Breast-feeding & Dry Skin

Mother with daughter and baby in a white nursery
A mother holding her baby and talking to her young daughter. (Image: FamVeld/iStock/Getty Images)

Breast-feeding provides a valuable method of feeding your baby nutrients and the antibodies your body naturally possesses. However, dry skin makes it a difficult process for some women. If you have dry skin, particularly on the nipple, breast-feeding becomes painful. Having dry skin all over your body may indicate a different postpartum medical condition, however.

Cracking

Breast-feeding is initially uncomfortable for many women. If your nipples become too dry, the skin cracks, which invites infection and also makes the process of the baby latching on and feeding painful. Using lanolin-based ointments, letting breast milk dry naturally on your nipples and avoiding synthetic material next to the nipple minimizes the potential for dry skin to develop.

Thyroid Issues

In 5 to 9 percent of women, the process of re-setting the body's functions postpartum causes issues with the thyroid, according to a 1999 study published in the July issue of "Thyroid." Hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism become permanent for a quarter to a third of this group. Symptoms include systemic dry skin, an intolerance for cold, lethargy and poor memory for those who have hypothyroidism. Hyperthyroidism manifests as irritability combined with lack of energy. If these symptoms occur as you are nursing, consult your doctor for testing.

Hydration

Nursing requires that you stay hydrated. At least eight 8-oz. servings of liquid, such as water, milk or juice, help you maintain your nursing supply. However, the general rule is to drink if you feel thirsty. Especially the first few days after birth, when your body is shedding excess fluids, drink as much as you need, paying attention to the additional demands that nursing places on your hydration levels. If you become dehydrated, you endanger your milk supply and may also suffer from dry skin.

Infant Dry Skin

If you are breast-feeding and your infant has dry skin, speak with your doctors. Moderate dehydration symptoms include dry skin that is spongy and doesn't spring back when gently pressed. If your milk supply is compromised or you live in a very hot climate, pay careful attention to your infant's skin. If she cries without tears, has dry skin and seems lethargic, contact your doctor immediately.

REFERENCES & RESOURCES
Load comments
PARTNER & LICENSEE OF THE LIVESTRONG FOUNDATION

Copyright © 2019 Leaf Group Ltd. Use of this web site constitutes acceptance of the LIVESTRONG.COM Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Copyright Policy. The material appearing on LIVESTRONG.COM is for educational use only. It should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. LIVESTRONG is a registered trademark of the LIVESTRONG Foundation. The LIVESTRONG Foundation and LIVESTRONG.COM do not endorse any of the products or services that are advertised on the web site. Moreover, we do not select every advertiser or advertisement that appears on the web site-many of the advertisements are served by third party advertising companies.