Breast Abscess : What it is and what are the treatment options ?


An abscess is an infection-related buildup of pus inside the body. A breast abscess, a common illness in breastfeeding females, can result from an infection in the breast.

To effectively treat breast infections and abscesses and stop recurrent cases, it is crucial to contact a doctor.

Causes Of Breast Abscess

A breast infection-related pus accumulation is referred to as a breast abscess. Mastitis, an inflammation of the breast tissue, can also result in infections.

Although breastfeeding women are more likely to develop a breast abscess than non-lactating women or men, this ailment can affect anyone.

Breast abscesses associated with lactation develop when a bacterial infection from your skin or your baby's mouth goes untreated. Then the bacteria might enter:

  • Your milk ducts, damaged nipples, and skin injuries
  • Mastitis typically appears six weeks after childbirth in breastfeeding females
  • Breast abscesses can form in both men and non-lactating women from untreated infections, although it is less frequent. Subareolar breast abscesses are another name for these. 
  • Bacteria can get into the breast through:

Nipple piercings, cracked nipples, and cuts on the breast tissues

If a mastitis infection in the breast is not promptly treated, a breast abscess may develop.

Breastfeeding mothers are most frequently affected by mastitis. Women who are not nursing may also experience it, though this is less typical.

Mastitis should be treated as soon as possible to lessen the chance of an abscess developing.

How to check if you have Breast Abscess?

The signs of an infection and a breast abscess are identical. You cannot tell if you have an abscess or an infection unless a doctor examines you.

Based on a physical examination, a medical professional can be suspicious about a breast abscess. They might also inquire about your medical history, particularly whether you have ever experienced an abscess.

A medical professional will also need to do an ultrasound, which is an imaging test, to conclusively diagnose a breast abscess. Your doctor can then decide to do a fine needle aspiration to obtain a sample if an abscess is still suspected to exist. Additionally, this aids in eliminating other potential causes including cancer or benign cysts.

Breast Abscess Symptoms

The following are typical signs of a breast abscess:

  • Pain
  • Redness
  • Swelling 
  • Heated skin 
  • Nipple discharge from a different breast area

In addition to weariness, an active infection can cause a fever, chills, and other symptoms. If you are exhibiting these symptoms, consult a doctor.

If you are currently receiving antibiotics for a breast infection but do not feel better after two days, you should also consult a doctor.

If you see any indications of an infection,or any of the following signs, please contact the doctor:

  • pus from the treated area
  • redness and a fever

Breast Abscess Prevention

A breast abscess case is considered to be recurring if another one develops within six months of the preceding one.

Getting rid of an infection or mastitis may lower your chance of getting a breast abscess. However, there is a substantial likelihood of recurrence once you have an abscess in your breast. 

According to researchers, women who smoke tend to develop breast abscesses more frequently. Giving up smoking may lower your risk of developing initial and recurrent abscesses. Recurrent breast infections may also be associated with surgery, nipple piercings, diabetes, and obesity.

Breast Abscess Treatments

Draining the pus from the affected area is part of treating a breast abscess.

To make sure you do not experience any pain, your doctor will first numb your skin with a local anaesthetic. After that, they will either make a little incision to physically drain the abscess or use a needle to extract the pus. The latter choice is less invasive but may call for several treatments.

You can anticipate leaving for home the day of your treatment with any choice. Your doctor will probably advise taking antibiotics, and he or she might also advise using warm compresses to relieve any discomfort.

Breast Abscess Recovery

In general, a breast abscess recovery can take a few days or up to three weeks. This is dependent on the initial infection's severity and whether the abscess returns.

You will be given medicines to use after your breast abscess treatment in order to stop further infections. Even if you start to feel better, take the entire amount as directed.

Treatment-related complications for breast abscesses include:

  • Scarring
  • Asymmetry in the breasts
  • Alterations to the nipples, and internal sores known as fistulas

During your recovery, consult your doctor if you are breastfeeding. While some medical professionals think this would hasten the healing process, others consider that it will spread disease. Breastmilk is a dependable source of the infection.

Complications of Breast Abscess

Sepsis is a potentially fatal consequence that can occasionally result from an untreated illness. This happens because the virus has spread throughout your entire body, including important organs. You will probably be admitted to the hospital for additional treatment if your doctor suspects sepsis.

Sepsis warning indicators could include:

  • chills and a fever
  • clammy skin and a rapid heartbeat
  • reduced blood pressure
  • disorientation, increasing discomfort, and shortness of breath

Breast abscesses are painful pus-filled collections that frequently affect nursing women and result from untreated illnesses. If you experience breast symptoms like discomfort, swelling, redness, or pus, visit your doctor.

To alleviate your symptoms, a breast abscess is treated by draining the pus. Antibiotics will also be required to treat any underlying infections.

Even though breast abscesses can come back, there are measures to stop them from happening again. Ask your doctor on how to reduce your chance of recurrence and discuss your present lifestyle with them.

For further information please access the following resources

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Page last reviewed: Mar 14, 2023

Next review due: Mar 14, 2025

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