Your doctor diagnoses mastitis based on a physical exam, taking into account signs and symptoms such as fever, chills and breast pain. Another clear sign is a wedge-shaped area of redness on the breast that points toward the nipple and is tender to the touch.
Your doctor will make sure you don't have a breast abscess — a complication that can occur when mastitis isn't treated promptly. A culture of your breast milk might help guide your doctor in determining the best antibiotic for you, especially if your infection is severe.
A rare form of breast cancer — inflammatory breast cancer — also can cause redness and swelling that could initially be confused with mastitis. Your doctor may recommend a diagnostic mammogram. If your signs and symptoms persist even after you complete a course of antibiotics, you may need a biopsy to make sure you don't have breast cancer.
June 12, 2015
- Dixon JM. Lactational mastitis. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed April 23, 2015.
- FAQ on mastitis. La Leche League International. http://www.llli.org/FAQ/mastitis.html. Accessed April 23, 2015.
- Mastitis: Causes and management. World Health Organization. http://www.who.int/maternal_child_adolescent/documents/fch_cah_00_13/en/. Accessed April 23, 2015.
- AskMayoExpert. Mastitis. Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2014.
- Ferri FF. Mastitis. In: Ferri's Clinical Advisor 2015: 5 Books in 1. Philadelphia, Pa.: Mosby Elsevier; 2015. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed May 28, 2015.