What You Need to Know About Nipple Scabs: Causes, Treatment, Prevention

What You Need To Know About Nipple Scabs: Causes, Treatment, Prevention

Nipple scab is a common skin condition affecting both men and women. It may cause redness or itchiness around your nipples when you’re nursing.

If left untreated it can lead to infection.

Scabies is a parasitic infestation caused by the mite Demodex folliculorum. It affects humans and animals.

The mites live in warm moist environments such as under beds, in cracks and crevices, and even on clothing. They feed on blood of mammals including mice, rats, voles, rabbits and lizards. When they bite into their hosts’ skin they inject a toxin which causes itching sensations along with other symptoms like fever, chills or headache.

Scabies is spread from person to person through bites. It is usually transmitted by someone who has been in close contact with the infected animal or human.

Humans can become infected if they come into direct contact with an affected area where the mites reside. Infected individuals will develop a rash and soreness at the site of infection within 24 hours after exposure. Small, red papules and tiny blisters form an itchy crust which begins to shed a few days later leaving small sores or crusted scabs. The affected person may experience intense itching around their genital area, armpits, waist, nape or joints. Scabies can also spread due to contaminated bedding or clothing.

Demodex mites are not known to transmit disease but may cause localized skin infection if left untreated. Humans with immunodeficiencies like those suffering from HIV can experience skin lesions or secondary bacterial infection in the bite area.

Treatments include OTC lotions, steroids, anti-parasites, and antibiotics.

Scabies is curable if detected early enough.

Staphylococcal Scalded Skin Syndrome (SSSS)

Staphylococcal scalded skin syndrome (SSSS) is a rare but potentially life-threatening condition caused by toxic shock induced by staphylococcus aureus. It causes erythema or redness and peeling of the skin within 24 to 48 hours after infection onset.

The skin may be left with scarring, especially if the condition is left untreated.

The symptoms of staphylococcal scalded skin syndrome (SSSS) may develop after an infection caused by staphylococcus aureus; the patient may have a wound, sore throat or respiratory infection. It is more common in children under five and affects males more than females.

The patient usually experiences high fever, low blood pressure, diarrhea, vomiting, headache, sore throat and peeling of skin. The ears, nose or throat may be swollen and the tongue may appear to have a “honey-colored” coating.

The condition is fatal in five to fifteen percent of cases if left untreated. There is no cure for staphylococcal scalded skin syndrome; however, treatment involves supportive care and the administration of antibiotics to fight off the infection.

Staphylococcal scalded skin syndrome (SSSS) is a rare condition; however, it can be life-threatening if left untreated.


Also known as “sun poisoning,” sunburn is an inflammation of the skin caused by excessive exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays. It is common in those who have light skin and are outdoors for long periods of time without sunscreen.

These rays damage the DNA of skin cells and cause a response in the skin that creates inflammation, redness and sometimes blisters.

The symptoms of sunburn usually appear within several hours after excessive sun exposure. The skin will initially be red and begin to feel warm or hot.

If a blister appears, it may be filled with a clear fluid. The affected area may also be itchy or painful.

Severe sunburn should be seen by a physician immediately. It can result in blisters, swelling, low blood pressure, shock, and dehydration.

These complications can be life-threatening.

Sunburn is treatable with pain medication. People with sunburn should stay in cool environment and use lotions or aloe vera to keep the skin hydrated.

OTC pain reliever helps to alleviate the discomfort.

Sunburn should be treated immediately in order to prevent complications.


Swelling is the increasing of a body part due to an abnormal accumulation of fluid beneath or within the tissues. This can be temporary or permanent, depending on the cause and how long it has been left untreated.

Swelling can occur anywhere on the body; however, it’s most commonly found in the ankles, feet, face and stomach.

Swelling can be caused by injury, allergic reactions, infections, side effects of medication and other conditions.

Patients with swelling will experience a sudden and often rapid expansion of the area involved. There will be a loss of definition of the skin, loss of feeling of the skin and a loss of movement at the area.

Treatment for swelling depends on the cause. It will usually resolve within two weeks.

In some cases it can be permanent.

Swelling can be a symptom of a more serious condition. It’s important to visit a physician if you experience symptoms of swelling.

Nipple Scabs

Most often, scabs are dried bits of skin that have already been replaced by new cells as part of the healing process. At other times, scabs are the result of trauma or injury such as a scrape, cut or bite.

