Also known as: Breast infection, lactation mastitis

What is mastitis?

Mastitis is an inflammation of the breast, which may, or may not be related to an infection. It most commonly occurs in breastfeeding mothers one to three months after the delivery of the baby (during the first 6 months of breastfeeding or anytime).

(Mastitis in infants under 2 months of age is a separate discussion).

What causes mastitis?

Most healthy women don't get mastitis, however women with poor nutrition, being overly tired or stressed, or suffering from chronic illnesses, diabetes, and immune system abnormalities place them at greater risk.

Engorgement and incomplete emptying of the breast, a blocked milk duct, sore or cracked nipples all may allow bacteria from the mother’s skin or baby’s mouth to enter the breast.

What are the signs/symptoms of mastitis?

Signs and symptoms include (usually in one breast) redness of the skin, tenderness (and/or pain, or burning sensation during breastfeeding) and warmth to the touch, breast swelling, feeling ill, flu-like symptoms (aches and chills) and a fever usually greater than 101 F (38.3 C).

What are mastitis care options?

Treatments may include antibiotics, pain relievers, changes to breastfeeding technique and self-care (adequate rest, and extra fluids, warm compresses, and wearing a supportive bra).

Reviewed by: Jack Wolfsdorf, MD, FAAP

This page was last updated on: February 02, 2021 02:42 PM

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