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This condition is very common especially in women who are indeed breastfeeding. Especially in the case of blocked ducts.

Blocked Ducts: This is more common in women who are breastfeeding. The condition will resolve itself usually without any type of special treatment within 24 to 48 hours. When a woman suffers from a blocked duct, it is usually also painful, swollen, with a very firm to hard mass or lump in the breast and the skin overlying the blocked duct is typically quite red, and looks very inflamed. However, a blocked duct is not usually considered to be an infection and so there is usually no need to treat with antibiotics.

However, if you are not breastfeeding and you are experiencing such conditions, other root causes are at play. More specifically, and typically when the conditions described present and are unrelated to breastfeeding they are typically caused by conditions such as mastitis.

Mastitis: This condition is very commonly caused from germs and bacterial infections. The bacteria enters the breast through a small split, crack or sore in the nipple. While the condition is common in mothers who are breastfeeding, it is also quite common in women who are not and it is still unclear exactly the mechanisms by which this happens and why some women get mastitis, while others do not. Mastitis can also be very painful and even more painful than blocked ducts. It is important to note as well that in many cases, blocked ducts will become mastitis, which complicate things even more. Also, if there is no lump in the breast, almost always the condition is not blocked duct or mastitis.

Dos and Don'ts

If you are experiencing, red, dry, cracked or painful nipples and as explained above, the symptoms are that of mastitis; breast lump, pain, red, and especially with a fever; do not hesitate to call your doctor immediately. Chances are it is a mastitic condition. At this time, it is important to not procrastinate, rather you should make an appointment to see your doctor immediately. While you wait to see your doctor, he or she, or your pharmacist can recommend anti-inflammatory, pain and fever medication such as ibuprofen, and possibly an over the counter Polysporinic cream until you can get to the doctor.

As well, keep the nipples clean and dry, to avoid further infection, and get as much rest as possible. Rest is very important to fight off the infection. Also, avoid any tight clothing that could further irritate your nipples and wait to see a doctor before taking any antibiotics.

Especially because some antibiotics, including Amoxicillin, and others used frequently for mastitis, do not destroy the actual bacterium that causes mastitis (Staphylococcus aureus). More effective, and ones which can, and do destroy the Staphylococcus aureus include, but are not limited to, cephalexin, cloxacillin, dicloxacillin, flucloxacillin, clindamycin, Ciprofloxacin, and even amoxicillin combined with clavulinic acid, among others.

Others including clotrimoxazole and tetracycline are often prescribed for community acquired methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (CA-MRSA). Your doctor is the best person to decide upon the best course of treatment for you from the range of antibiotics available. Especially if you have had symptoms that are consistent with mastitis in the last 24 hrs. and the symptoms are worsening. There is a wide range of specific antibiotics depending on your condition, so it is critical that you allow your doctor to make this important decision on your behalf.

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