Breast Pain caused by an Abscess

A breast abscess is a painful lump filled with pus under the skin. Breast pain caused by Abscess is one of many key symptoms experienced by the patient when Mastitis is left untreated. This is more common in females who are lactating or breastfeeding, however, this condition can develop in anyone.

Location of pain

The pain is mostly located at the point of the abscess and affected breast only.

Symptoms

  • Tenderness at the point of inflammation.
  • Redness of skin.
  • Temperature is slightly hotter than the surrounding skin.
  • Fever.
  • Swelling of surrounding structures.
  • Decreased production of milk.
  • Mostly forms after Mastitis.
  • Pus filled lumps in the breast.
  • Discharge from the nipples.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Lethargy.

Causes

Women who are nursing are more prone to getting infected via the pores in the nipples that carry bacteria into the breast tissue through the milk ducts. This bacteria has favorable breeding conditions once the duct gets blocked or there is stasis of milk, in case of infrequent feeding. This infection of breast tissue is known as Mastitis and if left untreated can complicate into an Abscess.

White blood cells in the body are sent by the immune system to fight against infection, these cells cause tissue necrosis and accumulation of inflammatory mediators. Breast pain caused by Abscess is the result of an accumulation of inflammatory mediators in the tissue in the form of pus.

The causative agent for abscess formation in lactating females is Staphylococcus Aureus. Whereas, in nonlactating cases, which is quite rare, Staphylococcus Aureus, Streptococcus, and some anaerobic bacteria are involved.

Risk factors

  • Breastfeeding or lactating women.
  • Infrequent feed.
  • Ongoing mastitis that is not being treated.
  • Nipple piercing or Breast implants.
  • Nipple thrush all cracked skin.

Complications

Following are the probable complications of breast abscess if not properly treated:

  • Formation of a fistula.
  • Disfigurement of the breast.
  • Scaring of the area.
  • The breast abscess can burst, contaminating the surrounding tissues.

Diagnosis

A breast abscess is mostly diagnosed based on the previous history of mastitis with poor recovery and compliance of the patient. Other than that, your doctor might go on to perform a clinical breast examination and an Ultrasound to confirm the diagnosis. A biopsy of the fluid will also be done in a suspected case.

Management

To get rid of the Breast pain caused by Abscess, Medical and Surgical approaches are necessary:

Medical treatment:

  • Painkillers for excessive pain.
  • Antibiotics for ongoing infection.
  • Antipyretics for high fever.
  • Symptomatic treatment for other ongoing symptoms can also be given.

Surgical treatment:

  • Needle aspiration of the fluid from lump smaller than 3 cm in women who are lactating.
  • Incision and drainage of the abscess are done in case of a mass larger than 3cm.
  • If a non-lactating person develops an abscess, there are higher chances of reoccurrence, and more than one extraction and drainage will be required.

Home Remedies

  • Apply moisturizer to keep the nipples from cracking.
  • Avoid taking long breaks between feeds
  • Empty out the breast frequently by using breast pumps.
  • Do not stop breastfeeding at any point.
  • Warm compresses to ease the inflammation.
  • Properly fitted bra to support the breast properly.

When to consult a doctor?

Following are some conditions when a breast abscess requires medical attention:

  • If you have an infection in both breasts.
  • Discharge from nipples.
  • High fever and vomiting.
  • Red streaks on the skin over the abscess.

FAQ

Does a breast infection always complicate to form an abscess?

No, only if the breast infection/ mastitis is left untreated for very long, is when it complicates and develop an abscess.

Why do I need to take antibiotics for a breast abscess?

A breast abscess develops due to an ongoing infection. To fight the bacteria an antibiotic is required.

Can a breast abscess burst?

Yes, if excessive pressure is applied and the abscess is large enough it can burst to contaminate the surrounding tissues as well. This requires active management.