What Causes a Clogged Milk Duct and How to Treat It 

If you are a mom who breastfeeds, it is very possible you could experience a clogged milk duct at some point. This is a common occurrence as far as breastfeeding problems go. It can be very painful and can sometimes even lead to mastitis. 


If your breast milk is being produced faster than it is leaving your body, it is possible that it will accumulate leading to a clogged milk duct. It can also happen if the breasts are not emptied completely on an ongoing basis. 

One of the breastfeeding problems that new mothers can face, especially those attempting newborn breastfeeding, is that the baby cannot fully latch on to the breast. Another is using a pump to express breast milk that is not powerful enough. Finally, a weaning your baby too fast without giving your body time to adapt may cause your milk to clog. 

Home Remedies 

Many women who experience a clogged milk duct will attempt to fix the problem at home. Some common techniques include hot baths or showers, self-massage and changing the position in which the baby nurses. 

You should also make your baby nurse from the affected side first. While it may be painful, the infant sucks hardest during the first part of feeding and might dislodge the plug. 

Additional treatments that might work for you 

  • Some apply cotton soaked with vinegar on the clogged nipple to help the milk flow more smoothly. 
  • Another recommended clogged nipple remedy consists of heating fresh cabbage leaves and putting them on the infected nipple for a couple a minutes. This treatment should be done once an hour throughout the day. It is excellent for pain relief. 
  • Potatoes have anti-inflammatory qualities similar to cabbage and are, therefore, highly effective to treat a clogged milk duct. Wrap cold and grated potato in a piece of cloth and place it on your nipple for 10 minutes. Repeat this action approximately every two hours in the course of the day. 
  • A 15-minute warm bath with Epsom salt (magnesium sulfate) may also be very effective. The recommended dosage is 2 cups per bathtub. Epsom salt is a traditional anti-inflammatory medicine used for a variety of diseases. 

One additional remark: remove any traces of the material with soap and clean water before you start breastfeeding. You don’t want your baby to taste it. 

  • Activated charcoal poultice can help reduce swelling. Put it on the affected area and change every three hours. 
  • Lecithin is a well-known clogged milk duct remedy as it helps reduce milk viscosity. One spoon of oral granular lecithin can do wonders. 
  • Some foods also have a positive effect, mainly those rich in vitamin C. Garlic, in particular, reduces the risk of mastitis. You should eat 3 – 4 cloves a day. You can add them to your salad or eat them with honey if you can’t stand the taste. 

When should you seek medical attention? 

If home remedies have no effect, it is imperative that you turn to professional medical help without delay as things can get worse. 

A common complication of a clogged milk duct is mastitis with symptoms such as redness, swelling, warmth in the tissue, fever, chills and excessive pain. From there, it can turn into a full breast infection, which may aggravate and spread throughout the body.