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Mastitis (breast infection)

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Last updated November 18, 2021

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What is Mastitis?

Mastitis is an infection of the breast tissue that causes breast pain, swelling, warmth, and redness of the breast. Mastitis affects about 10% of women who are breastfeeding (lactation mastitis). It is usually caused by a blocked milk duct, which causes bacteria to multiply. The bacteria normally live on the skin or in the mouth of a nursing infant and are transferred to the breast during nursing.

Mastitis sometimes can occur in women who aren't breastfeeding.

Symptoms

Treatment

You should see a doctor to confirm your diagnosis and get treated, as mastitis can cause women to stop breastfeeding because of the pain. Also, bacterial infections will need to be treated with antibiotics.

Treatment includes changing breastfeeding techniques. Your doctor may recommend that you see a lactation consultant.

You can reduce your risk of mastitis with complete emptying of the breast when breastfeeding or pumping, and by improving your breastfeeding technique.

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