Harnessing the Healing Power of Infrared Saunas for Mastitis Treatment

Jan 10, 2024 | Breastfeeding

Young mother experiencing mastitis in her breasts

Mastitis is a painful and often debilitating condition that can affect many breastfeeding parents. Mastitis typically occurs when milk ducts become blocked, leading to the growth of bacteria in the breast tissue. This bacterial invasion triggers an inflammatory response, causing pain and discomfort. Common risk factors for mastitis include cracked nipples, incomplete emptying of the breast during nursing, and compromised immune function. Many people experience inflammation of the breast tissue as an initial sign, mastitis can lead to symptoms such as redness, swelling, warmth, and pain. While conventional treatments, such as antibiotics and warm compresses, are commonly employed, there is a growing interest in alternative therapies, including the use of infrared saunas, working with an IBCLC, and gentle breast care. 

Conventional treatments for mastitis often involve a combination of antibiotics, cold compresses, and pain relievers. While antibiotics effectively target bacterial infections, they may come with side effects, and some mothers may be concerned about their impact on breastfeeding infants gut health and microbiome. Cold compresses help to alleviate pain and promote milk flow, but their efficacy may be limited.

In recent years, the use of infrared saunas as an adjunct therapy for various health conditions, including mastitis, has gained attention. Infrared saunas differ from traditional saunas by using infrared light to heat the body directly, promoting deep tissue penetration.

This can lead to a range of potential benefits for mastitis treatment:

  1. Improved Circulation: Infrared sauna therapy has been shown to enhance blood circulation, which can aid in reducing inflammation and promoting healing. Improved blood flow to the affected breast may help deliver nutrients and immune cells, contributing to a faster recovery.
  2. Detoxification: Sweating induced by infrared saunas is believed to facilitate the elimination of toxins from the body. This detoxification process may support the body’s natural immune response, potentially assisting in the resolution of mastitis.
  3. Pain Relief: Infrared sauna therapy has demonstrated analgesic effects, providing relief from pain associated with various conditions. For mastitis sufferers, this can be particularly beneficial in managing discomfort and promoting a more comfortable breastfeeding experience.

A study published in the “Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine” in 2015 found that infrared saunas could improve symptoms in patients with chronic pain conditions, showcasing the potential for pain relief. Experts in integrative medicine and natural health also support the use of infrared sauna therapy for conditions involving inflammation and pain. Dr. Mark Hyman, a renowned functional medicine practitioner, has highlighted the role of infrared saunas in promoting overall health and well-being.

Infrared sauna therapy holds promise as a complementary treatment for mastitis, offering potential benefits such as improved circulation, detoxification, and pain relief. As with any complementary therapy, it is crucial for breastfeeding mothers to consult with their healthcare providers before incorporating infrared sauna sessions into their mastitis treatment plan. We highly encourage you to schedule an appointment to have a thorough evaluation for mastitis with one of our IBCLCs and to couple it with an Infrared Sauna session in our North Bethesda office to help reduce symptoms.

Sarah Early - MSN, APRN-FNP-C, IBCLC

Sarah Early, MSN, APRN, FNP-C, IBCLC, is a clinically trained Integrative and Functional Health Family Nurse Practitioner who specializes in women's health and is the owner of Peony Women's Integrative Health and Lactation Room. She graduated with a Master's in Nursing and Family Nurse Practitioner with high distinction and is a member of the Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing. Sarah has been a practicing International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) since 2011 and opened Lactation Room in 2014. Lactation Room specializes in supporting parent/baby dyads who are struggling with infant oral dysfunction, feeding difficulties, and tongue-and-lip ties. They earned the prestigious IBCLE Care Award from the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners® (IBLCE®) and International Lactation Consultant Association® (ILCA®) have recognized Lactation Room for excellence in lactation care. She is a member of ILCA, USLCA, MBC, AANP, IATP, and MBC.