What is mastitis?

Mastitis is an inflammation of the mammary glands caused, usually, by an infection. Common symptoms include swelling, pain, redness and sometimes a mild fever.

What symptoms does it present?

The usual symptoms of mastitis are:

  • Breast pain
  • Swelling
  • The breast is sensitive to the touch and flushed
  • Swollen lymph nodes in the armpits
  • Fever and chills
  • Fatigue

What causes mastitis?

One of the main causes of mastitis is the lack of hygiene. However, this condition often occurs when a woman is breastfeeding. During breastfeeding, the skin of the nipples can crack and allow the bacteria that live on the skin to penetrate the fatty tissue of the breast. The proliferation of bacteria produces a blockage that makes it difficult for milk to exit through the mammary ducts.

Can mastitis be prevented?

Breastfeeding helps prevent mastitis. When the baby sucks, the ducts are emptied and cleaned of possible infections or obstructions that may occur.

What is the treatment for mastitis?

To eliminate the infection, you will usually be prescribed antibiotics and analgesics to relieve pain. Other recommendations are the application of local heat through damp cloths for 15-20 minutes four times a day, good hygiene, avoiding prolonged periods without breastfeeding or using a milk pump. It is also essential to get enough rest and drink plenty of fluids. If mastitis is not treated properly and the infection gets worse, an abscess may occur. The abscesses must be drained, either through outpatient treatment or surgery.