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A Systematic Review of the Interventions for Nipple Trauma in Breastfeeding Mothers


Flaviana Vieira, Faculty of Nursing, Federal University of Goias. Rua 227 Qd 68 Setor Leste Universitário Goiânia – Goiás, Brazil, CEP: 74080-605.




To identify the most effective interventions to treat nipple trauma in breastfeeding mothers.

Design and Methods

Systematic literature review using the PICO strategy. The search was conducted on the electronic information systems Medline-PubMed, Latin American and Caribbean Health Sciences Literature (LILACS), Scientific Electronic Library Online (SciELO), World Health Organization Library Information System (WHOLIS), Cochrane, ScienceDirect (Elsevier), Embase, and Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL), using standardized and unstandardized descriptors. Studies were selected if they were controlled or uncontrolled randomized clinical trials written in English, Portuguese, or Spanish. Two reviewers evaluated the studies independently using a guide, and in case there were disagreements, a third reviewer was called on to reach a consensus. Of the 496 studies located, five were included.


The treatments investigated were lanolin, lanolin in association with breast protection shells, breast milk, hydrogel, adhesive polyethylene film dressings, a spray containing chlorhexidine with alcohol, and distilled water. All the groups in every study received breastfeeding education. The best outcomes for the treatment of nipple trauma used lanolin (recommendation B, evidence level 2) and breast milk (recommendation B, evidence level 2). Although one clinical study was found with positive outcomes resulting from treatment using a spray containing alcohol and chlorhexidine 0.2% (recommendation B, evidence level 2), this treatment modality should be further investigated since literature is not in favor of using antiseptic substances in skin wound treatment.


Considering the treatments investigated, the most favorable evidence indicates the use of lanolin alone or in association with breast protection shells and breast milk expressed and rubbed into the nipple and areola after each feeding session. However, the results obtained in this review are inconclusive, indicating the need for further studies in order to clarify the action of breast milk and lanolin on the damaged tissues, as well as studies involving samples representative of the number needed to treat.

Clinical Relevance

This study provides evidence for nursing practice, thus contributing to the improvement of lactating mothers with nipple trauma care and, consequently, improving the rates of successful breastfeeding as well as the quality of life of breastfeeding mothers.