Breast Infections: Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment

BCMG Breast InfectionsBreast infections, also known as mastitis, are most common among breastfeeding women. Breast infections are typically caused by common bacteria, known as Staphylococcus aureus. Breastfeeding often causes nipples to become dry and cracked, and the bacteria enters into the breast tissue through small cracks in the nipple.

Breast Infection Symptoms

Common symptoms of a breast infection include:

  • Breast swelling, tenderness, itchiness, redness or warmth
  • Breast lump
  • Nipple discharge
  • Fever

The common breast infection symptoms are also similar to the symptoms for a certain type of breast cancer, known as inflammatory breast cancer. While most women will have a simple breast infection, it is always important to mention breast changes to your physician, who can recommend additional imaging studies if needed.

Breast Infection Diagnosis

Most cases of breast infection can be diagnosed through a physical exam by your doctor. During your appointment, your doctor will also check to see if an abscess has formed, which can usually be drained right in the office, which can provide significant pain relief. For some patients, additional testing is necessary to rule out other possible conditions. A mammogram, biopsy, or an ultrasound may be prescribed to give a more definitive diagnosis.

Breast Infection Treatment

The vast majority of breast infections respond well to a 10-14 day course of antibiotics. Symptoms usually clear up with 2-3 days, however, it’s important to take all the medication prescribed to be sure the bacteria doesn’t return. If you have been diagnosed with a breast infection, you can try several at-home remedies, in addition to antibiotic, to relieve discomfort:

  • Warm compresses several times each day
  • Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications
  • Empty breasts more often than usual to prevent prolonged engorgement

Your Breast Health

Whenever you notice a change in the feel or appearance of your breast, it’s important to tell your doctor. And if you’re a woman over 40, continue to have a mammogram every year to check for changes that you can’t see or feel. When you need breast imaging, make the choice to come to The Maple Grove Breast Center. Our team offers patients and their families a comprehensive array of breast screening and diagnostic services to provide timely information and diagnosis.