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Breast Infection

by Julie S. Moldenhauer, MD

A breast infection (mastitis—see Breast Infection and Abscess) can occur after delivery, usually during the first 6 weeks and almost always in women who are breastfeeding. If the baby is not positioned correctly during breastfeeding, cracking (and soreness) can develop. If the skin of or around the nipples becomes cracked, bacteria from the skin can enter the milk ducts and cause an infection.

An infected breast usually appears red and swollen and feels warm and tender. Only part of the breast may be red and sore. Women may have a fever.

Rarely, breast infections result in a pocket of pus (abscess). The area around the abscess swells, and pus may drain from the nipple.

Doctors base the diagnosis on results of a physical examination.

Did You Know...

  • If a breast infection develops after delivery, women should usually continue to breastfeed.

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Drugs Mentioned In This Article

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  • ERY-TAB, ERYTHROCIN