Increased pain, swelling, redness, or warmth
around a breast.
Red streaks extending from a
Drainage of pus from a breast.
Mastitis is an inflammation of the breast that occurs
most commonly in breast-feeding women. It may be caused by
breast engorgement, a blocked milk duct, or cracked
skin on the woman's nipples that allows bacteria to enter the breast. In women
who are not breast-feeding, it is related to changes that can occur with aging,
such as expanded (dilated) or irregular milk ducts.
Mastitis will not go away without treatment. Most women can safely
continue to breast-feed or pump breast milk while being treated. Treatment
usually involves a combination of antibiotics and home treatment to increase
the flow of milk through the breast and relieve discomfort while the infection
clears up. In some cases, a breast
abscess may form, which is a pocket of infection. An
abscess may need to be drained by a doctor, and the woman may need to stop
breast-feeding for a few days while the infection is treated.
A breast infection can occur in a woman who is not nursing after an
injury, such as a cut or bite to the breast, and sometimes without an injury.
The term mastitis is sometimes used to refer to any noncancerous, inflammatory
condition of the breast.
Breast infections never lead to
breast cancer, but some breast cancers look like
Primary Medical Reviewer
William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer
H. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine
September 9, 2011
WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise
September 09, 2011
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