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What Are Cuddle Marks + Why Are They Confused With Breast Acne?

Cuddle marks look like breast acne but they’re not.

Breast acne (also known as breastne or chestne) is infected oil glands. While cuddle marks, are scarring from baby nails.

Cuddle Marks vs Breast Acne, Breastne, Chest Acne, Chestne on brown skin side by side photo

What Causes Cuddle Marks?

Babies like to hold and pump the breast while nursing.

Because baby nails are so tiny and mighty, they can slice the skin during the process which creates marks on the upper chest.

How To Prevent Cuddle Marks?

You can carefully trim baby nails. I like to do it when our baby's sleeping because any slight movement with sharp clippers can hurt them.

Pull back the skin underneath their fingertips to fully expose the nail. Now that the skin is out of the way, cut straight across with baby clippers. Then file the corners following their natural nail arch. Filing helps to smooth the sharp edges created after clipping the nail.

Why Is Baby-Sized Nail Equipment Important?

Adult nail clippers are designed for adult-sized hands and feet. Which means they tend to be larger, stronger and bulkier than the tools needed for baby hands. Smaller clippers are better fit for teeny hands, and will also help you get a more precise cut.

How Often Should You Trim Baby Nails?

Baby nails grow super fast, but every baby is different. Set an alarm on your phone so that every day around nap time it reminds you to file or trim before you join them.

baby nail trimming reminder set at 1:00pm

Why Not Use Baby Mittens?

Baby mittens are super cute fingerless gloves that cover the teeniest hands. They allegedly ward off germs and are used to prevent newborns from scratching themselves during the first few weeks when they have limited control over their bodies. For example, when they are startled they may unintentionally scratch themselves.

But during feeds, babies really love to touch and hold their food (your breasts). This play supports vital stages in their development such as…

  • Mastering fine motor skills

  • Cause-and-effect

  • Sensory exploration

  • Nerve connection development

  • Social interaction

  • Problem solving,

  • Hand-eye coordination

  • (and probably so much more)

Kneading and holding also has practical use for the mother. It helps with milk let down and keeps the inner workings of the bosom healthy. Meaning, when the baby massages the breast, they are making sure that milk is efficiently being emptied from every corner of the internal ducts and lobules.

Here’s Khan Academy’s breast anatomy video if you're interested.

Baby touch also serves as a signal to the brain that a baby is close by and needs to be fed. Their hands are also naturally warm supporting the milk production system even more.

Do You Have to Cut Their Nails?

You don’t have to. But not trimming the nails means they may scratch themselves or you.

How To Heal The Scars?

When the skin is cut, blood typically isn’t noticeable, because the cuts are so teeny. But a scab will naturally form after a few days, turn black and fall off to reveal a hypopigmented area.

Why Are Cuddle Marks Confused With Breast Acne?

They can resemble each other during the scarring phase when dark pigmented blotches/spots are scattered on the chest.

Unlike breast acne, there is no need to buy special products.

Try not to pick the scabs or interfere with the healing process. Simply cleanse and moisturize as usual. Ample air, sun, and our body's natural self-rejuvenating powers will eventually even out the skin.

How To Not Feel Self-Conscious About The Way Your Breasts Look?

While nursing, breasts look very different from your pre-baby bosom. Along with cuddle marks, you may have vertical stretch marks, elongated nipples, a dramatic sag, and pronounced areolar glands. These are all signs of a healthy and properly functioning bosom that will give your child the optimal nourishment and keep your female reproductive system in good health.

Know that the appearance is temporary.

Choosing the right neckline, fabrics that feel good and colors that compliment your complexion may help you feel more beautiful and confident.

It’s ideal to find a temporary uniform or mom wardrobe that you absolutely love. That makes you feel super confident and sexy in your post-delivery body.

Here's my minimalistic wardrobe if you’re interested. I stick to breastfeeding-friendly colors that aren’t overly stimulating such as nude, black and white. I also wear scoop-neck camisoles with shelf bras and plunge-cup bralettes. Depending on your shape, moisture-wicking sports bras are pretty helpful and can give your chest a nice silhouette.

Have you experienced cuddle marks? What part of your nursing journey did you have the most? How do you dress your breasts?

Until next time…

Love the Journey,

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