Mastitis is an infection of the breast tissue, almost invariably in a breastfeeding woman. It usually occurs if one of the many lobes in the breast does not adequately empty its milk, and may spread from a sore, cracked nipple. Women nursing for the first time are more frequently affected.
The breast becomes painful, very tender, red and sore, and the woman may become feverish, and quite unwell. Antibiotic tablets such as penicillin or a cephalosporin usually cure the infection rapidly and the woman can continue breastfeeding, but if an abscess forms, an operation to drain away the accumulated pus is necessary. In recurrent cases, bromocriptine may be used to stop or reduce breast milk production.