Breast Infections

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Swollen breast tissue since 3 weeks post-partum

Jan 2004

Hi -- I'm posting with the hope of finding someone who has had a similar experience and can offer some counsel.

I developed a huge breast infection about 3 weeks post-partum which created a mass about 3 inches wide in diameter from swollen breast tissue. It was like I had an orange in my breast. My OB sent me to a surgical breast oncologist to rule out a malignancy ... which was just ruled out via biopsy this past week.

I was on the antibiotic Keflex for about 5 weeks and now am going to have to go back on it again. The mass is still about 2.5 inches wide and there are smaller lumps that are red now as well.

I stopped trying to bf/pump at 4 weeks so it's not a breast feeding issue. But when I google ''breast infection'' I can only find info on basic infections -- not ones that result in large masses.

Anyone been down this path? Any resources to suggest? Thanks, Rachel

My husband, who is a surgeon, read your post over my shoulder and had this to say: (P.S.-congratulations on the new baby!) There are a couple of issues here. Was there any particular organism cultured from the breast? If so,were they or it susceptible to Keflex? Sometimes there are bacteria in breast abscesses of recently lactating women that are anaerobic or gram negative which don't respond well to cephalexin (keflex). Also, if a woman is diabetic or has had previous infections in the breast, there can be different bacteria that do not respond well to keflex. Keflex is really good for staph. and strep. Even if keflex was the right antibiotic, the levels in the blood stream may not have been adequate to penetrate through chronically inflamed fibrous tissue to reach the bacteria. If infection remains it may require IV antibiotics and or surgical incision and drainage, usually leaving the skin open to heal in. This sounds worse than it really is because the breast usually heals in very nicely after this is done, and you will be a lot more comfortable.
I had a breast infection with a mass in my left breast around the time my son was 6 weeks old. It was so painful. I have the book 'Herbal For the Childbearing Year' by Susun Weed and highly recommend it. I don't have health insurance so I rely on home remedies a lot. Take this with a grain of salt though, I'm not a physician or herbalist. Well, maybe an amateur herbalist. =) She recommended Marshmallow Root, Bee Propolis, and Echinacea, among other things. We were in a hurry so we went to GNC and found all of them there but they were pricey. You could definitely find marshmallow root and echinacea much cheaper elsewhere, not sure about the availability of bee propolis. The directions for using these are in the book, I don't remember exact amounts. I know that I took 3 echinacea capsules 3 times a day for 3 days. I also took the bee propolis as pills. The marshmallow root was in capsules and I opened them and poured the contents into the water. I believe she recommends soaking your breasts in it.. put a certain amount of the root in boiling water, let it cool til bearable, then soak breasts in it or make a poultice. I'd be happy to email you specifics if you like. This treatment cleared it up in less than 3 days. Also, you say that you are no longer breastfeeding. I would recommend drinking some sage tea, and also a little extra vitamin c and a, and some probiotics, since you've been on antibiotics. r
I also developed a very painful lump about 2 weeks postpartum -- it turned out that it was an abcess (a staph infection)! This was verified via ultrasound. However, if you're already seeing an oncologist, I'm sure they would have checked for this. (In my case, what started out as a case of mastitis quickly progressed to an abcess. The site was red and tender and throbbed, and I was running a fever). I was put on antibiotics, but then also went in for a procedure where a radiologist, using ultrasound to guide him, inserted a needle and drained the abcess. As soon as the fluid was out, the breast felt better imm! ediately. The sequence of events was that I first went to my OB/GYN, then was referred to an oncologist, then was scheduled for the ultrasound (done by a radiologist). This may not be relevant in your case at all, but perhaps it's worth asking your dr. if this might be a possibility. Best of luck. Lisa
Your situation rang a bell with me- I too developed a painfully swollen mass in my breast the size of an orange a few weeks postpartum. Mine was closer to my armpit. At first, I assumed it was a blocked milk duct and kept applying warm compresses, which just made it more painful. I contacted La Leche for advice and they suggested that I might have an extra milk gland (!) and to try icing it instead. It worked, and I didn't give it another thought, except to tease my husband that he was married to a three breasted wonder! triple titted mommy