A breast abscess is a painful collection of pus that forms in the breast.

Most abscesses developjust under the skin and are caused bya bacterial infection.

Breast abscesses are painful, swollen lumps that may also:

  • be red
  • feel hot
  • cause the surroundingskinto swell
  • cause a fever (high temperature)

What causes a breast abscess?

Breast abscesses are often linked to mastitis a condition that causes breast painand swelling (inflammation), and usually affects women who are breastfeeding .

Infections can occur during breastfeeding if bacteria enter your breast tissue, or if themilk ducts (tiny tubes) become blocked. This can cause mastitis which, if not treated, can result inan abscess forming.

Women who aren'tbreastfeeding can also develop mastitis if bacteria enter the milk ducts through a sore or cracked nipple, or a nipple piercing.

Whiteblood cells are sent to attack the infection, which causes tissue at the site of the infection to die. Thiscreates a small, hollow area that fills with pus (an abscess).

If you have mastitis, antibiotics may be prescribedto treat the infection.

If your symptoms persist after taking antibiotics, your GP may refer you for an ultrasound scan , which will confirm whether you have a breast abscess. This type ofscan uses high-frequency sound waves to create an image of the inside of your body.

Treating a breast abscess

Abreast abscess will need to be drained. Small breast abscesses canbedrained using a needle and syringe. If the abscess islarge,a small incision may be needed to drain the pus.

For both procedures, a local anaesthetic will usually be given to numb the skinaround the abscess so you don't feelany pain or discomfort.



Content supplied by the NHS Website

Medically Reviewed by a doctor on 13 Jan 2017