Mastitis is a topic covered in the 5-Minute Emergency Consult.

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  • Infection of the breast causing pain, swelling, and erythema
  • Most commonly in women who are breast-feeding
  • Often with systemic symptoms also:
    • Malaise
    • Fever
  • Incidence may be as high as 33% in lactating woman
  • Onset typically 2–3 wk to months postpartum
  • 75–95% occur before infant is 3 mo old
    • Rare during 1st postpartum week
  • More common in advanced maternal age and patients with diabetes
  • Complications:
    • Recurrence
    • Abscess
    • Sepsis
    • Necrotizing fasciitis
    • Fistula
    • Scarring
    • Breast hypoplasia

Pediatric Considerations
Can occur in full-term infants <2 mo of age


  • Staphylococcus aureus most common
  • Less common causes:
    • Coagulase-negative Staphylococcus
    • Streptococcus spp.
    • Escherichia coli
    • Haemophilus influenzae
    • Candida albicans
  • Risk factors:
    • Cleft lip or palate
    • Cracked nipples
    • Infant attachment issues
    • Local milk stasis
    • Nipple piercing
    • Poor maternal nutrition
    • Previous mastitis
    • Primiparity
    • Restriction from a tight bra
    • Sore nipples
    • Short frenulum in infant
    • Use of a manual breast pump
    • Yeast infection

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