Mastitis is the inflammation of breast tissue. Staphylococcus aureus is the most common etiological organism responsible, but Staphylococcus epidermidis and streptococci are occasionally isolated as well.
Popular usage of the term ''mastitis'' varies by geographic region. Outside the US it is commonly used for puerperal and nonpuerperal cases, in the US the term nonpuerperal mastitis is rarely used and alternative names such as duct ectasia, subareolar abscess and plasma cell mastitis are more frequently used.
Chronic cystic mastitis is a different (older) name for fibrocystic disease.
American usage: mastitis usually refers to puerperal (occurring to breastfeeding mothers) mastitis with symptoms of systemic infection. Lighter cases of puerperal mastitis are often called breast engorgement.
In this wikipedia article mastitis is used in the original sense of the definition as inflammation of the breast with additional qualifiers where appropriate.
It is called puerperal mastitis when it occurs in lactating mothers and non-puerperal otherwise. Mastitis can occur in men, albeit rarely. Inflammatory breast cancer has symptoms very similar to mastitis and must be ruled out.
The popular misconception that mastitis in humans is an infection is highly misleading and in many cases incorrect. Infections play only a minor role in the pathogenesis of both puerperal and nonpuerperal mastitis in humans and many cases of mastitis are completely aseptic under normal hygienic conditions. Infection as primary cause of mastitis is presumed to be more prevalent in veterinary mastitis and poor hygienic conditions.
The symptoms are similar for puerperal and nonpuerperal mastitis but predisposing factors and treatment can be very different.
Puerperal mastitis is the inflammation of breast in connection with pregnancy, breastfeeding or weaning. Since one of the most prominent symptoms is tension and engorgement of the breast, it is thought to be caused by blocked milk ducts or milk excess. It is relatively common; estimates range depending on methodology between 5-33%. However only about 0.4-0.5% of breastfeeding mothers develop an abscess.
The term nonpuerperal mastitis describes inflammatory lesions of the breast occurring unrelated to pregnancy and breastfeeding. This article includes description of mastitis as well as various kinds of mammary abscesses. Skin related conditions like dermatitis and foliculitis are a separate entity.
Names for non-puerperal mastitis are not used very consistently and include Mastitis, Subareolar Abscess, Duct Ectasia, Periductal Inflammation, Zuska's Disease and others.
Women who are breastfeeding are at risk for developing mastitis especially if they have sore or cracked nipples or have had mastitis before while breastfeeding another baby. Also, the chances of getting mastitis increases if women use only one position to breastfeed or wear a tight-fitting bra, which may restrict milk flow
Women with diabetes, chronic illness, AIDS, or an impaired immune system may be more susceptible to the development of mastitis.
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Last Updated: Nov 13, 2011