Lactation Mastitis

Lactation mastitis is an infection to the breast tissue which is associated with pain, inflammation (redness), and malaise. This condition occurs during the period of breastfeeding, most commonly during the first six weeks postpartum.

If lactation mastitis is left untreated, it may form breast abscesses associated with localized collection of pus within the tissue; this may turn fatal.

It may occur with or without any infection.

Types of lactation mastitis

The absence of signs of infection makes it clear that the condition is caused due to milk stasis. Milk stasis is nothing but buildup of milk within the breast tissue in your lactating period.

Lactation mastitis with infection is the common form and is presented as a breakage in the nipple or skin near the breast. This is usually caused by staphylococcus bacteria.

Causes

The main causes of lactation mastitis are by the bacterial infection or by milk stasis. Bacteria if present on the skin is harmless but when it tries to enter the breast tissue it will cause infection and breakage of the nipple or the breast skin.

Milk stasis makes the milk build up in the milk ducts this may cause inflammation and may lead to infection later.

The following factors can increase your risk of developing lactation mastitis:

  • History of mastitis
  • Wearing a tight bra
  • Cracks in the nipples
  • Breastfeeding for the first few weeks
  • Always using the same position while breastfeeding

The above factors may make you susceptible to the infections of breast tissue or may increase the risk of milk build up in one or both breasts.

You may observe that your breasts are enlarged or swelled; there can be a feel of tenderness or sensation of warmth near the affected area. You may feel itching. Your body temperature would increase and may find small cut near your nipple.

Your doctor performs a medical history review to identify the signs and symptoms. Later he would perform a physical examination which would reveal signs such as the wedge-shaped area near the breast that is tender to touch and protrudes down to the nipple.

Your doctor would rule out if there is any presence of abscess formation because it could be a complication of lactation mastitis.

Your doctor may collect the sample of milk and would send it for a culture test; this helps your doctor to prescribe the best antibiotic if the type of mastitis is associated with infection.

If the signs and symptoms persist even after antibiotic treatment, your doctor would recommend for a mammogram to check out for the presence of cancer.

  • Antibiotics are usually prescribed. You must take them for two weeks to avoid recurrence.
  • Pain relieving medications such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen are also prescribed.
  • Your doctor would ask a lactation consultant to monitor the way you breastfeed the baby to ensure if the correct technique is being followed.
  • You will be asked to rest well and continue to breastfeed the baby; it is good for you to take more fluids to fight up the infections.