Mastitis is a condition which causes a woman's breast tissue to become painful and inflamed. It's most common in breastfeeding women, usually within the first three months after giving birth.
If mastitis is caused by breastfeeding, doctors may refer to it as lactation mastitis or puerperal mastitis. Non-breastfeeding women often have a type called periductal mastitis.
Mastitis usually only affects one breast, and symptoms often develop quickly. Symptoms of mastitis can include:
You may also experience flu -like symptoms, such as aches, a high temperature (fever), chills and tiredness.
Contact your GP as soon as possible if you think you might have mastitis.It may help to try some self-help measures before your appointment.
It's important to see your GP promptlyas mastitis could lead toa painful collection of pus (breast abscess) , which may need to be drained surgically.
In breastfeeding women, mastitis is often caused by a build-up of milk within the breast. This is known as milk stasis.
Milk stasis can occur for a number of reasons, including:
In some cases, this build-up of milk can also become infected with bacteria. This is known as infective mastitis.
In non-breastfeeding women, mastitis most often occurs when the breast becomes infected as a result of damage to the nipple, such as a cracked or sore nipple, or a nipple piercing.
Trynot to feel as if you're being tested or blamedit can take time and practise to breastfeed correctly.
Your GP may request a small sample of your breast milk for testing if:
This will help determine whether you have a bacterial infection and allow your GP to prescribe an effective antibiotic.
If you have mastitis and aren't breastfeeding, your GPshould refer you to hospital for a specialist examination and a breast scan to rule out other conditions, particularly if your symptoms haven't improved after a few days of treatment.
Scans you may have include an ultrasound scan or a mammogram ( X-ray of the breast).
Mastitis can usually be easily treated and most women make a full recovery very quickly.
Self-help measures are often helpful, such as:
Breastfeeding your baby when you have mastitis, even if you have an infection, won't harm your baby and can help improve your symptoms.
It may also help to feed more frequently than usual,express any remaining milk after a feed, andexpress milk between feeds.
Fornon-breastfeeding women with mastitis and breastfeeding women with a suspected infection, a course of antibiotic tablets will usually be prescribedtobring the infection under control.
Mastitis is a condition which causes a woman's breast tissue to become painful and inflamed. It's most common in breastfeeding women, usually within the first three months after giving birth. It's important to see your GP if you think you have it.
Read about the causes of mastitis, such as a build-up of milk within the breast (milk stasis) or a bacterial infection.
Read about treating mastitis, including self-help, tips on expressing breast milk, antibiotics, and, in some cases, surgery.