What is mastitis?

Mastitis is an infection or inflammation of the breast. Breast infections commonly occur in women who are breast-feeding when bacteria enters a crack in the nipple. A case of mastitis can leave you rundown and make it hard for you to care for your baby.

What are the symptoms of mastitis?

Mastitis can appear suddenly. Symptoms include:

  • breast tenderness
  • skin redness, often in a wedge shape
  • swelling of the breast
  • general malaise
  • fever of 101 F or greater

What causes mastitis?

Mastitis can occur when bacteria from your skin or your baby's mouth enters a crack in your nipple and multiplies.

How is mastitis diagnosed?

Your physician can confirm that the pain and swelling in your breast is a bacterial infection and will also check that the infection has not turned into an abscess, a complication of mastitis.

What are the treatment options for mastitis?

An antibiotic is prescribed for 10 to 14 days. Be sure the entire course of treatment is finished to avoid recurrence. Mastitis causes some women to wean their baby early. It's important to remember that you should continue to breastfeed. In fact, the affected breast should be kept empty of milk through frequent breastfeeding. Call your physician if flu-like symptoms develop or a fever over 100.4 F.

Care for mastitis

At Boston Children's Hospital, there are a few programs that provide support for mastitis. You or your daughter may be referred to the Gynecology program, the Lactation program and the Adolescent/Young Adult Medical Practice.