Natural Remedy for a Clogged Milk Duct

A blocked or “clogged milk duct” is painful, and can led to infection or mastitis.

Fortunately, there are a number of DIY, natural remedies that are very effective at treating a clogged milk duct.

Natural remedies for clogged milk duct video

Here’s what worked for me.

Once Paloma hit three and half months, she started waking up again in the middle of the night. Bummer.

But, she surprised me a few weeks back and gave me one glorious night of sleep. She didn’t wake up for nine hours straight. Glorious! I woke up very happy. But my boobs did not. They were engorged, hot, and hurting.

I nursed Paloma as soon as she woke, but my right breast would not soften no matter how many times I put her to it.

Anatomy of a woman's breast

I checked myself and felt the dreaded clogged milk duct “knot”

Although I hadn’t had one before, I knew it was a clogged duct. And I knew that I needed to act fast before the blocked breast duct led to infection or mastitis.

I ran up to the bathroom and took a long, hot shower

I kept my breast under the stream of water and massaged it. No luck.

Then I tried breastfeeding again

But I could tell my baby wasn’t getting much milk. She wasn’t able to get rid of the clogged milk duct.

I started to panic a bit

My breast was starting to hurt and feel hot. Out of desperation, I started to massage the area with coconut oil. And that was the beginning of my DIY natural remedy for a blocked or clogged milk duct.

Natural Treatment for a Clogged Milk Duct

  1. Take a hot shower and massage breast tissue.
  2. Make a Lavender tea tincture. Take 4 Lavender tea bags and put into 2 cups of hot water. Let sit covered for 10-15 minutes. Soak a wash cloth or paper towel in tea mixture and apply the wet cloth to breasts. (You can also apply the used tea bags to breast tissue.) Let it sit for 10-15 minutes. If you don’t have Lavender tea, you can use real aloe vera instead.
  3. Next, apply this coconut oil. Massage around the entire breast, up into the arm pit, with a special focus on the clogged duct area. You can also apply to any cracked nipples. When I did this, the tissue instantly softened a bit, but, more importantly, the pain let up.
  4. Once the coconut oil has absorbed, apply thinly sliced organic potatoes to your breast with the clogged duct. Place them all around the breast, and put on a bra to hold the potato in place. You can also “grate” the potatoes. Place on breast and cover with a clean cloth. I know this sounds weird, but trust me on this one. Leave on for at least 1 hour. Replace with fresh potatoes as needed. 
  5. Nursing using this technique. Lay baby on a blanket on floor or bed. Get on your hands and knees above baby (bridge pose), and gently drop to your elbows. Let her nurse with your breast hanging down directly into her mouth. This position has gravity working for you. Try to point baby’s chin to the clogged duct, as this has the greatest force.
  6. Consume sunflower lecithin as directed on bottle from a non-GMO source. This can thin the milk and help prevent “stickiness” which can cause clogged ducts in the first place. Some moms continue to take this supplement as a preventative step. It’s good for brain function, which may help with mamas
  7. Take Phytolacca as directed on bottle. This homeopathic remedy stimulates the lymph system and can help to fight inflammation and infection.
  8. Eat 1 raw garlic clove mashed every two hours until pain is gone. I find it doesn’t taste as bad if I add a little raw honey and water and choke it down that way. This can help ward off mastitis.
  9. Drink 1 cup of pineapple juice daily (not from concentrate). The bromelain in pineapple helps to reduce inflammation and the chance for clogged ducts. Kelsey, a reader below, swears by it!
  10. Take probiotics, specifically L. fermentum or L. salivarius strains. Research shows that both are good alternatives to antibiotics to treat mastitis and may help prevent it as well. The study found that these strains of probiotics reduced bacterial count in mom’s breastmilk more efficiently than antibiotics did and reoccurrence of mastitis happened less in the probiotic groups than the antibiotic group.

I followed steps 1-4, and the clogged milk duct in my breast went away. The additional steps will further prevent a clogged milk duct, and hopefully eliminate any potential for infection. If you develop a fever and chills, consult with your health care provider immediately. Infections can be serious for you and baby.

Have you ever had a clogged milk duct?

How did you treat it? Share with us in the comments below so we can help other mamas who struggle with clogged ducts or mastitis.

68 Comments

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  1. So far I’ve had mastitis 6 times over 2 babies with ties. Ive been treated with antibiotics 4 times & did it natural twice. I found at first sign of blockage apple cider vinegar with the mother 1 tbsp in cup on water, probiotic, vitamin C & a raw garlic to be a great combo. I always have these products in the house all the time. I also feed from the infected breast up to 4 times first, using gravity. Hot shower with a really tough massage & lots of hydration. It has worked both times for mastitis & on countless blocked ducts 🙂

  2. Hot/warm compress to the affected area followed by massaging the plugged ducts. Nurse or pump as much as possible on the affected breast and massage area during nursing. This hasn’t failed me yet.

