Mastitis, an inflammation or infection of breast tissue, occursmost commonly in breastfeeding women, although it may also occur in nonlactating women. The infection may result from a transfer of microorganisms to the breast by the patient’s hands or those of others or from a breastfed infant with an oral, eye, or skin infection. Mastitis may also be caused by bloodborne organisms. As inflammation progresses, an infection of the ducts results, causing milk to stagnate in one or more of the lobules. The breast texture becomes tough or doughy, and the patient complains of dull pain in the infected region. A nipple that is discharging pu-rulent material, serum, or blood needs to be investigated.
Treatment consists of antibiotics and local heat. A broad-spectrum antibiotic agent may be prescribed for 7 to 10 days. The patient should wear a snug bra and perform personal hygiene carefully. Adequate rest and hydration are important aspects of management.
A breast abscess may develop as a consequence of acute mastitis. In such a case, the area affected becomes tender and red. Puru-lent matter can usually be expressed from the nipple, and incision and drainage are usually required. At the time of drainage, spec-imens are obtained for culture.
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