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    A Guide to Breast Infection: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment Options

    Breast Lump

    A Guide to Breast Infection: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment Options

    Updated on 3 November 2023

    Breast infection is a painful and uncomfortable condition that many breastfeeding mothers face at least once in their lives. This article explores what causes this condition, its common symptoms, its treatment, and how to control it effectively.

    What is Mastitis?

    A breast infection, also known as mastitis, is a condition that can occur in breastfeeding women. A build-up of milk causes it in the breast, which can then become infected. Mastitis is a common breast infection that can occur in nursing mothers, but mothers who are not breastfeeding can also get it. Symptoms of mastitis include breast pain, redness, and swelling. The condition is usually caused by bacteria entering from the baby’s mouth to the mother’s breast through a crack in the nipple during breastfeeding. Mastitis can also occur if the milk ducts become blocked. Treatment of mastitis usually involves antibiotics and pain relief.

    Common Symptoms of a Breast Infection

    There are many different breast infection symptoms that women can experience. The most common symptom is usually pain in the breast, often described as a burning sensation. Some common mastitis symptoms include:

    • Rash on breast

    • Breast inflammation

    • Itching on breast

    • Nipple infection/nipple discharge

    • Tenderness in breast

    • Fever and chills

    • Swollen lymph nodes in the armpit

    You may like: Breast Diseases: Types, Symptoms & Diagnosis

    Causes of a Breast Infection

    There are a few different causes of a breast infection or mastitis. The most common mastitis causes are bacteria (Staphylococcus aureus) getting into the breast through a crack in the nipple. This can happen when the nipple is cracked or damaged, or when the baby doesn’t latch on correctly.

    Other causes of breast infection include a blocked milk duct or an injury to the breast. Sometimes, a foreign body, such as a piece of clothing, can cause an infection.

    If one thinks one might have an infection, it’s important to see a doctor or lactation consultant as soon as possible. They will be able to prescribe mastitis antibiotics and help you clear up the infection.

    Diagnosis of a Breast Infection

    In most cases, a breast infection can be easily diagnosed by a healthcare provider. They will likely ask about the symptoms and perform a physical exam. They may also order a mammogram, biopsy, or ultrasound to rule out other causes of the symptoms, such as breast cancer or abscess. A mammogram uses x-rays to examine the breast tissue, whereas a biopsy requires small breast tissue that is clinically tested for any cancerous cell growth.

    Treatment Options for Breast Infection

    If a patient is diagnosed with a breast infection, they will likely be treated with antibiotics. The antibiotic course can be anywhere from 7 to 14 days long. This will help to clear the infection and relieve the symptoms. Patients should finish their antibiotics course, even if they start to feel better.

    If someone has a breast infection, it is important to continue breastfeeding. This will help to clear the infection and prevent it from coming back. Another option could be to express breast milk to relieve the symptoms and prevent their baby from getting the infection.

    In case of an abscess due to a severe breast infection, the doctor may have to clinically incise and drain the abscess to help the patient’s breast heal faster. Breastfeeding mothers may use a breastfeeding pump in case of severe infections when breastfeeding is extremely painful and uncomfortable.

    Tips to Take Care of Breast Infection at Home

    If someone is suffering from a breast infection, there are certain things they can do at home to help ease the symptoms and speed up the healing process. Here are some tips to take care of breast infections at home:

    • Rest and take it easy. This is important so that the body can focus on healing.

    • Apply heat to the affected area. This can help reduce pain and inflammation.

    • Wear loose, comfortable clothing. This will help reduce friction and irritation on the skin.

    • Keep the affected area clean and dry. This will prevent further irritation and infection.

    • Drink plenty of fluids. This will help flush out the toxins from your body and keep you hydrated.

    • Eat healthy, nutrient-rich foods. This will help your body to heal and fight off infection.

    • Take over-the-counter pain medication if needed. This can help to ease any pain and discomfort you may be experiencing.

    • See your doctor if your symptoms persist or worsen. They can prescribe antibiotics if needed.

    By following these tips, new and experienced mothers can help speed up the healing process and treat any breast infection quickly.


    1. Boakes E, Woods A, Johnson N, Kadoglou N. (2018). Breast Infection: A Review of Diagnosis and Management Practices. NCBI
    2. Foxman B, D'Arcy H, Gillespie B, Bobo JK, Schwartz K. (2002). Lactation mastitis. NCBI
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    Written by

    Ishmeet Kaur

    Ishmeet is an experienced content writer with a demonstrated history of working in the internet industry. She is skilled in Editing, Public Speaking, Blogging, Creative Writing, and Social Media.

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