Breast Infection: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, Home Remedies, Diagnosis

Breast infection, also known as mastitis is one of the most common infections among women who are breastfeeding. However there are few other breast infections which may be because of a rare kind of breast cancer. The infection usually affects the fatty tissue in the breast that may cause swelling, lumps and pain in the breast. Breast infection is also known as mastitis. Here the nipples become cracked, and sore. In this article we will talk more about the breast infection, the symptoms, causes, diagnosis, treatment along with home remedies and preventive measures.

Breast Infection

Symptoms of Breast Infection:

Here are some of the most common symptoms of breast infection:

  • Breast pain is the most common symptom of breast infection
  • There is breast enlargement on one side only
  • Breast lumps can be seen
  • Fever and flu like symptoms along with nausea and vomiting may be accompanied along with breast infection.
  • Nipple discharge is one symptom of breast infection. This may contain pus.
  • There may be symptoms of itching
  • Swelling, tenderness, redness, etc in the breast tissue.
  • There may be tender or enlarged lymph nodes in armpit on the same side.
  • There may be changes in nipple sensation.

Causes of Breast Infection:

There are some noted causes for breast infection, we already mentioned earlier. Let us have a better look on them here.

Breast infections are most common in breastfeeding women. However in rare cases there are also breast infections in women who are not breastfeeding. This may be due to a rare form of breast cancer.

Breast infections are primarily caused by the common bacteria known as Staphylococcus aureus which is found on normal skin. These bacteria enter via a break or a crack in the skin of the nipple in most cases.

The breast infection occurs in the fatty tissue of the breast and leads to swelling. This swelling pushes on the milk ducts and results in pain and lumps in the affected breast.

When to Seek a Medical Help in Breast Infection?

You need to know the symptoms when it is a must for you to contact a medical professional for your breast infection. Below are some of them to note.

  • If any portion of your breast tissue turns red, tender, swollen or becomes hot
  • If the lymph nodes in your armpit become tender or swollen
  • If you are developing a high fever while you are in breast feeding state.

Diagnosis of Breast Infection:

It is essential to go for a proper diagnosis for effective treatment of the breast infection. Below are some of the diagnosis tests and exams for breast infection.

  • The diagnosis for breast infection begins with physical examination made by the doctor.
  • There may be requirements of some diagnosis procedures which include an ultrasound which may help in distinguishing between simple breast infection or breast abscess in deep tissues.
  • Breast MRI may be done in case required.
  • There may be requirements for breast biopsy so as to confirm the possibilities of breast cancer in the non breastfeeding women who meet with breast infection.

Treatments for Breast infection:

Let us take a look on some of the most effective treatment procedures for breast infection in this section.

  1. Medications or Antibiotic Therapy for Breast Infection: For the simple breast infections which occur without abscess; oral antibiotics are pretty effective. Cephalexin, Dicloxacillin are the two most common antibiotics prescribed for such breast infection; though there are a number of other antibiotics that may be taken with prescription. Your antibiotics are to be prescribed by the doctor depending on your situation. The two antibiotics mentioned above, are not harmful for the breastfeeding women as they will not harm the baby. Some chronic breast infections affecting the non-breastfeeding women can at times be complicated and such types of breast infections may not be treated with the antibiotics and may require close follow-up with your doctor; who may prescribe you the more effective treatments for the conditions. There may be surgical requirements to treat breast infections in non-breastfeeding women who are diagnosed with rare breast cancer.
  2. Treatments of Breast Infection via Aspiration or Minor Incision: Here, at first an injection of a local anesthetic is given to the patient so as to drain an abscess near the skin surface either by aspiration or by using a small incision.
  3. Surgical Treatments for Breast Infections: Surgery is essential to treat some breast infections; especially those where there is presence of abscess. In case the abscess is very deep in the breast then it may require surgical drainage in the operation theatre. This procedure of surgical treatment is done under general anesthesia so as to minimize the pain and completely drain away the abscess.

Usually the condition in breast infection clears quickly with antibiotic therapy. In case of the severe infection, surgery does help followed by post surgical care and other self-care methods or home remedies.

Follow-Up Steps after Taking Treatments for Breast Infection:

Below are some steps you need to follow after surgical treatments for breast infection.

  • It is essential for a recheck in 2-4 days if you have a breast infection
  • It is essential for you to take all the prescribed antibiotics
  • After the treatment begins; it is essential for you to take your temperature readings 3 times a day for first 2 days. Watch for fever.
  • Follow up with your doctor in 1-2 weeks so as to make sure that the breast infection has completely gone away.

Home Remedies for Breast Infection:

If you are someone looking for home remedies for breast infection then this is the section that would help you find out some of the best home remedies.

  • Go for frequent feedings if you are a breastfeeding woman and diagnosed/treated with breast infections. Do not stop breastfeeding from the affected breast, even if it is painful. However, stop breastfeeding if infection is due to an abscess.
  • A warm compress should be applied before and after breastfeedings in case you have breast infection. This can provide some relief.
  • You can also go for a warm bath.
  • Ice packs can be applied to provide comfort and relief.
  • Drink plenty of water and eat well balanced meals. Add 500 extra calories in a day to your diet.

Prevention against Breast Infection:

Here below are some ways you can prevent breast infection.

  • Take care of nipples properly so as to prevent irritation and cracking.
  • Avoid dehydration by drinking plenty of water.
  • Go for proper breastfeeding technique with good latching by the baby if you are breastfeeding woman.
  • Prevention of breast infection can be possible by weaning slowly over several weeks, rather than quickly stopping breastfeeding
  • Feeding often and pumping milk so as to prevent breast from getting swollen is essential in breastfeeding women.


Now that we are known to the causes, treatments, home remedies and preventive measures for breast infection; it is essential to take care of the same and prevent self from any complex issues in breast infection. Kindly talk to an expert in case of any serious symptom noticed and get properly diagnosed about the condition to have the best possible treatment for self.

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:April 6, 2018

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