When the breasts become infected, breast inflammation often occurs. Many different causes can be to blame for this bothersome, often painful condition. Breast inflammation is typically a symptom of conditions such as mastitis, breast rash, or other infections.
Breast inflammation typically affects women ages 18 to 50. Younger and older women, as well as men, can also develop inflammation in the breasts, in some cases. Two main types of inflammation of the breasts exist: cases associated with breastfeeding and those which are not, also known as spontaneous cases.
During breastfeeding, mastitis can occur if the breasts become infected. Cracked skin around the nipple, breast tenderness, and flu-like symptoms may develop when this infection is present. This condition can often be prevented by keeping careful, proper hygiene, which can be difficult for new mothers. An antibiotic deemed infant-safe is typically prescribed to patients suffering from mastitis.
A cause of breast inflammation unrelated to breastfeeding, or spontaneous inflammation, can be attributed to a number of different causes. In young girls, the symptom is rare and often due to another infection in the body. Patients who smoke are more susceptible to breast infection of the nipple, which typically occurs from the late 20s to 30s in life. Women or men with large breasts can often develop a bacterial or fungal infection due to excessive sweating, particularly during the summertime.
Most of these cases of inflammation can be remedied with a simple antibiotic prescribed by a physician. In the case of a topical infection, an antifungal or antibacterial cream may be given. In grave cases of serious infection, a surgical operation may be required to remove diseased ducts to prevent further infection.
As the tissue becomes inflamed, breast swelling often develops. Pain in the area can occur, although that is not always the case. Itching is often a symptom of inflammation, particularly if the cause is a breast rash. Redness is often present during inflammation as well.
Inflammation of the breasts is often a precursor of breast cancer. An inflammation process is thought to provoke the development of tumors. If one develops inflammation in the breast tissue without provocation from a cause, such as nursing a baby, a visit to the doctor is recommended.
If caught early, the inflammation can be reduced or stopped, ceasing the breast cancer development. Due to these findings, breast inflammation may be key in finding a cure for breast cancer. It may also lead scientists to a possible preventative treatment.