Mastitis

Mastitis is painful swelling and redness in the breast. It is especially common among women who are breastfeeding. While it is most common in just one breast it can occur in both.

  • Causes

    Mastitis is often caused by trapped breast milk in a milk duct. The trapped breast milk can irritate the tissue around it and cause swelling and pain.

    Mastitis can also be caused by a bacterial infection in the breast tissue. Milk ducts or cracked skin around the nipple can allow bacteria to enter the breast and cause an infection.

    Mastitis often occurs during breastfeeding but, it is possible to get mastitis at other times. This article will focus on symptoms and treatment of lactation-associated mastitis.

  • Definition

    Mastitis is painful swelling and redness in the breast. It is especially common among women who are breastfeeding. While it is most common in just one breast it can occur in both.

    Mastitis
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  • Diagnosis

    Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. If the diagnosis is uncertain, or if mastitis recurs, your doctor may do a:

    • Culture of breast milk or nipple discharge

    • Breast
      ultrasound
      if an abscess is suspected

    In some cases, your doctor may want to look for other conditions that may cause similar symptoms. In these situations, other tests may be performed such as a:

    • Biopsy
      of the affected area
    • Mammogram
      or
      x-ray
      of the breast

  • Prevention

    To help reduce your chances of getting mastitis, take these steps:

    • Breastfeed frequently
    • Use a breast pump when you need to
    • Wash your hands and breast nipple before breastfeeding
    • Avoid wearing bras or clothing that is too tight
    • Avoid sleeping on your breasts, or allowing a baby to sleep on your breasts
    • If your nipples crack, apply lotion or cream as recommended by your doctor

  • Risk Factors

    Factors that may increase your risk of mastitis include:

    • Previous mastitis
    • Abrasion or cracking of the breast nipple
    • Yeast infection of the breast

    • Pressure on the breasts, caused by:

      • Wearing a bra or clothing that is too tight
      • Sleeping on the stomach
      • Holding the breast too tightly during feeding
      • Baby sleeping on the breast
      • Exercising, especially running, without a support bra

    • Anything that causes too much milk to remain in the breast, including:

      • Irregular breastfeeding
      • Missed breastfeeding, which may cause overdistention of the breast
      • Baby's teething
      • Use of supplemental bottle feeds
      • Incorrect positioning of the baby during feedings
      • Abrupt weaning

  • Symptoms

    Mastitis may cause:

    • Redness, tenderness, or swelling of the breast
    • Fever
    • Fatigue
    • Aches, chills, or other flu-like symptoms
    • A burning feeling in the breast
    • A hard feeling or tender lump in the breast
    • Pus draining from the nipple

  • Treatment

    Treatment may include:


    If you are diagnosed with mastitis, follow your doctor's
    instructions
    .