Worried about a breast abscess? This article will give you a quick guide on the problem. We will explain what causes the infection, how to spot it and what can be done about it. An abscess is the formation of the pus, and in the case of the breast, may form under the skin – commonly in the milk ducts or in any other tissues.
Breast Abscess Causes
There a a variety of factors, but the common causes include:
- Skin cracks
- Crack or lesion in the nipples and/or areola
- Suppressed immune system
- Infections elsewhere in the body
- Poor levels of hygiene
Women and lactating mothers are at a higher risk of acquiring breast abscess. But the problem may also arise in non-lactating women.
Breast Abscess Symptoms
How can you tell if you have the problem? Look out for any of these signs and symptoms:
- Breast redness and/or swelling
- Pain and tenderness
- Fever or chills, with more severe infection
- Sensation of fullness
- Presence of pus coming out of the nipple
- Body malaise (i.e. overall feeling of being unwell).
Breast Abscess Treatment
The treatment for breast abscess is typically with oral antibiotics. In addition, there are many treatment options depending on the case and assessment from your physician.
When you attend your doctor, a medical history shall be obtained. Other underlying medical illnesses are assessed as well. Medications and therapies that you may be taking must be disclosed, as should any known allergies.
The problem must be treated ASAP, to prevent the pus from enlarging and rupturing. If the pus ruptures inside, it may cause a systemic (bodily) infection, which is harder and takes longer to treat.
Medical Treatment of Breast Abscess:
- Oral antibiotics
- For small infections, a needle aspiration procedure may be performed. A sterile technique is observed. Local anesthesia may be given or not, a needle is inserted in the location of the pus and is aspirated (sucked out) with a syringe.
- Breastfeeding may be temporarily stopped. However, the milk should be sterile unless the pus ruptured already.
- If the oral antibiotics and pus aspiration were not effective, then a surgical intervention may be performed. This is under local anesthesia for shallow pus. And it will be under general anesthesia in some cases depending on the depth and size of the pus. The physician will create an incision in the area. The capsule enclosing the pus is carefully removed. This is so the capsule does not rupture and spill its contents inside. After the surgery, medications like antibiotics and pain killers are prescribed.
Self-medicating is dangerous and is ill-advised seek professional care if you have a problem. Self-examination and observation of any changes in the breasts must be reported to the physician right away. The sooner any problem is detected, the easier and faster the treatment.
Prevention of Breast Abscesses:
- Wear properly fitting support bra
- Practice proper hygiene by bathing daily and regular changing of clothes
- Proper breast hygiene before and after breastfeeding
- Yearly physical examination with the physician to maintain overall health
- Proper diet – to nourish the body with essential nutrients. Ideal body weight needs to be maintained.
- Lifestyle modification – such as alcohol and smoking cessation
Now you know the causes and symptoms of a breast abscess. You are armed with the steps necessary to prevent future problems and you know what to expect if an abscess on your breast arises.