Male Mastitis

by Sam Malone

Mastitis is a condition that causes an inflammation in the breast tissue. Most men will think that the condition only affects women but that is not true. Mastitis can affect men too because it involves breast tissue which is also present in men. However, its occurrence is relatively rare.

To understand male mastitis better, one needs to have an understanding of the development of male breasts. Prior to the advent of puberty with its accompanying hormonal changes, both male and female breasts look very similar. The breasts consist mainly of skin, fat and connective tissue and form a support for the nipples and areolas. During puberty, gender-specific hormones trigger off changes within the body that transform the child’s body into an adult’s. In the case of boys, the hormone testosterone triggers off testicular growth and prevents the development of breasts. In girls, the hormone estrogen triggers off the development of milk producing glands that causes breast size to increase.

In the case of adolescent males, breast enlargement may occur, a condition known as gynecomastia. These will appear as breast buds and usually subside after about a year or two. During this period, adolescent males may develop mastitis, a condition sometimes referred to as male breast mastitis or male gyno mastitis.

Mastitis is a benign condition that usually occurs in females who are breastfeeding. In such cases it is usually caused by blocked milk ducts that can get infected or by skin bacteria entering the nipples through cracks in the skin. In the case of adolescent boys and men, the route of infection remains the same. Benign skin bacteria that are found on the surface of the skin infect the breast tissue via cracks in the skin of the nipples. Another route for the bacterial infection is through skin that has been pierced. These bacteria proliferate in the breast tissue and cause an infection that result in an inflammation of the breast tissue. This is what causes the typical symptoms of mastitis.

The symptoms of male mastitis include:

  • Swollen breasts
  • Tender and painful breasts
  • Reddish skin that is warm to touch
  • Fever and chills
  • A lump around the region of the areolas
  • Fluid leakage from the nipples
  • Fatigue
  • Flu-like symptoms

The bacteria that causes mastitis is the Staphylococcus aureus that is found on the skin. Once the bacteria have spread into the breast tissue it causes an infection and will require treatment with antibiotics. Left untreated, the infection can develop into an abscess or a pus-filled region. This is the fluid that leaks out of the nipples.

The treatment for male mastitis involves the use of antibiotics to treat the infection. Antibiotics such as Amoxycillin, penicillin and older generation antibiotics are usually of no use against the Staphylococcus aureus bacterium. The antibiotics that are effective include cephalexin, cloxacillin, flucloxacillin, clindamycin and ciprofloxacin. Any of these antibiotics are usually enough to cure the infection.

Pain relievers such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)may also be prescribed to lessen the inflammation and the pain.

Treatment for mastitis that has caused an abscess will require surgery to drain the abscess. Intravenous antibiotics may be prescribed to treat the infection and pain relievers may be prescribed for pain relief.

Proper care of the affected region is an essential part of treatment. This includes:

  • Drink plenty of fluids to keep your body well hydrated.
  • Apply moisturizing cream to the nipples and breast to heal any cracks that may have developed. Lanolin based creams are the most effective at healing cracks in the skin and reducing pain.
  • Keep the area of the breast clean by gently washing it with an antiseptic soap.

Warning: The reader of this article should exercise all precautionary measures while following instructions on the home remedies from this article. Avoid using any of these products if you are allergic to it. The responsibility lies with the reader and not with the site or the writer.
More articles from the Men's-Issues Category