Scabs that develop on the nipples can be either dry bits of skin or clumps of dead tissue.

The rash known as mastitis is probably the most common cause of a scab to appear on a female’s nipples. This is an inflammation of the tissue in and around the areola and often causes a harmful buildup of milk.

This condition will usually resolve itself within one or two weeks as long as it is treated properly.

Another common cause of scabbing on the nipples is a skin condition known as psoriasis. This rare condition causes a buildup of cells and may result in raised, red patches on various parts of the body including the nipples.

Not all scabs that appear on or around the nipples are cause for alarm. Some minor trauma or irritation can result in a scab forming.

These scabs will usually fall off after about a week without any medical treatment.

If you are concerned that the scab is infected, it’s best to see a physician. An infection can easily be treated with antibiotics.

Effects of High Altitude on the Body

The human body was not designed to function at high altitudes. When we fly in airplanes or drive to high altitude places like Denver, our bodies undergo some serious changes.

Although some people may experience symptoms, others may not experience any at all. The human body can only survive in extreme altitudes when proper medical treatment is administered.

Rapid Breathing and Heart Palpitations

The most noticeable symptom of high altitude is rapid breathing or panting. This is the body’s natural reaction to lower oxygen levels.

In addition, people may experience heart palpitations as a result of the lower oxygen level in the blood.


The lower air pressure of high altitude can cause a build up of fluid in the brain. This causes a dull constant headache.

The headache can be alleviated by taking over the counter painkillers. Some people also experience a loss of appetite and nausea with altitude sickness.

Muscle Weakness and Stiffness

The lower oxygen level at high altitudes causes certain muscles to become weak and tire easily. This can be alleviated by resting and taking it easy.

Some people may also experience muscle twitches and spasms as a result of the lower oxygen level in the blood.

Insomnia and Fatigue

At high altitudes, it is more difficult to breathe. This causes a person to have trouble sleeping because they are tired but cannot catch their breath.

The fatigue causes people to feel sluggish and tired throughout the day.


Some people may experience fainting when going from a high altitude to a low altitude. This can be dangerous if it causes a person to hit their head or choke on their tongue.

It is best to sit or lie down if you start to feel faint at high altitudes.

Transportation Issues

Some vehicles have difficulty operating at very high altitudes. Trucks and buses will not be able to climb steep inclines and may become stuck.

Planes will not be able to fly as high and might experience engine problems. Some roads and bridges might also be damaged from landslides or freezing temperatures.

Tips For Enjoying High Altitude Vacations

1. Do not over exert yourself when you first arrive.

2. Do not drink alcohol or smoke until you acclimate to the altitude.

3. Avoid heavy meals, large amounts of caffeine and sugary foods.

4. Eat small meals and eat more often to keep your blood sugar consistent.

5. Drink more water to counteract the effects of dehydration on your body.

6. Rest and take it easy until your body acclimates to the altitude.

7. If you begin to experience any of the symptoms of altitude sickness, drink water and rest.

Do not exert yourself and call a doctor if you feel it is necessary.

8. If you are pregnant, elderly or have a medical condition, talk to your doctor before going on vacation.

(Information courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

LINK to the Federal Aviation Administrations page about flying and altitude sickness

Return to Learn How To

› Altitude Sickness

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Behavioural (non‐chemical) addictions by I Marks – British journal of addiction, 1990 – Wiley Online Library

Positive effect of HPA lanolin versus expressed breastmilk on painful and damaged nipples during lactation by M Abou-Dakn, JW Fluhr, M Gensch… – Skin pharmacology and …, 2011 – karger.com

The treatment of Staphyloccocus aureus infected sore nipples: a randomized comparative study by V Livingstone, LJ Stringer – Journal of Human Lactation, 1999 – journals.sagepub.com

LLLI| Body Modification and Breastfeeding: What You Need to Know llli. org by R Roche-Paull – lgbtqpn.ca

Conquering common breast-feeding problems by S Nipples, B Rockers – 2010

The relationship between positioning, the breastfeeding dynamic, the latching process and pain in breastfeeding mothers with sore nipples by M Walker – The Journal of perinatal & neonatal nursing, 2008 – journals.lww.com

Exercise to prevent coronary heart disease: An experimental study of the effects of training on risk factors for coronary disease in men by K Brimdyr, A Blair, K Cadwell… – Breastfeeding …, 2003 – search.informit.com.au