It’s an acute inflammation, infection with a collection of pus within tissues, acute purulent disorder of breast mostly found in lactation period after delivery. Mostly affected by breast abscess; women in childbearing age group who have recently given birth. Normally caused by retention of milk due to mental depression affecting vital energy of liver or due to overtaking of fatty food that brings about stagnation of heat in stomach meridian or due to obstruction of milk duct after invasion of exogenous toxic fire into breast through rupture of nipple.
Breast abscess main manifestations include hardness, redness, inflammation, swelling, heat, tenderness and pain in infected part. Also, possibility of lymph glands enlargement in armpit and sharp pain when infant sucks. If left untreated, skin darkens, and abscess eventually bursts. The affected may be feverish, feels unwell, mostly occurring after delivery. At early stages when abscess has not yet been formed, there is a lump in breast accompanied by swelling, distention, pain, difficult lactation, chills, fever headache, nausea and dire thirst. Growing of lump with local bright redness and intermittent throbbing pain indicates suppuration. If infection is very severe, breast-feeding may have to be abandoned. Most abscesses form just under skin and are result of a bacterial infection that cause immune system to activate white blood cells and chemicals to fight bacteria.
The first stage in development of is inflammation, called mastitis with following symptoms: painful localized swelling of affected breast, localized redness, tenderness, and breast feels very hot. Another sign of infection is flu-like symptoms, including aches and pains, headache and raised temperature. The infection occurs in parenchymal (fatty) tissue of breast, causing swelling just outside milk ducts. These swelling presses on milk ducts, and result is pain and swelling of infected breast. One may notice additional symptoms: tender or enlarged lymph nodes in armpit on affected side, enlargement of affected breast, discharge from nipple, which may be green pus-like, breast lump, and itching. Try to continue breastfeeding if possible. Draining the infected milk can reduce chance of an abscess forming, and it will not harm baby. The germs in milk will be killed off once they reach baby’s stomach. If an abscess has already formed, it is advisable to stop breastfeeding.
The breast abscess because of bacterial infection; organisms enter through cracks in nipple, particularly at beginning of breast-feeding before skin has ‘toughened up’.
Preventative measures: try to avoid cracking of nipples include careful cleansing, use of some paste, and not allowing baby to suck for too long, or to ‘comfort suck’, especially during early days of breast-feeding.
Analysis: when breastfeeding, skin of nipples can become grazed or cracked. This is usually a result of baby’s gums pinching the nipple. Sometimes it happens because nipple hasn’t been far enough into baby’s mouth and has rubbed against roof of baby’s mouth. The baby not being properly positioned or latched on causes many sore nipples. Breast infections are caused by a common bacterium found on normal skin called Staphylococcus aurous. Although mastitis is most commonly caused by breastfeeding, also linked to other factors; include diabetes, nipple piercings, lumpectomies or breast irradiation, and use of corticosteroids, having silicone breast implants, and being a heavy smoker. As body’s immune system tries to fight off breast infection, some of tissue in local area dies, called necrosis. A collection of pus forms, which is surrounded by hardened and inflamed tissue syndrome of breast abscess.
Since stagnated liver vital qi and obstructed lactation lead to production of heat. The confrontation between exogenous pathogenic factors and body resistance causes chills, fever and headache. Pathogenic heat in stomach disturbs descending of stomach vital energy, manifested by nausea and dire thirst. Unrelieved stagnation of milk may produce heat. Extreme heat causes putrid muscle, and pus follows. So, there is growing of lump in breast with bright redness, burning and intermittent throbbing pain. The reducing method is applied to regulate vital energy of Liver and Stomach meridians, remove stagnation and disperse heat.
Prevention: if breastfeeding is too painful, better not to continue. To help milk flow better, try placing a warm, wet washcloth over affected breast for about 15 minutes before breastfeeding. Massaging affected breast in clockwise direction may also increase milk flow.
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