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Breast Infection Causes & Risks


Mastitis occurs when a milk duct in the breast becomes blocked, or the skin around the breast nipple becomes cracked. Both of these situations allow bacteria to enter and infect the breast tissue. Causes of mastitis include pregnancy, breastfeeding, tuberculosis , skin rashes, or, rarely, breast cancer . This article will focus on symptoms and treatment of lactation-associated mastitis.

Risk Factors

A risk factor is something that increases your chance of getting a disease or condition.

Risk factors include:

  • Previous mastitis
  • Abrasion or cracking of the breast nipple
  • Wearing a bra or clothing that is too tight
  • Missed breastfeeding
  • Irregular breastfeeding
  • Pressure on the breasts, caused by:
    • Sleeping on the stomach
    • Holding the breast too tightly during feeding
    • Baby sleeping on the breast
    • Exercising (especially running) without a support bra
  • Anything that causes too much milk to remain in the breast, including:
    • Baby's teething
    • Use of artificial nipple or pacifier
    • Incorrect positioning of the baby during feedings
    • Abrupt weaning
  • Yeast infection of the breast
  • Low resistance to infection or immune deficiency disorder
  • Psoriasis or other skin conditions that affect the nipple
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Use of cortisone drugs
  • Prior breast surgery or implants
  • Smoking

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Breast Infection Guide

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