What is mastitis?

    Mastitis (mas-TY-tuss) is a swelling of the breast that is usually caused by an infection. This often happens during breastfeeding. Women with mastitis may have pain with a tender, red, wedge-shaped area on the breast. They may also have fever and chills, or they may feel tired and sick.

    If treatment is delayed or the infection is severe, a pocket of pus (abscess) can form. This requires minor surgery to drain the pus.


    What can I do to prevent it?

    Using the best breastfeeding method lowers your risk. Your baby should latch onto the nipple with his or her mouth open wide. Change your baby's position during feedings to help empty all the areas of the breast. If you need to stop a feeding, break the suction using your finger. Don't wear tight-fitting bras or breast pads that cause your nipples to stay moist after breastfeeding. Air your nipples when possible. Tell your doctor or lactation consultant if you have nipple pain during nursing.


    Home Care:

    1) It is important to keep the milk flowing from the infected breast. Continue breast feeding from both breasts as usual. This will not hurt the baby. If this is too painful, use a breast pump to remove milk from the infected side. This can be fed to your baby safely.

    2) Apply a warm compress  (a heating pad, hot water bottle or towel soaked in hot water) to the infected breast several times per day to help alleviate the pain by improving the flow of mils.

    3) After each feeding, express a small amount of breast milk and apply to the nipples. This lubricates the nipples and helps heal small cracks in the tissue.

    4) Soap dries the skin and removes protective oils. When bathing, clean the breast with water only, do not use soap.

    5) Take all of the antibiotics prescribed, if you stop earlier than recommended the symptoms may reappear and treatment may be more difficult.

    6) Wearing a supportive bra can help with the pain.

    7) Over-the-counter breast creams are not recommended for treatment or prevention of mastitis.


    Follow Up:

    Make an appointment with your doctor in the next week to be sure your infection is healing properly.


    Return Promptly or contact your doctor if any of the following occur:

      -- Fever over 100.5 for more than 3 days of antibiotic treatment

      -- Shaking chills

      -- Increasing breast pain or firmness in the breast

      -- Spreading area of redness


    Click the link for more information on Emergency Medicine Clinical Service


    Click the link for more information on Breast Health Program Clinical Service

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