What is a Breast Abscess?
A breast abscess is a local accumulation of pus in the form of a lump within your breast due to infection and is painful in nature.
Who is at Risk of a Breast Abscess?
If you are a breastfeeding mother or if you have mastitis, then you are at a higher risk of developing a breast abscess. However, there are reports of breast abscesses occurring in women who are not breastfeeding. Additionally, those who have conditions such as breast hypoplasia and functional mastectomy may also develop a breast abscess.
What Causes a Breast Abscess?
A breast abscess is mainly caused by a bacterial infection. This can occur due to the entry of bacteria into your breast tissue or from blocked milk ducts. A breast abscess is often linked to mastitis. If you do not get mastitis properly treated, there is a chance that an abscess will form. You are likely to develop a breast abscess in the following scenarios.
- Post-delivery breastfeeding.
- Early weaning of your baby from feeding.
- Skipping breastfeeding sessions regularly.
- Inflammatory breast cancer.
- Wearing a tight bra and pressuring milk ducts.
- Nourishing baby in an improper way.
- Stress and exhaustion post-delivery.
- Use of tobacco products or smoking.
What are the Symptoms of a Breast Abscess?
You must visit your doctor if you notice the following symptoms in your breast.
- Localized, painful swelling of the breast.
- Redness and soreness of the breast with a lump under the skin.
- Pus discharge from the nipples or swelling.
- Malaise, fatigue, fever and related chills.
How Can a Breast Abscess be Diagnosed?
You should see your doctor if your breast has localized redness or swelling. Your doctor may perform ‘an aspiration’ of the lump to confirm that the swelling is indeed an abscess. You may also be asked to undergo an ultrasound scan to further establish the diagnosis.
How is a Breast Abscess Treated?
- Your doctor will numb the skin over the infected breast tissue with local anesthesia and drain away from the pus from the abscess.
- In addition to this, your doctor may also prescribe a full course of antibiotics to treat the infection.
- You may be asked to discard the milk from the affected breast until the abscess heals.
Preventing a Breast Abscess
It is important for you to avoid developing a breast abscess, especially if you are a breastfeeding mother. To prevent a breast abscess from developing, follow these simple steps:
- Breastfeed often and ensure breasts are empty after every feeding.
- Ensure your baby is latched on correctly during feeding.
- Take care to prevent cracking of the nipples or skin on the breasts.
- Totally stop the consumption of tobacco products and quit smoking.
- Make sure your weight is under control and try to lose weight if you are overweight.
- Make sure you take extra care while cleaning the skin on the breast and nipple.