Breast Infections and Inflammations
What is lactational mastitis?
The most common type of breast infection is lactational mastitis. This happens when a woman is breastfeeding. The nipples become cracked and sore, allowing bacteria from the baby's mouth to enter the ducts and rapidly multiply in the milk. Occasionally, infection also arises from a blocked milk duct. In both cases, the breast becomes hard, reddened, hot, and painful.
Treatment for lactational mastitis
Specific treatment for lactational mastitis will be determined by your healthcare provider based on:
Your age, overall health, and medical history
Extent of the condition
Your tolerance for specific medicines, procedures, or therapies
Expectations for the course of the condition
Your opinion or preference
Your healthcare provider may suggest trying to unblock the duct with warm compresses and massage. He or she may also prescribe antibiotics and an analgesic for pain. In some cases, lactational mastitis progresses and forms an abscess, a more serious condition that may require drainage.
What is nonlactational mastitis?
Nonlactational mastitis is similar to lactational mastitis but occurs in nonlactating women. In some cases, this condition happens in women who have had lumpectomies followed by radiation therapy, in women with diabetes, or in women whose immune systems are depressed.
While this condition is rare, it is usually accompanied by high fever and headache and treated with antibiotics. Talk with your healthcare provider for a diagnosis and treatment.
What is chronic subareolar abscess?
Chronic subareolar abscess is a breast infection that does not happen often. Surgery may be needed to stop this repeating infection. Consult your healthcare provider for a diagnosis and treatment.
- Foster, Sara, RN, MPH
- Horowitz, Diane, MD