Skip to Content



Mastitis is an infection of the breast tissue. It often happens to women when they breastfeed their babies. Most of the time only one breast is affected.



  • Antibiotics: This medicine may be used to kill the bacteria that caused mastitis.
  • Acetaminophen: This medicine decreases pain and fever. Acetaminophen is available without a doctor's order. Ask how much to take and how often to take it. Follow directions. Acetaminophen can cause liver damage if not taken correctly.
  • NSAIDs , such as ibuprofen, help decrease swelling, pain, and fever. This medicine is available with or without a doctor's order. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems in certain people. If you take blood thinner medicine, always ask your healthcare provider if NSAIDs are safe for you. Always read the medicine label and follow directions.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Call your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Manage your symptoms:

  • Rest as needed: Get more rest until your fever is gone and your breast is not sore. Do not sleep on your stomach until your infection is gone.
  • Continue to breastfeed: This will help your breast to drain and decrease the risk that the infection will spread to other areas of your breast. If it is painful when your baby nurses on that breast, breastfeed your baby from the other breast. Open both sides of your bra when breastfeeding and let milk flow from the infected breast onto a towel. This will help relieve pressure as you feed your baby on the opposite side. Pump the infected side to completely drain your breast. You may save the pumped milk to feed your baby.
  • Use different positions to breastfeed: Change the position of your baby during feedings. This may help to relieve your discomfort.
  • Use heat: Heat helps decrease pain from mastitis. Apply heat on the area for 20 to 30 minutes every 2 hours for as many days as directed. It may help to take a warm shower before you feed your baby or pump your breasts.
  • Use cold: A cold towel or ice may help decrease swelling and pain. Use an ice pack or put crushed ice in a plastic bag. Cover it with a towel, and place it on your breast for 15 to 20 minutes every hour as directed.
  • Massage your breast: Gently massage your breast before and during breastfeeding to help drain your milk.

Prevent mastitis:

  • Prevent breast engorgement: Although it is normal for your breasts to fill with milk, they may become too full. This may feel uncomfortable or even painful. Engorgement can be prevented by breastfeeding, expressing milk by hand, or using a breast pump. You can also feed your baby whenever he is hungry (feed on demand) to help prevent engorgement.
  • Empty your breasts completely while nursing: Begin nursing on the sore breast to keep it emptied. Nurse your baby on both breasts every 1 to 3 hours, both day and night.
  • Treat sore and cracked nipples: Ask a lactation specialist or your primary healthcare provider how to treat sore and cracked nipples. You may need to change your baby's position when he breastfeeds or teach him how to latch on properly. Do not let your baby chew on your nipples when he is breastfeeding.
  • Care for your breasts: Keep your nipples clean and dry between feedings. Check them for cracks, blisters, or other irritated areas. Wash your hands before and after you breastfeed your baby or pump your breasts. Wear a nursing bra that supports your breasts but is not too tight.

Contact your primary healthcare provider if:

  • You have a fever.
  • Your breast redness, pain, or swelling lasts more than 2 days.
  • You have painful swelling or a lump in your breast.
  • You have swollen and tender lymph nodes in your armpit on the same side as the infected breast.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

© 2015 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.