Breast Infection in the Breast Tissue

Mastitis is a breast infection in the breast tissue. Breast infections are mostly caused by bacteria found on normal skin. The bacteria usually enter through cracked nipples. The infection is in the fatty tissue of the breast, which causes a swollen breast and pain in the breast tissue.

Things that could Cause a Breast Infection

  • Sore or cracked nipples, although it may develop without an open wound.
  • Pressure on the milk ducts, caused by a tight bra.
  • Not draining your beasts sufficiently, which causes blocked milk ducts.

Symptoms of Breast Infection

Mastitis Symptoms:

  • One side of the breast can become larger than the other.
  • Breast lumps may occur.
  • Sore breast (tender breast).
  • You could experience fever and flu-like symptoms (nausea & vomiting) and body aches.
  • Your breasts might feel itchy.
  • A nipple discharge (pus like substance) and nipple pain.
  • Your breasts may feel hot and you may feel some breast tenderness.
  • You may find that you have enlarged lymph nodes under your arms.
  • Your milk supply may decrease temporarily.
  • You might notice that your milk seems thicker, or has a fatty look to it.
mastitis breast infection treatment

Mastitis Treatment

Milk from the nipple will be cultured. If you are not breastfeeding and suspect that you have a breast abscess, tests may include a mammogram or breast biopsy.


  • Continue to breastfeed. Breastfeeding will help to clear the infection and relieve some breast soreness.
  • Apply warm compresses to the breast, or take a warm shower before breastfeeding or expressing.
  • Wholesome foods will help to strengthen your immune system.
  • Massage gently, but firmly from the plugged region toward the nipple.
  • Try nursing while leaning over baby ("dangle feeding") so that gravity will help in loosening the blocked section.
  • Use cold compresses between feedings, to decrease breast pain and breast inflammation.
  • Vary your baby's position at the breast, so that all the blocked ducts are emptied.

Natural Medicine that will Help Heal Mastitis

  • Garlic: Take three cloves of garlic, with four ounces of carrot juice; mixed in a blender every two hours.
  • Comfrey leaves and Calendula flowers: Boil them and put them on the breast while warm, at least four times daily. The Comfrey and Calendula will ease the sore nipples, draw out the infection, as well as clear the ducts.
  • Raw Cabbage leaves: If placed directly on the infected area of the breast; it will help draw out the heat and infection. The Cabbage will also decrease the swelling of the engorged breast.
  • Cold, grated raw Potato: Can be used as a poultice. Apply directly onto your sore breasts.
  • Vitamin C: Can be used to improve the body's resistance.
  • Calendula herb: Heals skin at a rapid rate.
  • Other herbs that are safe to use that may help.

Chronic Mastitis

Severe Infections

If an abscess develops, it will need to be drained. Women with abscesses may be told to temporarily stop breastfeeding. IV antibiotics, are often necessary.

Signs suggesting you need antibiotic treatment:

  • A history of recurring mastitis.
  • A fever that is rising.
  • You are feeling worse as time goes by.
  • If your breasts become red, hot or swollen.
  • If your lymph nodes, under your armpit become sore or swollen.
  • A Persistent fever, dizziness or confusion.
  • You feel a lump in your breast.
  • Your breast pains during a breastfeeding session.

Mastitis Control


  • Take care of your nipples whilst breastfeeding. Clean them after every breastfeeding session.
  • Make sure that most of the milk is removed from your breasts, by breastfeeding and pumping if necessary. This will prevent plugged ducts.
  • Make sure that your baby is latching on properly.
  • Wean gradually, over a period of weeks, so that your breasts can adapt to the amount of breast milk that they need to produce.
  • Try to breastfeed equally from both breasts.
  • Avoid dehydration, by drinking lots of fluids.
  • Make sure that your baby’s mouth is clean before every breastfeeding session.
  • Avoid sleeping on your tummy, so that your breasts are not squashed against the mattress.

When the milk is not totally drained from your breast during breastfeeding, milk stasis could occur. Milk stasis causes even more pressure on the ducts, which can cause pain and breast engorgement.

If the infection does not clear up after taking antibiotics, go back to your doctor. A rare type of breast cancer called inflammatory breast cancer, may also cause the same symptoms as mastitis. (redness and swelling)

Other pages on "breastfeeding problems" related to this page

Cold Therapy: relieves engorgement, swelling and pain.

Hot Therapy: relieves mastitis, plugged ducts

Breast Pump Aid: use hot to reduce time spent pumping

Doctor designed, Lactation Consultant recommended...

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