Mastitis – what is it, and how do I treat it?

Mastitis, the inflammation of the breast, can be caused by blocked milk ducts (non-infective mastitis) or a bacterial infection (infective mastitis).

Some symptoms of mastitis include the breasts becoming tender or painful, hot, reddened, and hard and swollen. Other symptoms may involve the skin being tight and shiny, high temperatures and feeling like you have the flu.

Preventing mastitis

In order to help prevent mastitis, avoid long periods between feeds and instead feed frequently. Wash hands thoroughly before touching breasts after a nappy change, and always make sure the baby is properly positioned and attached on the breast.


If you think you have mastitis, it is important that you visit your regular GP straight away. The treatment should begin immediately, with use of antibiotics. Anti-inflammatory medication or analgesia may be taken to relieve pain if necessary, and breastfeeding or expressing must continue to drain the breast.

Cabbage? On my breasts?

In the past, some home remedies for treating mastitis have involved putting cold cabbage leaves on the breast to reduce inflammation.

This publication is provided for education and information purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical care. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your healthcare professional. Readers should note that over time currency and completeness of the information may change. All users should seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional for a diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.