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.
What is Mastitis?
What are the signs of Mastitis?
The signs and symptoms of mastitis include:
Fever and flu-like symptoms including nausea and vomiting
Itching of the nipple
Nipple discharge (may contain pus)
Nipple sensation changes
Swelling, tenderness, redness, and warmth in breast tissue
Tender or enlarged lymph nodes in armpit on the same side
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
Improper latching technique or using only one position to breastfeed
Wearing tight-fitting bras that restrict milk flow
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.