Chilton Medical Center - ATLANTIC HEALTH SYSTEM
Decrease (-) Restore Default Increase (+)  font size
PrintEmail
Search Health Information   

Normal female breast anatomy
Normal female breast anatomy


Breast infection
Breast infection


Female Breast
Female Breast


Breast infection

Definition:
Normal female breast anatomy

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



Alternative Names:

Mastitis; Infection - breast tissue; Breast abscess



Causes:

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 .



Symptoms:

Symptoms of a breast infection are:



Exams and Tests:

An exam is needed to make the diagnosis and rule out complications such as an swollen, pus-filled lump (abscess). Sometimes an ultrasound is needed to check for an abscess.

For infections that keep returning, milk from the nipple may be cultured. In women who are not breastfeeding, tests may include:

  • Breast biopsy
  • Breast MRI
  • Breast ultrasound
  • Mammogram  


Treatment:

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.

Antibiotic medicines are usually 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.



Outlook (Prognosis):

The condition usually clears quickly with antibiotic therapy.



Possible Complications:

In severe infections, an abscess may develop. Abscesses need to be drained, either as an office procedure or with surgery. Women with abscesses may be told to temporarily stop breastfeeding.



When to Contact a Medical Professional:

Call your health care 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


Prevention:

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


References:

Grobmyer SR, Massoll N, Copeland EM III. Clinical management of mastitis and breast abscess and idiopathic granulomatous mastitis. In: Bland KI, Copeland EM III, eds. The Breast: Comprehensive Management of Benign and Malignant Disorders. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2009:chap 6.

Newton ER. Breast-feeding. In: Gabbe SG, Niebyl JF, Simpson JL, eds. Obstetrics: Normal and Problem Pregnancies. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Churchill Livingston; 2007:chap 22.

Spencer JP. Management of mastitis in breastfeeding women. Am Fam Physician. 2008;78:727-31.




Review Date: 11/16/2014
Reviewed By: Cynthia D. White, MD, Fellow American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Group Health Cooperative, Bellevue, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
adam.com


Morristown Medical Center
100 Madison Avenue
Morristown, NJ 07960
973-971-5000

Overlook Medical Center
99 Beauvoir Avenue
Summit, NJ 07901
908-522-2000

Newton Medical Center
175 High Street
Newton, NJ 07860
973-383-2121

Chilton Medical Center
97 West Parkway
Pompton Plains, NJ 07444
973-831-5000

Hackettstown Medical Center
651 Willow Grove Street
Hackettstown, NJ 07840
908-852-5100

Goryeb Children's Hospital
100 Madison Avenue
Morristown, NJ 07960
973-971-5000

Atlantic Medical Group
1-800-247-9580

Morristown Medical Center

100 Madison Avenue
Morristown, NJ 07960
973-971-5000

Overlook Medical Center

99 Beauvoir Avenue
Summit, NJ 07901
908-522-2000

Newton Medical Center

175 High Street
Newton, NJ 07860
973-383-2121

Chilton Medical Center

97 West Parkway
Pompton Plains, NJ 07444
973-831-5000

Hackettstown Medical Center

651 Willow Grove Street
Hackettstown, NJ 07840
908-852-5100

Goryeb Children's Hospital

100 Madison Avenue
Morristown, NJ 07960
973-971-5000

Affiliated Providers

Atlantic Medical Group

More than 600 community-based health care providers.
1-800-247-9580

© 2016 Chilton Medical Center, 97 West Parkway, Pompton Plains, New Jersey 1-973-831-5000