Mastitis: A type of breast infection that every mother should know about


Breastfeeding is the most essential part of raising a kid. There are various glands in a woman’s breast surviving the alveolar region. The milk-producing glands extend from near the nipple to under the breast area. These ducts are called lactiferous ducts which are like spokes of a wheel surrounding the breast. These ducts fill with milk after the woman has given birth during the lactation period. The mammary glands producing the milk that is attached to the luciferous ducts can extend up to the armpits. Sometimes, the hormonal changes lead to the overproduction of milk, leading to hyper lactation syndrome. But, many times the baby does not feed consistently leading to Mastitis.

lactation mastitis

What is Mastitis?

Mastitis is an infection of the breast that occurs mostly during breastfeeding. Bacteria enters from the baby’s mouth and enters the milk duct through a crack in the nipple. This can further cause infection in the breast. Mastitis most commonly occurs in the first three months of delivery. There are many other causes of Mastitis. Let us know more in detail about the different types of Mastitis.

Types of Mastitis

There are two main types of Mastitis. 

Mastitis due to milk production

Mastitis due to milk production occurs due to two reasons one is due to bacterial infection. The Staphylococcus aureus bacteria usually enters the breast via a crack in the nipples from the baby’s mouth. This bacteria leads to infection. The other is due to milk stasis. Milk stasis happens when there is insufficient emptying of the breast when the baby does not drink milk regularly. The milk build-up within the breast tissue gives a favourable atmosphere for the bacteria to grow and causes infection. 

Chronic Mastitis

Chronic Mastitis occurs in women who are not breastfeeding. This includes women who are postmenopausal. The chronic inflammation of ducts below the nipples leads to mastitis in women. Hormonal changes in the body lead to changes that clog the milk ducts with dead skin cells. These clogged ducts make the breasts more susceptible to infection. The infection does not go away without antibiotic treatment. 

Mastitis symptoms

There are various severe symptoms. Here is a list of symptoms. 

  • Swelling or breast engorgement
  • Itching and redness around the breast tissue
  • Tenderness or a sensation of warmth in the breast
  • Fever
  • A small cut or wound at the nipple area
  • Tenderness under your arm
  • Abscess: Abscess is a complication of mastitis. The abscess lumps occur under the breast which are regular in size
  • Symptoms of more severe infection include a lump that does not become smaller after breastfeeding, puss coming out of nipple, and persistent fever with no improvement in a few days.

Mastitis diagnosis

Mastitis is diagnosed clinically by your doctor. He or she may ask a lot of questions like whether you are lactating or not. How many times does your baby take the feed? When did you notice the lump, whether the lump is getting smaller after breastfeeding or not? From these primary questions, the physician will decide what test he or she needs to run for the diagnosis. If the infection is severe then the doctor will ask you to provide a sample of your milk for culture, from which the type of bacteria to be targeted is isolated. 


The treatment varies from antibiotics to a minor surgical procedure. Antibiotics can eradicate the infection and breastfeeding can help resolve the issue fast. The doctor may also prescribe some ibuprofen as a pain reliever. Sometimes, the doctor may suggest a minor surgical procedure for suction and drainage of the clogged milk. The doctor will make a small incision to help drain the abscess. 

Prevention and care

There are certain different ways through which you can prevent mastitis. Here are those ways

So, friends, this is all that I wanted to know about Mastitis. If you know about something else please do let me know in the comments section. 

Himali Parikh
Himali is Parenting Blogger and founder of She had done M.S in Molecular biology from University of New Haven (US) and was working with various Pharma companies. She had started this motherhood and baby care blog for helping other mothers.

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