  3. I’m not pregnant or planning to conceive but I am producing milk and i see that one of my breast is bleeding would a cold compress help

  4. I’m not pregnant neither am I expecting to conceive but I am producing breast milk so can I use a cold compress for breast for a clogged duct

    • You need to see a Dr asap.

  5. I had a huge clogged duct on my right breast 2 days ago. It hurt so bad! It even made nursing really painful because for whatever reason, when my daughter nursed, my nipple got super sensitive and sore. I tried everything I had at my house-hot shower, hot rag, warm water in a bowl, heating pad, Epsom salt/water soak, aloe vera gel, coconut oil, Frankincense and Lavender essential oils, lots and lots of massaging, pumping, and nursing. Nothing seemed to help at all. In fact, it was getting worse as the night went on. But before I went to bed, I took a couple of my placenta capsules (I had plenty of leftovers in the freezer) and in the morning it was gone! I prayed a whole lot, but besides that, I really think it was my placenta that helped it go away! I was wowed. 🙂

    • Those things would have worked. I’ve had sooo many blocked ducts & mastitis numerous times & it always feels just as bad when I go to be after having my natural remedies & then I wake up with it unblocked & by tender. Most probably not the placenta capsules. It would be the other natural remedies that you tried 🙂

  6. Massage and heating pad after massage for a couple hours. Works like a charm

  7. I got a clogged milk duct with my very first baby. It was very red, very warm, and extremely sore. I even ran a fever because of it. I did call my doctor and she immediately prescribed an antibiotic without even seeing me. I was super thankful for that but did take antibiotic. I just had the prescription as back up.
    I consumed Colloidal silver, took a warm shower and massaged the area. I applied Colloidal silver gel on the area that was red and hot with fever. I nursed the baby starting on that side everytime I nursed so his suction was strong starting out. It worked!! It was gone in one day after treating it.

  8. I always get a blocked duct due to a small white hard bleb that hasn’t heal since I had my baby who is almost 9 months. The pain with the bl Kev duct is so sore! Not even a lactation consultant helped my situation. I soak in bath salts, use coconut oil, take lecithin, cabbage leaves nothing seems to work. My breast clears in 48hrs. I will be giving up breast feed this is enough suffering I’m surprised I’ve last this long always feeling unwell.

  9. I constantly massaged around the area all morning. I put a hot towel on top of the clog and massaged it then pumped for 6 min. 5 min later it was time for my baby to feed as she fed I massaged around the clog and she ate for about 10 min then it was gone, i couldn’t believe it. The hot towel worked to break it up right before the baby fed (make the towel as hot as you can take).

    • How long does it takes you to do this for the lump to be gone?

  10. I was working took leave for 2 months with baby on the third month I joined again but was not able to pump properly at work so I started less pumping I had a lot milk but started getting low I left my job after a month my baby was more on formula then breastmilk I don’t know I have plugged duct or not because since last month my baby stopped taking breastmilk as supply was very low but I couldn’t figure out as I am totally unexperienced it’s my first one and living alone with hubby.so from my right breast milk supply is visible low then the left one plus it’s not as soft as the left one please guide my moms.i really want to put my baby again on breastmilk please help me to do it again don’t want to relay only on pumping

  11. I know this sounds weird but I have my husband nurse off me once a day completely draining me. Ever since we started doing that I have not gotten clogged ducts in several months.

    • I bet his health is amazing, too! 🙂

    • I tried this he said it tasted fine but texture made him sick to his stomach 🙁

  12. This may sound crazy but a common house plant, kalanchoe does wonders for mastitis. I got the tip from a friend who is a native of Russia. She said the hospitals in Russia used this plant frequently when she lived there. She had me crush one of leaves and rub the juices on the area of the breast that was pink and tender (not on the nipple but where the clogged duct presumably was located) It worked like a charm! I did it a couple times that day and it caused the pain to go away the next day. I made sure to wash my nipples before nursing in case it had gotten on them so baby wouldn’t ingest any of it. I also dosed myself with grapefruit seed extract to help fight the infection. I was so grateful that I didn’t need antibiotics.

