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Lets discuss the meaning of mastitis first. Mastitis means the inflammation of the human breast tissue. (itis stands for inflammation).
This main type of mastitis most commonly occurs during lactation to breast feed the baby when the milk gets clogged in one of the lactiferous ducts. Lactiferous ducts are those through which milk travels to arrive at the nipple (as shown above) so it is basically an infected milk duct. It is usually referred to as breastfeeding or lactational mastitis.
The milk can get trapped in the ducts. It can then become a nidus for bacteria which then cause inflammation in the breast tissue. The overlying skin of the breast can become red due to the underlying inflammation.
Mastitis symptoms include:
- Nipple discharge, which may be white or may contain some streaks of blood
- A burning pain in your chest
- A swollen area of your breast that may become hot and tender to touch
Mastitis usually involves only one breast and hence it is one of the major things that separates it from other conditions.
Treatment of Mastitis:
- Warm up a towel using an iron and apply to your breast (it should feel warm not hot, we don’t want to burn the skin)
- Taking a hot shower can also help
- Do not stop breast feeding (remember it is the ducts that are blocked. Stopping breastfeeding will keep then clogged)
- In between feeds try to express milk by gently massaging the tender area towards the nipple
- Take paracetamol if you feel feverish
If your pain and condition does not improve within 24 to 36 hours contact a Medical Doctor (GP, Family physician, Internal Medicine Doctor). Most cases of lactational mastitis will settle on its own and you won’t require any antibiotics.
You can learn more about other breast conditions by reading medical literature below.