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Mastitis (Breast Inflammation)

Mastitis is an inflammation of the breast that occurs most commonly in breast-feeding women; it can be related to tissue injury, infection, or both. Breast-feeding mastitis is typically caused by bacteria that enter the breast through a cracked or sore nipple.

Signs of infection may include:

  • Increased pain, swelling, redness, or warmth in an area on a breast.
  • Red streaks extending from a breast.
  • Drainage of pus coming from a breast.
  • Swollen lymph nodes in the neck or armpit.
  • Flu-like symptoms, such as fever of 101°F (38.5°C) or higher, chills, and fatigue.

Treatment usually involves antibiotic medicines, keeping up milk flow, and measures to relieve discomfort. While they are being treated, most women can safely continue to breast-feed or pump breast milk.

Last Revised: September 3, 2013

Author: Healthwise Staff

Medical Review: Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine & Kirtly Jones, MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology

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