Overview

What is Mastitis?

Mastitis, or breast infection, commonly occurs in breastfeeding women and is caused by bacteria (Staphylococcus aureus) found on normal skin. Bacteria enter through a break or crack in the skin, usually on the nipple. The infection takes place in the fatty tissue of the breast and causes redness and swelling, which pushes on the milk ducts, resulting in pain and lumps in the infected breast.

Symptoms

What are the signs of Mastitis?

The signs and symptoms of mastitis include:

Breast enlargement

Breast enlargement

Breast lump

Breast lump

Breast pain

Breast pain

Fever and flu-like symptoms including nausea and vomiting

Fever and flu-like symptoms including nausea and vomiting

Itching of the nipple

Itching of the nipple

Nipple discharge (may contain pus)

Nipple discharge (may contain pus)

Nipple sensation changes

Nipple sensation changes

Swelling, tenderness, redness, and warmth in breast tissue

Swelling, tenderness, redness, and warmth in breast tissue

Tender or enlarged lymph nodes in armpit on the same side

Tender or enlarged lymph nodes in armpit on the same side

Causes

What are the causes of Mastitis?

Mastitis occurs when bacteria found on skin or saliva enter breast tissue through a milk duct or crack in the skin. Infection also happens when milk backs up due to a blocked milk duct or problematic breastfeeding technique. Other factors that increase the risk of developing mastitis include:

Cracked, sore nipples

Cracked, sore nipples

Improper latching technique or using only one position to breastfeed

Improper latching technique or using only one position to breastfeed

Wearing tight-fitting bras that restrict milk flow

Wearing tight-fitting bras that restrict milk flow

Diagnosis

How do I know if I have Mastitis?

Your GP may do a physical exam and check your symptoms to make a diagnosis. If you aren’t breastfeeding, you may get a mammogram or other tests to rule out breast cancer or a different breast condition.

Find a Practitioner

See a list of practitioners who specialise in treating mastitis