Puerperal mastitis is a medical term used to describe an inflammation involving one or both breasts that results from pregnancy or breastfeeding. Early symptoms typically include pain, redness, and swelling involving the breast tissue. If left untreated, flu-like symptoms may develop, sometimes culminating in a visible abscess. Puerperal mastitis is most frequently caused by a type of bacteria known as staphylococcus, although an excess milk supply or blocked milk ducts may also contribute to the development of this condition. Any questions or concerns about puerperal mastitis or the most appropriate treatment options for an individual situation should be discussed with a doctor or other medical professional.
The exact cause of puerperal mastitis can vary from case to case. Many instances of the inflammation are infectious in nature, frequently caused by the staphylococcus bacteria. Cracked or bleeding nipples often leave the body susceptible to this type of infection. This kind of bacterial infection can be passed back and forth between the mother and baby, so doctors will usually treat both with a round of prescription antibiotics. While any potential signs of infection should be reported to a doctor for further medical evaluation, a visible sore or abscess should be reported immediately in order to avoid the possibility of severe complications developing.
Blocked milk ducts or engorgement may contribute to the development of puerperal mastitis in some cases. These are common issues affecting breastfeeding mothers, and early treatment can often lessen the severity of the symptoms. In addition to the use of prescription antibiotics, warm compresses may help to ease the pain and discomfort associated with this condition. Wearing a properly fitting bra is important, as a tight bra may increase the risks of developing problems such as puerperal mastitis. In the most severe cases, it may become necessary to stop the lactation process so that the infection can be aggressively treated, although this is not a commonly used treatment method.
The initial symptoms of puerperal mastitis often include redness and swelling of the affected breast, with some degree of discomfort being frequently reported as well. The discomfort may range from mildly unpleasant to becoming so painful that the patient cannot raise the arm on the affected side of the body. A discoloration of the breast tissue may occur as the condition progresses, and flu-like symptoms such as fever and fatigue may become present. Breastfeeding may become extremely painful or even impossible in the more severe cases of infection.