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Mastitis (breast infection)

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Last updated June 11, 2022

Mastitis (breast infection) quiz

Take a quiz to find out what's causing your mastitis (breast infection).

Care Plan

1

First steps to consider

  • Mastitis can sometimes be treated at home.
  • If you think you have mastitis, you should first continue to breastfeed or pump, and to empty the breasts completely of milk on a regular basis.
  • Try medications that help with pain and swelling like Tylenol and Advil, and use cold compresses.
2

When you may need a provider

  • You still have pain and fever after 12–24 hours. You will likely need antibiotics.

Emergency Care

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Go to the ER if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Severe breast pain, swelling, or fever that is not getting better even when taking antibiotics for 2–3 days.
  • Feeling like your heart is racing
  • Changes in the way your breast looks. For example, the skin looks very thin or there is an open wound or pus.

Mastitis (breast infection) quiz

Take a quiz to find out what's causing your mastitis (breast infection).

Take mastitis (breast infection) quiz

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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The stories shared below are not written by Buoy employees. Buoy does not endorse any of the information in these stories. Whenever you have questions or concerns about a medical condition, you should always contact your doctor or a healthcare provider.
Dr. Rothschild has been a faculty member at Brigham and Women’s Hospital where he is an Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. He currently practices as a hospitalist at Newton Wellesley Hospital. In 1978, Dr. Rothschild received his MD at the Medical College of Wisconsin and trained in internal medicine followed by a fellowship in critical care medicine. He also received an MP...
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