  13. I know it’s weird, but I use a vibrator to massage out the knots

  14. I’ve had mastitis 6 or so times in the 9 months since having my baby, and clogged ducts without infection a couple more times. So frustrating and painful! But I recently discovered that PINEAPPLE JUICE (not from concentrate) is really effective at clearing up a clogged duct and preventing infection/making mastitis symptoms go away super quickly (in addition to nursing frequently and massaging the breast towards the nipple while nursing/pumping). So I’ve taken to drinking a glass of the juice every day as a preventative measure and so far it seems to be helping on that front too! What a delicious solution. And it makes my milk taste good too (I assume, based on how it smells on my baby’s breath lol)!

    • Wow! I am going to have to try this, I live with a clogged duct on my left side, and it seems I am getting a clog at least once a week on the other side. I am concerned about the left side getting infect. (It has previously, to the point of a hospital stay. This is something that I have not yet tried though! Thanks!

  15. I wish I had seen this post a year ago. I’ve suffered from clogged ducts and mastisis since my son was 2 months old. I’ll have to try these if it happens again. Thanks!

    • Please tell me what worked for you?

  16. That was very smart 🙂

  17. Frankinsence is anti bacterial, anti fungal, relaxing, anti swelling and anti-irritant. Its been used fr breast health since the beginning of time, and biblical one of the three oils. Boiled cabbage worked really well one, just apply it warm and relax andcchange it with warm ones when it cooled. It has something in it too, its an old remedy, like potatoes starch.

  18. It is comforting to know I am not the only one getting then on a regular basis. Something’s that I find helpful are:
    1. Filling a deep bowl with hot water and Epsom salts and soaking the effected breast for a few minutes before nursing.
    2. Dangle feeding with breast hanging into babes mouth.
    3. Applying the bottom of an electric tooth brush to the tender lumpy spot. ( I used to be able to do this while nursing but now he gets too distracted, so I just do it before the feed).
    4. Lecithin 4xs a day.
    Thank you for these additional tips!

    • So e people just do it more! Its all fferent for everyone. Lechithin helps.

    • I had a Lactation consultant recommend all those things, plus when you take a hot shower with the water on the breast, soap it up and take a fine tooth comb and rake the area toward the nipple. Totally works for me. Especially when your hands get tired from massage.

  19. I just went through that pain a month ago. What really helped was a small heating pad applied all around the breast, drinking lot and lots of water and chamomile tea and then some lightly crushed cabbage leaves in my bra. I was hesitant on trying the cabbage leaves at first and after I did I regretted for not trying that in the beginning. Turns out cabbage leaves help take out any inflammation.

  20. Glad you are better! From what I hear, mastitis is no joke.

  21. I put on a tight shirt over a tight shirt for Jammie’s last night and I woke up with a plugged duct! I followed steps 1-5. I used my breast pump too. I really appreciate the information!! It unclogged after exactly 4 hours!! Lol … I prayed a lot too for the whole 4 hours!!

    • Ps: I also completed step 7 as well!!

    • I don’t know if this helped but in addition to these steps I also put a hot compress on the area and messaged. I steeped loose lavender in my loose tea teapot like as if I was making tea and used the tea as the hot compress.

      • That’s what I’ve done. I actually make a lavender tea and do a compress with the tea as hot as I can stand it then gently massage and it usually it clears it up right away.

  22. Do you know if it’s possible to have a plugged duct in your armpit? One hour it wasn’t there, and the next hour it was! It happened after that side got super engorged.

    • Yes its possible…. I got them often before my baby started solids. Tip: try not to wear a bra too tightly or a shirt that’s too small & puts pressure on your pit area. Treat just like a clogged duct if you still have it. Mine were always pretty small up there (pea sized) and usually took 24-48 hrs to go away.

      • Thanks! It is still there, so I need to work at it more.

  23. I got full blown mastitis when my daughter was barely a week old, it was from a too tight bra and trying to do too much. It was like the most terrible flu, I had a fever and felt like death. I kicked it in 24 hrs by eating 4-5 cloves of organic garlic, vitamin c pills and alternating hot compress and sliced potatoes on the lump. I kept the garlic/vitamin c combo up for about three days to make sure it was gone. I never got it again thank God! 🙂 I got my info from KellyMom.com it’s a great resource for all things breastfeeding (not associated I just love the site)

  24. I had mastitis once and a clogged duct another time. With both of them I was told that basically you have to get the milk out. So I had to pump and nurse and while I did these I massaged my breast. It was SO painful but it took care of it and when you have that much pain from just sitting there then it’s worth it to go through that much pain to get rid of it. Good luck to any mom who has one or both of these issues.

