Breast Abscess

General Illness Information

Common Name:
BREAST ABSCESS

Medical Term: None Specified

Description:

Infection of breast tissue, occurring most often during nursing. The infected area becomes filled with pus.

Causes:

Bacteria that enter the breast through the nipple (usually a cracked nipple during the early days of breast-feeding).

Prevention:

  • Clean the nipples and breasts thoroughly before and after nursing.
  • Lubricate the nipples after nursing with lanolin or Vitamin A & D ointment.
  • Avoid clothing that irritates the breasts.
  • Don’t allow a nursing infant to chew nipples.

Signs & Symptoms

  • Breast pain, tenderness, redness or hardness, swelling.
  • Fever and chills.
  • A generally feeling unwell.
  • Tender lymph glands in the underarm area.

Risk Factors

  • Postpartum pelvic infection.
  • Fatigue.
  • Diabetes mellitus.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Use of steroid medications, low immunity states.
  • Heavy cigarette smoking.
  • Lumpectomy with radiation.
  • Silicone implants.

Diagnosis & Treatment

General Measures:

  • Use warm-water (or cold water if it is more comforting) soaks to relieve pain and hasten healing.
  • Discontinue nursing the baby from the infected breast until it heals. Use a breast pump to express milk regularly from the infected breast until you can resume nursing on that side.
  • Surgery to drain the abscess (infrequent).

Medications:

  • Antibiotics to fight infection.
  • Pain relievers.
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

Activity:

After treatment, resume normal activity as soon as symptoms improve.

Diet:

No special diet.

Possible Complications:

It may be necessary to discontinue breast-feeding temporarily, if the infection is severe enough to require extensive treatment with certain antibiotics (especially tetracycline) and pain relievers.

Prognosis

Usually curable in 8 to 10 days with treatment. Draining the abscess is occasionally necessary to hasten healing.