding site and it mentioned 'wet wound healing.'  I researched more and found studies as well and thought I had nothing to lose at this point.  I'd already gone the lanolin route which I felt rubbed off on the bra as well so I wasn't sure how much was actually sinking in other than at night.  The original site talked about using hydrogel dressings as a way to speed healing.  I was all over that because it would provide some cooling relief to angry nips as well as keep the ointment in place.  I would apply the compound to the nipple, cover it with the dressing and put on my "in-betweener" bra.  After we did our evening workout, I would gently wash the nipple with warm water and mild goat milk soap then let 'em breathe for a few hours.  At night, I didn't have the option to use the dressing because they wouldn't stay in place while I tossed and turned so I would apply the ointment an hour before bed and rub it in so it was moist but still free and easy.  I felt that 2nd week is when I had the most healing happen.  I was not fully recovered. not by a long shot.  But I wasn't in tears and constantly rubbing at my boobs from the pain.

When the compound was donzo, then it was time to figure out how I would keep the nips moist.  I wanted something that would continue to be anti-bacterial since it would be kept moist.  I found this tea tree oil ointment that people were raving over for all kinds of rashes and skin irritations.  Granted, no one said anything about using it on the lady lumps but I figured if it didn't work for that, I could use it for all kinds of other stuff.  Thankfully, it seemed to work.  I have sensitive skin so I wondered if it would burn or tingle and it did neither.  It was perfectly comfortable.  I would put it on before bed and again in the morning.  I continued that for 2 weeks after no longer using the compound for continued healing.  I tested whether I could go without and sometimes I felt fine, other times my sports bra irritated me so bad, I felt like I took two steps back.  I had to pad that with bamboo nursing pads because my skin was now incredibly sensitive to the cup material and that was after FINALLY finding a sports bra with no seams running across the nipple.  I finally got bras that fit properly so that the girls could be better supported to heal instead of being smooshed in an ill fitting bra.  Consult a bra chart and make sure you are wearing the right bra.  If you'd ever told me I was a DDD (F!), I would've told you that you were insane.  I don't look like a triple D at all so it was a shock.  I also went so far as to have a supportive bra made for me by this lady on Etsy.

I cannot stress the importance of having a bra that fits right.  With my pandemic weight gain, I thought it was only my band size that expanded since my boobs weren't spilling out of the cups.  Nope, they were being smooshed and that smooshing was causing major friction that got me in this position in the first place.  I can't begin to tell you the pain, irritation, frustration and terror of the mind spiral at my lowest.  It is beyond ridiculous that all you can find online for nipple pain is either 80% breastfeeding related, 18% runner's nipple (bloody and scabby) and 2% other.  The one thing that helped put me over the edge since I feel it was a crack at the edge of my nipple was using New Skin liquid bandage on the very edge.  Obviously, I didn't put it over the whole nipple but just the one problem spot to reduce the friction while my boobs adjusted to my new better fitting bras.

If you can relate to what I've described,  discuss your options with your doctor to get a plan of action for your particular situation.  This ended up being a 5 month ordeal for me and no one should have to suffer for that long.  A lot of tears, sleepless nights and anxiety that I didn't need.  My poor husband felt so helpless to do anything but I'm thankful for his support and hugs while trying to get through it all.

Lastly, sorry to use the words nipple and moist so often but there it is.


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  1. Did you try nipple shells?
    Medela® TheraShell™ Breast Shells
    (I had to think a long time to remember what they were called.)

    They are sort of like turtle shells with holes in them so the air can circulate. I think the nipple sort of floats in there, so nothing is touching and they get air. You wear them in your bra.

    And I totally agree about no seams in bra cups, I cannot stand that for even a minute, no matter what the circumstances.

  2. Thank God you're fine. I'm sorry you were in such misery.

  3. What a horrible thing to go through. I'm so sorry you had to deal with so much stress and fears of this being any number of scary things, and then hitting roadblock after roadblock. I'm happy you found bras to fit you without seams and with the right cup/band size, and can have that daily relief.

  4. I am so glad you have found relief. Very happy that the tests you got were all looking good of course too!


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