Breast infection occurs within the tissue of the breast. Breast infection generally occurs to those women who breastfeed their child, as the bacteria from baby’s mouth enters and cause breast infection to the breast. Breast infection also known as mastitis. This is not necessary that breast infection only occurs to the women who breastfeed their child but it also occurs to women who aren’t breastfeeding, but it is not that common.
Breast contains fatty tissue and the infection typically affects fatty tissue and cause swelling, lumps and pain. Most of the breast infection cause due to breastfeeding or clogged milk ducts. In very few cases breast infection can be the result of breast cancer.
What causes a breast infection?
Breast infection are usually caused by common bacteria found on normal skin. The bacteria enter through a break or crack in the skin, usually on the nipple. The infection takes place in the fatty tissue of the breast and causes swelling. This swelling pushes on the milk ducts.
Some of the common cause of breast infection are not drinking of enough water or fluids as this results in less flow of milk and blood in breast and body respectively. Some women when after having a baby are not in a position to take care of their body and that will results in no or less cleaning of the breast area which results in some kind of breast infection.
Another term people do ask is swollen breast and its causes
Swollen breast occurs before the period start as the estrogen production increases. One another reason for swollen breast is hormonal shift as it can cause breast ducts and milk glands to become enlarged. Swollen breast sometimes can be the result of untreated breast infection.
How to prevent breast infection?
Women are advised to use these tips so that chances of developing breast infections can be minimized:
- Try to avoid the use of soap and intense cleaning of the nipple, because this area has self-cleaning and lubricating ability.
- Try to avoid changes in schedule of breastfeeding
- Do empty one breast every feeding and then alternate breast.
- Try to add some saturated fat to your diet daily to try to reduce the risk of developing reoccurring plugged ducts
- Massage the breasts sometimes if you have a feeling of thickening or lump.
- Do try the feed your child in different positions.
- Apply warm wet towels to the breast before feeding to increase milk flow.
Here are some of the home remedies for breast infection:
Apple cider vinegar:
Apple cider vinegar is the excellent home remedy for breast infection. Its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties help reduce inflammation, fight infection and prevent it from spreading. It also offers an added energy of boost.
Prepare a solution with 1 part apple cider vinegar and 2 parts warm water. Apply this solution on the affected area using a cotton ball. Allow it to sit for 15 minutes, then rinse it off with warm water. Repeat 2 to 3 times daily until the infection clears.
Alternatively Mix 1 tablespoon of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar and a little honey in a cup of water. Drink it 3 times daily for 1 to 2 weeks.
According to Ayurveda, fenugreek stimulates the milk producing glands and, at the same time helps treat breast infection. Plus, it has flavonoids that help reduce inflammation and infections.
Soak 4 tablespoons of fenugreek seeds in water overnight. The next morning, grind the soaked seeds into a paste. Place the paste on a clean cloth and warm it slightly in the microwave.
Now use it as a warm compress on the infected area. Repeat this remedy twice daily for 1 to 2 weeks. You can also drink a cup of fenugreek tea 2 or 3 times a day until you get positive results.
Aloe vera has natural healing powers and pain relieving properties that can help reduce many of the discomforts of breast infection. It also helps repair damaged skin tissue and heal infected skin.
Extract the gel from an aloe vera leaf. Apply this fresh gel on the affected area. Allow it to dry on its own. Rinse it off with lukewarm water and pat dry with a soft towel. Repeat several times a day for a few days. Note: wash the aloe vera off your breast before breastfeeding your baby.
Calendula can provide relief from pain and swelling, two of the most common symptoms of breast infection. In addition, its antibacterial properties helps to get rid of the bacteria causing the infection.
Prepare a paste using equal amounts of calendula flowers and comfrey leaves. Slightly warm this paste before applying it to the inflamed breast. Leave it on for 15 minutes, then rinse it off with warm water.
You can even apply a calendula ointment onto the affected breast a few times daily. Note: make sure to wash the breast with lukewarm water before feeding your baby.
Eat foods with vitamin C:
Vitamin C helps fight breast infection and heal damaged skin tissue. Moreover, this vitamin boosts your immune system and helps speed up recovery.
Eat vitamin C rich foods like oranges, limes, lemons, kiwis, guavas, papaya, strawberries, kale, mustard greens, broccoli and parsley. You can also take vitamin supplements after consulting with a doctor.
Now some general tips that I would like to share with you here are, wear comfortable, loose clothing to avoid friction against the nipples.
- To reduce the risk of breast infection, keep the nipple area clean and dry between feedings.
- During breastfeeding, do make sure that the baby properly latches on to the breast.
- Do ensure complete drainage of the breasts by changing the baby’s position during each feeding.
- If required, use a breast pump to empty milk from your breasts. Nursing mothers should get proper rest and sleep to reduce the risk of infection.
- Try to not lying on your stomach as it can affect the milk flow in the breasts which can cause breast infection.
- Drink plenty of fluids to keep your body hydrated and which will help milk flow in a steady rate.
- Do not allow your baby to use your breast as a pacifier.
- Do not take any kind of stress to prevent complication in the breast and to avoid any kind of stoppage in milk flow.
- If you are using nursing pads, replace them frequently to ensure they are dry and clean.