Mastitis is an infection that affects the breast tissue leading to inflammation. It is most commonly encountered in breastfeeding mothers, affecting an estimated 1 out of 10. However, this type of infection can impact women who are neither pregnant nor breastfeeding, and although rare, it can even occur in men.
How Does Mastitis Develop?
Bacteria exists everywhere, including on human skin and in saliva. This bacteria is typically harmless, unless it ends up somewhere it doesn’t belong like breast tissue. It may enter the body via cracked skin around the nipples. The infection can also develop from the development of bacteria in blocked milk ducts.
What are the Symptoms of Mastitis?
While mastitis can occur in both breasts, it is most commonly found in just one. Look for these symptoms in the affected breast:
- Inflammation of the breast that may feel hard and hot to the touch
- Redness of the breast
- A wedge-shaped lump or area of redness and inflammation
- Nipple discharge
- A burning sensation in the breast that may become more obvious while actively breastfeeding
- Flu-like symptoms of fever, chills, nausea, or headache
How is Mastitis Treated?
Mastitis is a serious infection that requires prompt care. However, it is typically quickly remedied with the use of oral antibiotics. Other treatments to improve comfort and reduce symptoms throughout the infection may include warm compresses, over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and massage of the area.
If you are experiencing the symptoms of mastitis, contact your obstetrician or gynecologist for an evaluation. In the Zachary area, Lane OB/GYN is home to several skilled providers who care for women in all stages of life, including new and breastfeeding mothers.