Are You Bothered by Recurring Breast Pain?

What is mastitis?

Mastitis is a condition that affects breast tissue. The painful state causes one breast to become swollen, red and inflamed. In occasional cases, it affects both breasts. It is a type of benign breast disease.

Who might get mastitis?

It is most commonly occurring during the first six to 12 weeks of breastfeeding. Nevertheless men, as well as women who aren’t breastfeeding, also get mastitis. Females more likely to get mastitis if you have:

  • Breast implants.
  • Diabetes or other autoimmune disease.
  • Eczema or similar skin disorder.
  • Marks in skin from plucking or shaving chest hairs.
  • Nipple piercing.
  • Tobacco or nicotine addiction.

What are the types of mastitis?

The different forms of mastitis include:

Lactation: This type affects breastfeeding women. Likewise called puerperal mastitis, it’s the most common.

Periductal: Menopausal and postmenopausal females and smokers are more disposed to periductal mastitis. Also termed as mammary duct ectasia, this state occurs when milk ducts thicken. The nipple on the affected breast may go inside and secrete a milky discharge.

What causes mastitis?

This happens when bacteria found on skin or saliva enter breast tissue through a milk duct or crack in the skin. Milk ducts are a part of breast anatomy that transport milk to the nipples. Infection also occurs when milk backs up due to a blocked milk duct or difficult breastfeeding technique. Bacteria cultivate in the stagnant milk. Some of the reasons which increase the risk of a nursing mom developing mastitis:

  • Cracked, sore nipples.
  • Inappropriate latching method or using only one position to breastfeed.
  • Avoid wearing tight-fitting bras that restrict milk flow.

What are the indications of mastitis?

Several individuals with mastitis develop a wedge-shaped red mark on one breast. The breast may be swollen and feel hot or sensitive to touch. You may also experience:

  • Breast lumps.
  • Breast pain or burning sensation that worsens when your baby nurses.
  • Fatigue.
  • Flu-like symptoms, including fever and chills.
  • Headaches.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Nipple discharge.

How is mastitis diagnosed?

Your physician will do a physical exam and check your symptoms to make a diagnosis. You may get a mammogram or other tests to rule out breast cancer or a different breast condition if you aren’t breastfeeding.

Does mastitis raise your risk of breast cancer?

It doesn’t increase your risk of breast cancer. Yet, mastitis symptoms are similar to inflammatory breast cancer symptoms. This rare type of breast cancer causes breast skin variations. Signs may comprise dimples and a breast rash that has an orange-peel texture. Like mastitis, one or both breasts may become red and swollen. Inflammatory breast cancer is a violent cancer. It needs prompt diagnosis and treatment. 

Is it harmless to breastfeed when you have mastitis?

Absolutely, you should continue to nurse your baby. You can’t transmit a breast infection to your baby via breast milk. Additionally, breast milk has antibacterial properties that help babies fight infections. Antibiotics that your doctor recommends for mastitis are also safe for your baby.

How is mastitis managed?

Your doctor may prescribe an oral antibiotic to treat mastitis. The infection should clear up within a few days but may last as long as three weeks. It sometimes goes away without medical treatment.

To reduce pain and inflammation, you can:

  • Put on warm, moist compresses to the affected breast every few hours or take a warm shower.
  • Feed your baby every two hours or more often to keep milk flowing through the milk ducts. If required, use a breast pump to express milk between feedings.
  • Drink sufficient fluids and rest when possible.
  • Massage the area using a gentle circular motion starting at the outside of the affected area and working in toward the nipple.
  • Take over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
  • Use a supportive bra that doesn’t compress the breast.

How can I avoid mastitis?

Breastfeeding moms can take these steps to lower their chances of getting mastitis:

  • Air out your nipples after nursing.
  • Avoid wearing nursing pads or tight-fitting bras that keep nipples moist.
  • Nurse your baby on one side, permitting the breast to empty, before switching to the other breast.
  • Change up breastfeeding positions to fully empty all areas of the breast.
  • Practice your finger to break your baby’s suction on a nipple if you need to stop feeding.