Learn About Breast Infection

What is the definition of Breast Infection?

A breast infection is an infection in the tissue of the breast.

Normal female breast anatomy
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What are the alternative names for Breast Infection?

Mastitis; Infection - breast tissue; Breast abscess - post partum mastitis; Breastfeeding - mastitis

What are the causes of Breast Infection?

Breast infections are usually caused by common bacteria (Staphylococcus aureus) found on normal skin. The 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 swelling. This swelling pushes on the milk ducts. The result is pain and lumps in the infected breast.

Breast infections usually occur in women who are breastfeeding. Breast infections that are not related to breastfeeding might be a rare form of breast cancer.

What are the symptoms of Breast Infection?

Symptoms of a breast infection may include:

  • Breast enlargement on one side only
  • Breast lump
  • Breast pain
  • Fever and flu-like symptoms, including nausea and vomiting
  • Itching
  • Nipple discharge (may contain pus)
  • Swelling, tenderness, and warmth in breast tissue
  • Skin redness, most often in wedge shape
  • Tender or enlarged lymph nodes in armpit on the same side
Breast infection
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What are the current treatments for Breast Infection?

Self-care may include applying moist heat to the infected breast tissue for 15 to 20 minutes four times a day. You may also need to take pain relievers.

Antibiotics are very effective in treating a breast infection. If you take antibiotics, you must continue to breastfeed or pump to relieve breast swelling from milk production.

In case if the abscess does not go away, needle aspiration under ultrasound guidance is done, along with antibiotics. If this method fails to respond, then incision and drainage is the treatment of choice.

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What is the outlook (prognosis) for Breast Infection?

The condition usually clears quickly with antibiotic therapy.

What are the possible complications of Breast Infection?

In severe infections, an abscess may develop. Abscesses need to be drained, either as an office procedure or with surgery. A wound dressing would be needed to help with healing after the procedure.Women with abscesses may be told to temporarily stop breastfeeding.

When should I contact a medical professional for Breast Infection?

Call your provider if:

  • Any portion of your breast tissue becomes reddened, tender, swollen, or hot
  • You are breastfeeding and develop a high fever
  • The lymph nodes in your armpit become tender or swollen
How do I prevent Breast Infection?

The following may help reduce the risk of breast infections:

  • Careful nipple care to prevent irritation and cracking
  • Feeding often and pumping milk to prevent the breast from getting swollen (engorged)
  • Proper breastfeeding technique with good latching by the baby
  • Weaning slowly, over several weeks, rather than quickly stopping breastfeeding
What are the latest Breast Infection Clinical Trials?
Identification of Predictive Biomarkers of Mastitis in Lactating Mothers Using a Metabolomic Approach

Summary: Breastfeeding is the optimal feeding for infants. WHO currently promotes breastfeeding and recommends it to be exclusive until the baby is 6 months old. Breastfeeding has a positive impact on both the mother's and the infant's health and is directly associated with the decrease in diseases such as cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and inflammatory and infectious diseases. Currently, in Spa...

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The Guidance on the Gravitationally Assisted Lactation Influences the Occurrence of Lactational Mastitis: a Clinical Cohort Study

Summary: Lactation is the instinct of almost all mammals, including human beings. With the development of human society, the function of lactation has gradually deviated from nature instinct. Breastfeeding related industries, such as milk bottles, formula and breast pumps, have formed a vast consumer market, leading to a transition from breastfeeding mothers' individual instinct to the social division of l...

What are the Latest Advances for Breast Infection?
The preventive and therapeutic effects of probiotics on mastitis: A systematic review and meta-analysis.
Management of Granulomatous Lobular Mastitis and Risk Factors Associated with Recurrence.
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Comparison of the Efficacy of Systemic Versus Local Steroid Treatment in Idiopathic Granulomatous Mastitis: A Cohort Study.
Who are the sources who wrote this article ?

Published Date: October 16, 2020
Published By: Todd Campbell, MD, FACS, Clinical Assistant Professor Department of Surgery, Volunteer Faculty, Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine, Stratford, NJ; Medical Director, Independence Blue Cross, Philadelphia, PA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

What are the references for this article ?

Dabbs DJ, Weidner N. Infections of the breast. In: Dabbs DJ, ed. Breast Pathology. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2017:chap 3.

Dabbs DJ, Rakha EA. Metaplastic breast carcinoma. In: Dabbs DJ, ed. Breast Pathology. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2017:chap 25.

Dinulos JGH. Bacterial infections. In: Dinulos JGH, ed. Habif's Clinical Dermatology. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2021:chap 9.

Klimberg VS, Hunt KK. Diseases of the breast. In: Townsend CM Jr, Beauchamp RD, Evers BM, Mattox KL, eds. Sabiston Textbook of Surgery. 21st ed. St Louis, MO: Elsevier; 2022:chap 35.