  25. Dear Geneviere, speaking of blocked milk ducts….how is your bed time routine with Paloma? 9 hours!!?? I have a 2 weeks old and a 2 1/2 years old…. I am trying not to make the same mistakes I did with my first one…he is finally sleeping though the night 🙂 but it was rough for almost 2 years. He finally weaned when I was 30 weeks pregnant…
    Anyways anything will help…THANK YOU!

  26. After reading this post, I’m wondering if I constantly had clogged ducts on both sides. My daughter couldn’t get hardly any milk out of me, and when I pumped I had to massage my breasts very firmly (painful!) in order to get the milk to express. I wondered what was wrong with me. I think I didn’t have a let down either. Since I’m pregnant again and hope to be successful at breastfeeding this time, I’d love helpful advice. I had lactation consultants help me with the latch, so I know I had that right. I just couldn’t seem to produce much at all despite nursing regularly, and pumping in between, eating lots of protein, getting the latch right, and even taking prescription drugs to increase milk supply. Nothing worked. I just couldn’t produce, and then what little tiny bit I did produce I have to knead out of my breasts.

    • *had to knead (not have)

      Currently not breastfeeding. Pregnant with second child and hopeful for breastfeeding success this time around.

      • I was wondering have you had success this time around with breastfeeding?

    • Samantha, maybe you just aren’t producing enough milk. My midwife suggested that I eat oatmeal and cinnamon. I know this helped me with my last two babies. I currently have four children. The first one was the roughest and I ended up with mastitis. It was painful and I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. The next two were easy nursers, but I still feel like I had trouble with my third. It just seemed like he was constantly nursing and not satisfied. This is when I finally consulted my midwife and she suggested the oatmeal and cinnamon. Unfortunately, I had to wait until baby # four to try it, because by the time she suggested it I was already done nursing my third child and pregnant with the fourth. This baby is 6 months now and she is nursing very well. My supply is over abundant and I actually had to pump a lot right at the beginning to keep from being engorged. Good luck to you and I would still try the lavender, but also try the oatmeal and cinnamon. Oh, and also make sure you try to keep your stress level low as this can also cause clogged milk ducts.

    • Samantha, I was having issues getting milk and only seemed to when I did extensive massage during pumpings. (Baby has never had good suction, so I’ve been EP while still hoping she’ll get better at nursing…) Lactation MD finally told me my pump had low suction. I maxed it out, since I had already been using it at minimum settings, and suddenly my supply went up by about 40%. It hurt, and I probably shouldn’t have continued it as long as I did, but I had big plugs and probably lots of small ones, too, so this was a good change for me as it seemed to clear them. Then someone finally suggested I lower the suction because I would cause damage (my nipples had started to be a pretty weird pointy shape even when not pumping!), and my supply went up by another 30% without being in pain while pumping. After that I got a Lactina (SO much more comfortable than PIS) and have maintained the greatly increased supply on that. Of course, when I went to work this week and used my PIS again, I got a plug over the course of those 8 hours, which is why I’m reading this site… Point being: A crummy pump may contribute to the problem, or at least may not help get rid of existing plugs.

  27. On the third day after the birth, I got clogged during engorgement. I’ve done everything under the sun and it’s still there 2mo later. Oddly it never turned into mastitis or filled with puss. I had an ultrasound scan to verify this. I dished out a lot of cash for ultrasound heat therapies and even bought a top of the line home breast pump. I’m at the stage where I’m just going to let it be as it doesn’t hurt. Though I may try some of these suggestions, I doubt they’ll be strong enough to dislodge it. My doctor said that in some cases you get the little bead and it just stays there benign until you stop lactating altogether. Good luck to all the other mothers 🙂

    • Same here. I have 2 gnarly blisters on each nipple. It’s so calcified that my doc said the same thing. She won’t help dislodge until I’m done nursing. My problem is I’m getting a new one. Not sure how to prevent blisters from occurring.

  28. Genevieve, what does the potato do? Is it like cabbage?

    Personally, I get in a hot shower, pop any pimples or pimple looking things on my breast and nipple, hand express, feed off that side first, pump, and take ibuprofen. The moment the blockage comes free is quite painful, but worth it 🙂

  29. The best (and most natural!) recommendation I have gotten has been to nurse your kid with his/her chin pointing in the direction of the duct…not sure if that makes sense. For instance, if the duct in your right breast, on the side of your armpit, is causing trouble, do the football hold so that the baby’s chin is aligned with the duct.

    When that failed (seldom), I gently massaged until I got the huge amount of milk squirting several feet! Not gross, I thought it was kinda cool 🙂

    • I could see that however, when the breast tissue is really hard, the heat helps to soften. Cold would only make the area tighter, in my view.

