What causes breast abscess?

Breast abscess is caused by a bacterial infection. The most common type of bacteria involved in a breast abscess is Staphylococcus aureus. Bacteria enter through a scratch in the skin or a tear in the nipple. The resulting infection, called mastitis, invades the fatty tissue of the breast and leads to swelling and pressure on the milk ducts. An abscess, or painful, pus-filled lump, can develop in the presence of severe mastitis.

What are the risk factors for breast abscess?

A number of factors increase your risk of developing breast abscess. Not all people with these risk factors will develop a breast abscess. Risk factors for breast abscess in women who are breastfeeding include:

  • Not staying on a consistent feeding schedule
  • Pressure on the milk ducts from a too-tight bra
  • Skipping breastfeeding sessions
  • Stress and exhaustion in new mothers
  • Weaning the baby from breastfeeding too quickly

Risk factors for breast abscess in women who are not breastfeeding include:

  • Being of child-bearing age
  • Being overweight
  • Having a history of previous breast abscess
  • Inflammatory breast cancer (a rare type of breast cancer)
  • Smoking or other tobacco product use

Reducing your risk of breast abscess

If you are breastfeeding, you may be able to lower your risk of breast abscess by:

  • Breastfeeding often or expressing milk manually with a pump
  • Preventing irritation or cracking of the nipples

If you are not breastfeeding, you may be able to lower your risk of breast abscess by:

  • Avoiding use of tobacco products
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Preventing irritation or cracking of the breast skin and nipples
INTRODUCTION

What is breast abscess?

A breast abscess is a painful infection brought on by bacteria. The type of bacteria that most frequently produces breast infection is Staphylococcus aureus. Bacteria can enter through a crack in the skin of the breast or on the nipple. The resulting infection, called mastitis, invades the fatty tissue of the breast, leading to swelling and pressure on the milk ducts. An abscess is a hollo... Read more about breast abscessintroduction

SYMPTOMS

What are the symptoms of breast abscess?

Symptoms of breast abscess include pain and swelling in the breast, fever and nipple discharge. The severity of the symptoms can vary.

Common symptoms of breast abscess

The most common symptoms of breast abscess include:

TREATMENTS

How is breast abscess treated?

Treatment for breast abscess begins with seeking medical care from your health care provider. An abscess can generally be diagnosed based on your description of symptoms and a physical exam by your health care provider.

Your health care provider may choose to administer tests such as a white blood cell count (WBC). A WBC test will measure the extent of the body’s immune reaction. ... Read more about breast abscesstreatments

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Aug 23, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.