Breast Abscess

What is Breast Abscess?

A Breast abscess is a painful collection of pus that forms in the breast. A swollen lump develops under the skin, and is primarily caused by a bacterial infection. One in ten women (in the age group of 18 - 50 years) is affected by breast abscess. It has also been found that around 3% of women with mastitis, who are/were being treated with antibiotics, develop breast abscesses. A breast abscess usually affects women post-pregnancy, especially breastfeeding mothers. It causes breast pain and swelling (inflammation).


Some common symptoms of breast abscess are:

  • Pain the breast.
  • Formation of lumps.
  • Fatigue.
  • Chills.
  • Warmness or redness.
  • Malaise.
  • Swelling and pus.
  • Fever.


The cause of such an infection is mainly due to a blocked milk duct or entry of bacteria into the breast tissue. Women who are not breastfeeding can also develop the disease. Some common causes of the disease are:

  • Breastfeeding during early post-delivery period.
  • Nourishing baby in an unsteady pace.
  • Tight bra can put pressure on milk ducts.
  • Skipping breastfeeding sessions.
  • Stress and exhaustion in new mothers.
  • Weaning the baby from breastfeeding too quickly.
  • Being of childbearing age.
  • Being overweight.
  • Inflammatory breast cancer.
  • Smoking or use of tobacco.


Some common risks of breast abscess are:

  • Breast hypoplasia.
  • Scarring.
  • Sepsis.
  • Functional mastectomy.
  • Fistula.
  • Necrotising fasciitis.


To prevent a breast abscess from forming, you should do the following:

  • Breastfeed often or express milk with a pump.
  • Prevent irritation or cracking of the nipples.
  • Avoid the consumption of tobacco, and quit smoking.
  • Lose weight.
  • Clean the skin on the breast and nipple with extra care.

How is it diagnosed?

A breast abscess diagnosis can be confirmed with an ultrasound scan.This is done by using high-frequency sound waves. These waves create an image of the body.


How is it treated?

The disease can be treated through the following treatment:


  • Drainage through an incision

    A breast abscess needs to be drained out. This can be done using a small needle or syringe. In the case of a large abscess, the doctor will make a small incision to drain out the pus. The doctor will also prescribe a course of antibiotics to treat the infection.

When do I contact the doctor?

A breast abscess is an infection mainly caused by bacteria and should not be ignored. You should contact a doctor immediately if the infected area is red and painful.

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