      • I was told to first apply heat, massage, express milk, then apply cold.

  30. YES I had a plugged duct too. It was so painful and I was bawling my eyes out because it was so frustrating. I went to the lactation consultant who kneaded it out. It was excrutiating. Turns out that not only did I have a plugged duct I had bacteria. Anyway, I’m SOOO glad you are writing about this because for some time there I thought I was all alone. That’s why I felt I had to write about it to share my experience. Thank you Genevieve for writing about this.

    • Hi Leann, what did you do with bacteria? Did you have to take antibiotics?

      I am experiencing mastitis right now (not a clogged duct…probably just exhaustion). But I am trying to figure out what should I do 🙁

  31. What worked for me was the warm shower plus a really hot, hot compress (wash cloth), massage, pumping, nursing and when combined with a milk blister, something similar to what someone else said…the milk blister needs to be “popped” and the thick milk extracted before the clogged duct can be cleared. It happened to me at around 3 weeks post pardum and again a few months ago. Ouch!

    • I have a blister on my nipple since a month.. The hot fermentation, dipping the breast in hot water, I have tried all. … Nothing seemed to work.. Dipping the Breast in hot water before the nursing makes the nursing less painful but does not treat the blister.. How is the blister cured?

  32. I’ve had one a few times, always the same spot in the same breast, a sensitive area for me i guess, but i’ve always used the hot shower method. I massage the knot in the shower after letting the hot water run on it for a while and then manually express by putting way more pressure than is comfortable just above the knot running my palm down until i hit the nipple. Its damn near excruciating but im sure it’s a lot more pleasant than mastitis. It usually clears the duct right awat and oh the milk you’ll get if you pump after it unclogs.

  33. When my son started sleeping for longer stretches in the night, I would wake up with the same duct blocked. What worked for me was heat, then roll the nipple firmly between two fingers before a long pumping session on the affected side. I would pause the session and identify the blockage by looking for the pin sized white spot that had come to the surface from the heat and pumping. Using a sterile needle I would carefully and gently wiggle and puncture the blockage, then take two fingers and manually express by just pinching from the areola forward. I would literally see the stiff milk blockage shoot out, followed by the now flowing stream. I also added vibration to the heat on occasion but cannot say if that helped or not. Always fixed within 30 minutes with the needle trick.

  34. Oh I wish I had known about all of this the last 3 years! I have had recurrent clogged ducts. Heat and massage definitely help but the thing that helps the most is the lecithin. The minute I feel one coming on, I start taking it and it helps to prevent it from getting too bad.

  35. I had a plugged duct a couple weeks ago. Our two y old kicked my left breast when it was really full and that night I had a lump. It was sore and I had nursed that side so I thought it was just bruised and went to bed. In the middle of the night I woke up feeling like I had a fever and it was super sore. So I warmed my Bamboobies and put them in the bar on that side, took Advil, and messaged the lump. Then I got hubby up and he got my pump and I pumped that side and it cleared. I went back to sleep and woke up in the morning and it was still ok.

  36. I exclusively pumped for almost 15 months and I was getting them all the time and even had mastitis probably 10-15 times! until I started taking sunflower lecithin and cut down on saturated fats. I rarely got them after that. My midwife said that a pump just doesn’t work as well as a baby which is why I was getting them so often. Good luck.

    • How much of the sunflower lethicin should one take? I have not seen a dosage anywhere…

  37. For those of us who are unable to breastfeed and must exclusively pump, something that I found to be effective was similar to the gravity feeding. Replace the baby’s spot below you with a bowl of warm water and soak your breast for about 20 to 30 minutes replacing the water as needed. It worked for me 🙂

    • THANKYOU. I’m an EPer, doctors orders =( and I needed this so bad!

  38. I use a “rice hand” for my clogged ducts. I filled a cotton glove with rice, sewed up the end, and threw it in the microwave for 1 min. Let it cool a bit, so it doesn’t burn, and apply to breast tissue nearest clog. After 5 mins nurse your baby with the glove still in place. Works like a charm! The moist heat from the rice helps the ducts expand and let milk flow freer. Plus it’s a reusable thing. Feels great on sore muscles and joints as well. Got the idea from my great grandmother who was a full blood Hopi Indian.

  39. I ised to get recurring ducts and dangle feeding was my most effective tool because gravity helped the milk drain better. I later learned about the anti inflammatory properties of pinneaples and no longer get them since I started to eat it or at least drink the juice every few days.

    I will bookmark these suggestions as I help a lot of nursing mothers.

    • Thanks for sharing! LOVE pineapple 🙂

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