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Breast Abscess – Causes, Symptoms, Treatment

Written by Dr.Mary

What is a Breast Abscess?

It is simply an infection of the breast tissue and is also known as mastitis. This infection of the tissue happens most of the time while breastfeeding. This infection can cause swelling, increased temperatures of the breast as well as pain. It happens when bacteria usually from the baby’s mouth, enters a milk duct thru a crack normally in the nipple. This is when the infection begins and painful inflammation or breast abscess starts.

Breast Abscess Causes

Infections of the breast more commonly happen 1 to 3 months after the baby is delivered, but they can happen in women who haven’t recently delivered as well as women after menopause. Other causes of infections include chronic mastitis as well as a form of cancer known as inflammatory carcinoma which is very rare.

Infections of the breast normally are caused by common bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus which is normally found on skin. This bacterium finds a crack or break in the skin to enter – usually on the nipple.

After the bacteria gains entry, the infection starts to occur in the fatty tissue area of the breast and swelling will begin. This swelling presses on the ducts of milk which results in lumps as well as pain in the breast that is infected.

Mastitis or inflammation of the tissue of the breast is a common benign cause of a mass of the breast. It is normally seen in those women after childbirth while they are breastfeeding. These masses are quite painful and women who are not breastfeeding may also have mastitis. Mastitis is fairly rare in healthy women. But in women with chronic diabetes, impaired system of immunity or AIDS can be very vulnerable to the growth of mastitis.

Breast Abscess Symptoms

  • Enlargement of the breast on only one side
  • Lump in the breast
  • Pain in the breast
  • Flu-like symptom including vomiting as well as nausea
  • Fever an chills
  • Itching
  • Discharge from the nipple often containing pus
  • Swelling and tenderness
  • Body aches
  • Fatigue
  • Breast engorgement
  • Rigor or shaking
  • Changes in nipple sensation
  • Enlarged or tender lymphatic nodes in the armpit on the same side as the infected breast

Women who are breast-feeding are normally not tested but an examination is normally helpful to verify the conclusion as well as rule out tricky situations for instance an abscess.

Often for those infections which keep recurring, milk taken from the nipple can be cultured. For those women not breast-feeding, tests can include breast biopsy or mammography.


Breast Abscess Treatment

Home-care can consist of the application of heat as well as moisture to the breast tissue that is infected for 15-20 minutes 4 times daily.

Medications such as antibiotics are normally very successful in the treatment of infection. The mother will also be persuaded to keep on breast-feeding or pumping in order to alleviate breast distension from the production of milk while getting treatment. Antibiotic therapy normally clears infections up quickly.

For a simple mastitis with no abscess, oral antibiotics such as cephalexin and dicloxacillin are the 2 most commonly prescribed but there are other also available. Erythromycin can be used if the mother is allergic to other commonly used antibiotics.

In those infections which are severe where an abscess has developed, the abscesses need to be drawn off usually as an office process or by surgery. Those women amid abscesses will almost certainly be told to for the time being stop breast-feeding.

An individual should call their primary care physician if:

  • Any part of the tissue of the breast grows to be tender, hot, swollen or reddened
  • Breastfeeding and grow a very high fever
  • Lymphatic nodes under the arm become swollen or tender

Mastitis which is chronic in women who are not breastfeeding can be complicated to treat. Often this type of infection responds very poorly to antibiotics, so close follow up with the physician is mandatory. If the infection worsens in spite of antibiotic therapy, or if there is a deep abscess which requires surgical treatment, the woman may need to be admitted to the hospital for IV antibiotics.

  • The following can help to decrease the risk of infections of the breast:
  • Care of the nipple to stop cracking and irritation
  • Pumping milk as well as feeding often to avert engorgement
  • Good breast feeding methods with good latching by the baby
  • Slowly weaning, over many weeks, rather than stopping breast feeding abruptly

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