How to Treat Mastitis With Natural Remedies
In the most cases, mastitis occurs in breastfeeding women. But, occasionally, mastitis may happen in non-lactating women, but only a doctor can confirm mastitis in such case. Pain and unusual warmth in the breasts, red or swollen skin around them can be signs of mastitis. Sometimes women who have mastitis may also experience high fever or chills.
Symptoms of mastitis
WebMD defines mastitis as an infection of the breast tissues commonly affecting lactating women. Some health care specialists believe that mastitis is most likely to happen during the first 3 months after delivering a baby, but other studies claim that mastitis may occur at any time during the breastfeeding period. Another popular medical belief is that mastitis can affect only one breast at once.
In most cases, mastitis causes a plugged milk duct which doesn’t allow breast milk to be drained. The breast milk’s blockage leads to infectious buildup.
Frequently mastitis symptoms can be confused with blocked milk ducts and engorgement caused by other reasons like the absence of milk or stress. In these cases, the blocked milk ducts may be untreated. But if a woman has mastitis, her condition will only worsen without the proper treatment.
According to the Mayo Clinic staff, the most common symptoms of mastitis are:
- Considerable discomfort in the breast area;
- Extreme fatigue;
- Mild-to-moderate pain;
- Feeling hot;
- Feeling of tenderness.
Women with mastitis may also feel a lump in the affected breast. There is also possible nipple discharge. The lymph nodes located under the arm, near the infected breast, may become swollen and tender. In many cases of mastitis, women may experience high fever and other flu symptoms.
Because of mastitis, breastfeeding may become more painful than normal and the woman may want to wean her baby sooner than necessary.
What causes mastitis?
According to the Mayo Clinic staff, mastitis is a breast infection caused by a skin bacteria known as staphylococcus aureus. The bacteria may enter the breasts through cracks on the nipples. As a result, bacteria prevent the milk from draining causing the plugged duct. Mastitis is not contagious. Also, there is no scientifically backed proof that it can be caused by hereditary causes.
The risk factors which can lead to mastitis:
- Poor hygiene habits;
- Dry and cracked nipples.
What are antibiotics for mastitis?
Health care specialists tend to treat this breast infection by means of common antibiotics. The patient’s medical history and physical tests allow them finding proper antibiotics for mastitis by individual case. If you are wondering how to treat mastitis, consider taking (at your risk) these oral mastitis antibiotics:
- Cephalexin is also known under its brand name Keflex;
Both antibiotics can be effective in killing the bacteria causing mastitis, especially after draining a breast abscess. However, using them without consulting a doctor is not recommended because the potentially dangerous chemicals may hurt the breastfeeding baby.
Home mastitis treatments with natural remedies
Instead of the antibiotics, which could be potentially risky for the baby’s health, you may consider using a natural mastitis cure. Some popular natural remedies for mastitis are:
Cold and hot compresses
Applying both cold and hot compresses to the affected breasts may be helpful in reducing swelling and painful sensations. Hot compresses may also help clear the plugged milk ducts and improve the blood circulation in breasts. You can make the compresses in this way:
- For a hot compress, wrap a hot water bottle in a thin towel;
- For a cold compress, wrap a few ice cubes in a thin towel;
- At first, apply the hot compress on the affected breast and leave it for 15 minutes;
- Afterward, place the cold compress for 5 more minutes;
- Repeat the whole procedure 2-3 times throughout the day.
Regular massages of the infected breast may help in unblocking the clogged milk ducts and reducing swelling. Health care specialists recommend massaging in small circles from the outer breast towards the nipple, pressing a bit harder on the affected area. The massage can be done with a mixture of wheat germ and apricot oils. Alternatively, you may mix 2 tablespoons of olive oil with a few drops of camphor oil. Consider repeating the massage several times throughout the day.
This is a popular “grandma’s remedy” for the infected and inflamed breasts. Due to sulfur in its content, cabbage leaves may reduce the swelling and inflammation in the milk ducts. You can use cabbage leaves for mastitis like this:
- Let a few cabbage leaves cool down in a fridge for 30 minutes;
- Apply a cold leaf on the affected breast;
- When the leaf gets warmer, put it away and replace with a new cold leaf;
- Repeat several times throughout the day.
This herb may rapidly boost the immune system and fight off bacteria thanks to flavonoids in its content. You may use Echinacea in a few ways:
- Rub the herb’s root on the affected area at least 5 times throughout the day. Clean the area with lukewarm water;
- You can also add 4 drops of the Echinacea tincture to a glass of distilled water. Drink this water 4 times throughout the day, no longer than for a week.
For natural mastitis relief, you may apply some calendula paste that may kill the bacteria instantly. You can make it in this way:
- Mash a few calendula flowers and comfrey leaves;
- Warm the paste and then apply to the affected breast;
- Leave it for 15 minutes;
- Wash off with lukewarm water;
- Repeat the procedure 4 times throughout the day.
How can you prevent mastitis?
Health care specialists recommend that breastfeeding women following a few guidelines that may help prevent mastitis:
- Try keeping the nipples cleans and dry;
- Try to stay hydrated within a day. The recommended intake of fluids is 10-12 glasses of water, teas, or juices;
- Consider wearing comfortable and loose clothing to prevent friction against sensitive nipples;
- Make sure to completely drain of each breast during every feeding – if necessary, use a breast pump to drain milk from the breasts;
- Get proper rest, because tiredness may only worsen mastitis symptoms;
- While breastfeeding, try different positions, because some may prevent the proper milk flow;
- Consider avoiding any chemical lotions and creams because their contents can lead to breast infections, including mastitis;
- If you prefer using nursing pads, replace them frequently.
It is important to keep in mind that mastitis may cause serious complications leading to gangrene and blood infections. If you have the blocked milk ducts along with high fever, breathing difficulties, fainting episodes, seek medical assistance as soon as possible.