Breast Infections and Inflammations
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The most common type of breast infection is lactational mastitis. With this condition, which occurs 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.
Specific treatment for lactational mastitis will be determined by your physician based on:
- Your age, overall health, and medical history
- Extent of the condition
- Your tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies
- Expectations for the course of the condition
- Your opinion or preference
Your physician 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.
Nonlactational mastitis is similar to lactational mastitis but occurs in nonlactating women. In some cases, this condition occurs 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. Consult your physician for a diagnosis and treatment.
Chronic subareolar abscess is a breast infection that occurs infrequently. Surgery may be needed to stop this repeating infection. Consult your physician for a diagnosis and treatment.
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Last reviewed: 5/14/2013