Australian Family Physician
Australian Family Physician


Volume 40, Issue 12, December 2011

Lactational mastitis and breast abscess Diagnosis and management in general practice

Leila Cusack Meagan Brennan
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Lactational mastitis is common, affecting one in 5 breastfeeding women. As well as causing significant discomfort, it is a frequent reason for women to stop breastfeeding.
This article outlines an evidence based approach to the diagnosis and management of lactational breast infections in general practice.
Lactational mastitis is usually bacterial in aetiology and can generally be effectively managed with oral antibiotics. Infections that do not improve rapidly require further investigation for breast abscess and nonlactational causes of inflammation, including the rare cause of inflammatory breast cancer. In addition to antibiotics, management of lactational breast infections include symptomatic treatment, assessment of the infant’s attachment to the breast, and reassurance, emotional support, education and support for ongoing breastfeeding.

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