Mastitis is when your breasts become swollen, hot and painful.

It is commonly seen in women who are breastfeeding. However, both men and women who are not breastfeeding can also get it. 


Mastitis usually only affects 1 breast, and symptoms often come on quickly. They include:

  • a swollen area on your breast that may feel hot and painful to touch – the area may become red, but this can be harder to see if you have darker skin
  • a wedge-shaped breast lump or a hard area on your breast
  • a burning pain in your breast that might be constant or only when you breastfeed
  • nipple discharge, which may be white or contain streaks of blood

You may also get flu-like symptoms, such as aches, a high temperature, chills and tiredness.

You can speak to a pharmacist for advice as well as the following to help symptoms;

  • soak a cloth in warm water and place it on your breast to help relieve the pain - a warm shower or bath may also help
  • rest and drink lots of fluids
  • take paracetamol or ibuprofen to reduce any pain or fever
  • if you are breastfeeding, continue to breastfeed
  • start feeds with the sore breast first
  • express milk from your breast in between feeds
  • massage your breast to clear any blockages – stroke from the lumpy or sore area towards your nipple to help the milk flow


It is important to carry on breastfeeding, even though it may be extremely painful. If you stop breastfeeding, the blockage will only get worse. Continuing to breastfeed will not harm your baby, even if you have an infection. 

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