With mastitis, signs and symptoms can appear suddenly and may include:
• Breast tenderness or warmth to the touch
• Generally feeling ill or sick
• Swelling of the breast
• Pain or a burning sensation the whole time you are breast-feeding
• Skin redness, often in a wedge-shaped pattern (like the texture of an orange)
• Fever of 101 F or greater
Some mothers mistakenly wean their babies when they develop mastitis. In most cases breastfeeding can continue during mastitis. Many mothers with mastitis worry about passing the infection to their infant. It is important to understand that breast milk contains many antibacterial components that protect the infant from infection. Mothers who are breastfeeding are typically encouraged to continue nursing their babies while receiving treatment for mastitis. Breastfeeding can help clear plugged ducts, which will reduce the accumulation of milk and help the infant maintain proper nursing techniques. In general, mothers do not have to worry about harming the health of their baby as the antibiotics used to treat these infections are usually safe for breast-feeding.
If you have an infection and it's diagnosed early, it's easy and quick to treat. As soon as you recognize this combination of signs and symptoms, it's time to contact your doctor. You should start feeling improvement within 48 hours of starting antibiotics, and it won't be long before you feel 100 percent better!
An untreated infection can lead to breast abscesses (an infected cyst). For small abscesses, aspiration with a needle and syringe plus antibiotics is needed, though it may be necessary to repeat the aspiration more than once.