Mastitis

(Breast Infection)

Definition

Mastitis is painful swelling and redness in the breast. It is especially common among women who are breastfeeding. While it is most common in just one breast it can occur in both.
Mastitis
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Causes

Mastitis is often caused by trapped breast milk in a milk duct. The trapped breast milk can irritate the tissue around it and cause swelling and pain.Mastitis can also be caused by a bacterial infection in the breast tissue. Milk ducts or cracked skin around the nipple can allow bacteria to enter the breast and cause an infection.Mastitis often occurs during breastfeeding but, it is possible to get mastitis at other times. This fact sheet will focus on symptoms and treatment of lactation-associated mastitis.

Risk Factors

Factors that may increase your chance of mastitis include:
  • Previous mastitis
  • Abrasion or cracking of the breast nipple
  • Yeast infection of the breast
  • Pressure on the breasts, caused by:
    • Wearing a bra or clothing that is too tight
    • Sleeping on the stomach
    • Holding the breast too tightly during feeding
    • Baby sleeping on the breast
    • Exercising, especially running, without a support bra
  • Anything that causes too much milk to remain in the breast, including:
    • Irregular breastfeeding
    • Missed breastfeeding, which may cause overdistention of the breast
    • Baby's teething
    • Use of supplemental bottle feeds
    • Incorrect positioning of the baby during feedings
    • Abrupt weaning

Symptoms

Mastitis may cause:
  • Redness, tenderness, or swelling of the breast
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Aches, chills, or other flu-like symptoms
  • A burning feeling in the breast
  • A hard feeling or tender lump in the breast
  • Pus draining from the nipple

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