February 7, 2011

Causes, Symptoms & Treatment For Mammary Duct Ectasia

Posted in Category : Women's Health

Mammary duct ectasia can be described as a condition that affects nursing moms. This problem occurs when the milk duct below the nipple gets dilated, the walls of the duct thicken and fluid gets filled up within the ducts. This then causes your milk duct to get blocked with a thick and sticky substance. At times, the ducts could also get infected or inflamed.

This condition is not very serious and usually gets better on its own, without any medication. However, in some instances, the symptoms persist even after using natural remedies and self-care measures. In such instances, doctors may prescribe antibiotics to treat the condition. If the infection is severe, your doctor may advise you to undergo a surgery for the removal of affected milk duct.


Any woman can suffer from mammary duct ectasia, though the chances of developing this condition increase with advancing age. The exact causes of this affliction are still not clear, but health experts believe that it could occur due to –

  • Changes in the composition of the breast tissue as a natural part of ageing
  • Hormonal changes
  • Infections in the breast area
  • Nipple inversion
  • Unhealthy practices like smoking cigarettes


Most women do not experience any adverse signs or symptoms in spite of developing mammary duct ectasia. Given below are some of the symptoms that you may experience as a result of this condition –

  • Discharge (white, greenish or black) from one or both nipples
  • Tenderness, redness or soreness in the nipple as well as the surround breast tissues
  • Appearance of a lump or thickening close to the blocked duct
  • Inverted nipple

These symptoms are also often present in case of breast cancer. Therefore, it is essential to visit a doctor as soon as you notice any changes in your breast. Your healthcare provider will conduct a physical exam to determine the exact cause of the problem; you may also need to undergo additional tests such as an ultrasound of the nipple or a mammography.


The first step in the treatment of mammary duct ectasia is the use of simple self-care measures such as –

  • Quitting unhealthy practices like smoking cigarettes
  • Using breast pads and supportive bras at all times
  • Applying warm compresses to the affected nipple for half an hour, 3 times a day
  • Cleaning the area every 2 or 3 hours, with water and a mild soap

In case the condition is severe or persists after trying these steps, your doctor may prescribe medication for relieving the symptoms and inflammation. Some of the medicines used in the treatment of mammary duct ectasia include –

  • Acetaminophen
  • Antibiotics
  • Aspirin
  • Ibuprofen
  • Naproxen
  • Ketoprofen

However, there are a few side effects associated with these medicines, which is why it is important to consult a doctor before taking any of them.

In case the medication therapy does not yield the desired results either, your doctor may need to remove the affected milk duct surgically.