A breast abscess is the formation of an abscess or pus in the breast tissue caused by infection. It makes the mother looks ill and the breast is more painful, enlarged and swollen.
It is a common condition in lactating mothers and needs medical attention to treat breast infections and abscesses to prevent any recurrence. It can also develop in non-lactating women and sometimes in males.
Causes of breast abscess
A breast abscess is the accumulation of pus in the breast tissue from an untreated infection. It may follow acute mastitis (inflammation of the breast tissue), if untreated.
Breast abscess in lactating mothers may develop due to untreated infections, from bacteria on the mother’s skin or baby’s mouth which may enter through cuts on the skin, cracked nipples or clogged milk ducts.
The causative organisms responsible for the pus formation and infection are staphylococcus aureus and streptococcus bacteria. The bacteria enter through the baby’s mouth into the milk duct through a crack in the nipple.
Breast infections most commonly occur in the puerperium period or within two months after delivery.
Symptoms of breast abscess
The common symptoms may include-
- Fever and chills
- Pus discharge from the nipple
- A lump or mass can be felt with palpation
- The affected area becomes sensitive and feels warm.
It is very necessary to seek medical advice when you experience the above-mentioned symptoms.
Diagnosis of breast abscess
Your healthcare provider may take your past history of any abscess and do a physical examination to assess the condition.
To confirm the diagnosis, ultrasound imaging can be done and sometimes biopsy to rule out any breast carcinoma.
Treatment of breast abscess
If breast abscess is not responding to antibiotics then it is treated by draining pus.
First, your health care provider may anaesthetize the area with a local anaesthetic. Then needle aspiration is done in case of superficial mass whereas incision and drainage may be done when there is a deep breast abscess.
After the aspiration of pus, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics to control the infection and analgesics to relieve pain. You may go home following the procedure. Take all the medications as prescribed by the doctor along with, applying warm compresses to ease the pain.
Breastfeeding can be continued in the uninvolved side of the breast. Do not feed on the affected side as it can transmit the infection to the baby.
With every letdown, the affected breast is pumped every 2 hours. Once the problem is resolved, breastfeeding from the involved side may be done.
There is a 10% chance of recurrence, so talk to your healthcare provider about the measures to decrease its recurrence or risk.
In the above post, we discussed the breast abscess in postpartum mothers, its causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment and breastfeeding during breast abscess.