Mastitis and Blocked Milk Ducts

Mastitis is described as an infection of breast tissue whereas blocked milk ducts is characterised by inflammation. Blocked milk ducts with or without flu-like symptoms are experienced by 25% of breastfeeding women. 

Causes

  • Blocked ducts are caused by a build up of dry milk in the milk ducts which can subsequently become infected (mastitis).

  • The risk factors for blocked ducts are attachment difficulties, cracked and sore nipples, compression from a tight bra and a change in feeding frequency.

Signs & Symptoms

  • Firm and tender lump in the breast

  • Redness

  • Heat

  • Flu-like symptoms: fever, malaise (only present in mastitis)

Differential Diagnosis

  • Breast abscess

  • Breast cancer

PROmotion Assessment 

  • Ultrasound treatment

  • Heat before feeding, cool compress after feeding

  • Gentle massage towards the nipple while feeding

  • Changes in feeding position

  • Vibration to the breast

  • Avoidance of tight bras and clothing

  • Treatment of sore nipples

How to Manage

  • Ultrasound treatment

  • Heat before feeding, cool compress after feeding

  • Gentle massage towards the nipple while feeding

  • Changes in feeding position

  • Vibration to the breast

  • Avoidance of tight bras and clothing

  • Treatment of sore nipples

References

  1. Fetherston, C. (2016). Risk Factors for Lactation Mastitis. J Hum Lact, 14(2), 101-109. https://doi.org/10.1177/089033449801400209