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Breast Infections and Inflammations

What is lactational mastitis?

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The most common type of breast infection is lactational mastitis. This happens when a woman is breastfeeding. The nipples become cracked and sore. This allows bacteria from the baby's mouth to enter the ducts and rapidly multiply in the milk. Sometimes an infection also occurs because of a blocked milk duct. In both cases, the breast becomes hard, reddened, hot, and painful.

Treatment for lactational mastitis

Treatment will depend on your symptoms, age, and general health. It will also depend on how severe the condition is.

Your healthcare provider may suggest trying to unblock the duct with warm compresses and massage. They may also prescribe antibiotics and an analgesic for pain. Your provider will advise completely emptying the breast of milk regularly. Emptying the breast completely will also help prevent lactational mastitis. In some cases, lactational mastitis progresses and forms a pus-filled infection (abscess). This is a more serious condition that may require drainage.

Online Medical Reviewer: Daniel N Sacks MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Donna Freeborn PhD CNM FNP
Online Medical Reviewer: Heather Trevino
Date Last Reviewed: 9/1/2020
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