A breast abscess is a painful build-up of pus in the breast caused by an infection. It usually affects women who are breastfeeding.
Bacterial infections usually cause the formation of pus below the skin. When pus forms in the breast it is known as a breast abscess. This condition can be painful and requires antibiotic treatment and/ or drainage to prevent complications.
Breast abscess may be a result of mastitis, which is also known as lactation abscess that affects milk ducts of the nipple in a breastfeeding woman. Mastitis may result when the breast produces more and the extra milk accumulates within the breast.
Breast abscesses are common in women aged 18 to 50 years old, especially if they are breastfeeding. There are two categories of breast abscesses; the lactational abscess, which forms in the peripheral areas of the breast usually in the upper and outer section and the non-lactational abscess located in the lower sections of the breast.
Breast infections may often have the following symptoms:
- Breast pain
- Warmth of the breast
- Tenderness and swelling
- Body aches
- Fever and chills
Pus may need to be collected and sent to a lab to determine the cause of the infection. Culture and sensitivity tests may be done.
The diagnostic assessments may include:
- Breast ultrasound
- MRI scan
The pus can be drained from an abscess with either a needle or a small cut in your skin. This can be accomplished using ultrasound. A local anesthetic injection is given then drainage of the pus is done. Painkillers may be prescribed to ease pain and inflammation. Antibiotics may also be given to control the infection.