An infected milk duct refers to the inflammation of the breast tissue around the milk ducts, which then presses on the milk ducts. It is also referred to as mastitis or rather a breast infection. One of the major causes of an infected milk duct is a bacteria known as Staphylococcus aureus, which is found on normal skin. This bacteria then gets into the milk duct via a cracked/damaged nipple thus causing an infection. An infected milk duct is common among women who are breastfeeding and have recently been experiencing blocked milk ducts. Regardless, if there is any other underlying issue which can result in inflammation of the breast tissue, it could also lead to the development of mastitis/ infected milk duct.
How Do You Treat An Infected Milk Duct?
The outlook of an infected milk duct is good, as it easily clears with antibiotic therapy, which is the major treatment procedure for such a condition. In addition to that, self-care is also important a few times a day. Without further ado, let us look at how infected milk duct can be treated;
Antibiotic Therapy To Treat Infected Milk Duct
The best way to treat any bacterial infection in the body is via antibiotics. They are medicine which attacks any bacterium in the body and inhibits their growth by destroying them. Common antibiotics used in treating an infected milk duct are cephalexin, dicloxacillin, amoxicillin, nafcillin, oxacillin, ampicillin, and vancomycin to name a few. The antibiotics should be taken for a period not less than 10-14 days and you should ensure you complete the dosage.
Massage For Infected Milk Duct
One symptom of an infected milk duct is a hard lump in the breast of the affected side. Massaging the area with the swelling (hard lump), will help clear the plugged duct and thus reducing some symptoms such as intense pain. The best time to massage the clogged milk duct is during breastfeeding and should be done in a gentle manner.
Even when the infection is serious and the breast is engorged and in a lot of pain, massage will be helpful in finally clearing the clogged milk duct and improving the infection as well.
Use Of Warm Compressors/Showers
Warm compressors/showers will help soften breast tissue as well as the infected milk duct. Using a clean towel cloth, you can soak it in warm water then place it above the affected area on the breast. If you are taking a warm shower, stand beneath the shower with your breasts directly underneath the shower and let the warm water caress the breasts. For better results, immediately massage the breast in-between the heat therapy then breastfeed shortly after.
Treating Damaged Nipples
The bacterium causing the infection in the milk duct often enters into the duct via a damaged nipple. If the cause is a cracked nipple, you could apply lanolin cream to take care of the damage. You should also breastfeed often since breast milk will also help with the healing process of the nipple. Make sure you take better care of your nipples so as to prevent a recurrence of infected milk duct and also save yourself from the pain that arises with an infected breast.
Nursing/Expressing Breast Milk
The fact that you have an infected milk duct on one breast does not call for a need to stop breastfeeding. On the contrary, you should feed from the affected breast more frequently, and always start with that side so as to allow for milk let-down. If the baby is unable to completely drain the breast milk, pump it out, to avoid further complications with the infection.
Symptoms Of An Infected Milk Duct
The common symptoms of an infected milk duct include;
- A lump in the breast on the affected side
- Breast pain that is localized within the area with the lump
- Flu-like symptoms including a high fever, chills, nausea, and vomiting
- Tenderness and warmth in the breast when touched
- Redness on the affected breast
- Nipple discharge which may or may not contain abscess (pus)
An infected milk duct can be treated primarily with antibiotics as well as with several home remedies. What is most important is ensuring that the symptoms the patient is experiencing are relieved and the infection gets cleared. For pain relief, you should take pain medications that are safe for nursing mothers. After breastfeeding you could also apply an ice pack to help with the tenderness as well. Also, drink plenty of water and eat foods which will help boost your immune system in fighting against the infection.