Mar 10, 2022

Table of contents

What is Mastitis?

Mastitis, which usually occurs in breastfeeding women, is an inflammatory disease of the breast tissue that can present with swelling, redness and pain in the breast, both infectious and non-infectious. It is a disease that starts from a non-infective inflammation, evolves into an infectious disease and can progress to an abscess form in the final stage. The form seen in breastfeeding women is called lactational mastitis. Mastitis can occur in breastfeeding women and, to a lesser extent, in non-breastfeeding women and men. The type of mastitis seen in women who are not breastfeeding is called non-lactational mastitis.

The biggest cause of mastitis caused by non-breastfeeding causes is smoking and the average age of onset is 35 years. This type of mastitis usually starts around the nipple. It is thought that smoking destroys the milk ducts in the nipple and therefore the nipple becomes open to bacteria. Idiopathic mastitis is a type of mastitis of unknown cause and occurs in people of young childbearing age. In these patients, the immune system reacts much more than normal against breast tissue. The type of mastitis seen in immunocompromised patients is tuberculous mastitis. In addition, although rare, mastitis can also be seen due to diseases such as fungal mastitis and sarcoidosis.

Mastitis Symptoms

Although the symptoms of mastitis vary depending on the condition of the disease, the disease is progressive. For this reason, the symptoms vary. Mastitis associated with breastfeeding affects approximately 20% of breastfeeding women and occurs in the first 6 weeks after giving birth. The general symptoms of mastitis are as follows:

  • Swelling of the lymph nodes in the armpit,
  • Burning sensation that occurs constantly or during breastfeeding,
  • Severe pain when touching the affected breast tissue,
  • Increased heat in the breast,
  • Redness of the breast,
  • Breast swelling
  • Tissue stiffness in the breast,

If the infection progresses, the following symptoms are observed in addition to those mentioned above:

  • General body pain,
  • Don't feel depressed,
  • Fatigue
  • Fatigue
  • Tremors
  • Fire,
  • Anxiety
  • Don't be stressed,

If mastitis is not treated, some complications may occur.

  • Late initiation of treatment or inadequate treatment may cause mastitis to recur.
  • In chronic and untreated mastitis, abscess formation is often observed.
  • Failure to treat an infection in the breast can cause it to spread throughout the body. This can result in sepsis.

Causes of Mastitis

The main reason for the occurrence of mastitis is that not all the milk in the breast is emptied and ponded in the breast and bacteria grow in this ponding.

Milk Duct Blockages

Milk accumulation in the breast, which is the most common cause of mastitis, can also occur due to obstruction of the milk ducts. The reasons for blockage of the milk ducts are failure to breastfeed the baby with the correct technique, weak sucking power of the baby and external pressure.

Bacterial Infection in the Breast

Under normal conditions, there are many bacteria living on the skin. These bacteria can move into the breast through cracks or scratches in the breast. On the other hand, cracks in the nipple prevent babies from breastfeeding properly and also affect the oral flora of babies.

In addition, materials containing plastic, such as breast pads used by mothers, cause irritation in the nipple. This irritation sets the stage for mastitis.

Other Causes

Other causes of mastitis are as follows:

  • Engaging in behaviors that impede milk flow, such as wearing a tight bra for long periods of time or carrying heavy weights,
  • Smoking,
  • Malnutrition,
  • Excessive fatigue and stress,
  • Never had mastitis before,

How is Mastitis Diagnosed?

The patient's history and physical examination are usually sufficient to diagnose mastitis. If abscess formation is present, then ultrasound imaging and drainage of the abscess may be necessary.

A type of cancer called inflammatory breast cancer shows similar symptoms to mastitis. If the specialist suspects this, then a mammogram is recommended. or may ask for a piece of the breast to be removed.

Mastitis Treatment

Medication is usually sufficient in the treatment of mastitis.

Antibiotic Treatment

In the treatment of mastitis caused by infection, antibiotic treatment lasting between 7 and 10 days is applied. It is important to use all the antibiotics prescribed for this in order to prevent recurrence of mastitis.


Medicines with paracetamol as an active ingredient are used to relieve the sensation of pain in the breast.


The most important aspect of mastitis treatment is the need to continue breastfeeding. It is even necessary to breastfeed more frequently during this period to regulate milk flow and thus prevent the symptoms of mastitis from worsening.

If breastfeeding is stopped, there is more ponding. This can lead to abscess formation. Continuing breastfeeding during mastitis does not transmit germs to babies. Because breast milk contains high levels of anti-inflammatories. Some babies do not want to suck from the breast with mastitis. This is due to the change in the taste of the milk. In this case, the breast should be emptied completely and frequently with a pump.

Home Remedies for Mastitis

  • During breastfeeding, start breastfeeding from the breast with mastitis first. This is because when babies are hungry, they suck more strongly and provide more milk.
  • Pumping the remaining milk in the breast,
  • Breastfeeding in different positions, avoiding the same position,
  • Massage from the top to the bottom of the breast,
  • Drink plenty of fluids,
  • Take a warm shower,
  • Rest
  • Applying warm-hot compresses to the breast,

What to Do to Avoid Mastitis

Breastfeeding mothers often experience stiffness and pain in their breasts. In order to prevent this birth from progressing and turning into mastitis, correct breastfeeding techniques should be applied. The points to be considered for this are the following.

  • Avoid filling the breast with too much milk. For this reason, babies should be breastfed frequently.
  • Make sure that the baby fully grasps the nipple and head.
  • If necessary, the breast should be placed by hand.
  • If there is a delay in milk coming from the breast, massage should be done before breastfeeding.
  • The baby should be breastfed in different positions so that all quadrants are emptied.
  • If milk remains in the breast after breastfeeding, it should be expressed.
  • Nipple moisture should be supported with creams.
  • The baby should be weaned gradually.
  • No pressure should be applied on the breast.
  • Hygiene must be observed.
  • Probiotics should be used.
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