A breast abscess involves sore buildup of pus in the breast. Generally, most cases form under the skin and triggered by a bacterial infection. In some cases, an abscess can be a painful, tender lump that is reddened and warm accompanied by swelling of the adjacent skin and fever.
The condition typically affects women between the ages of 18-50. It is often associated to mastitis that affects breastfeeding women. In one study, it was discovered that a small percentage of women with mastitis who were managed with antibiotics ended up with a breast abscess.
What are the causes?
A breast abscess is often associated with mastitis. This condition causes breast pain and inflammation that affects breastfeeding women. An infection can develop during breastfeeding if bacteria enters the breast tissue or if the milk ducts are clogged. This can lead to mastitis that can result to the formation of an abscess if not properly treated.
Women who are not breastfeeding can also end up with mastitis if bacteria enter the milk ducts via a cracked or sore nipple or piercing.
During an infection, white blood cells act which causes the tissues to die. This results to the formation of a small, hollow site that is filled with pus.
When to consult a doctor
A doctor should be consulted if the breast is sore or red. If mastitis is present, antibiotics are given to manage the infection.
In case the symptoms persist after using antibiotics, the doctor might require an ultrasound to confirm whether a breast abscess is present.
Management of a breast abscess
A breast abscess requires drainage. If it is small, it is drained using a needle and syringe. For a large-sized abscess, a small incision is made to drain the pus.
In both procedures, a local anesthetic is given to numb the skin around the breast abscess.