How Common is Breast Abscess, Know its Causes, Symptoms, Treatment

One of the painful conditions a woman may suffer in her breasts is a breast abscess. It is a painful collection of pus forming in the breast that usually develops under the skin because of the bacterial infection. In this current article of ours we will talk about some of the causes, symptoms, treatments for breast abscess. Hope this will be beneficial for you to read.

How Common is Breast Abscess?

How Common is Breast Abscess?

Before we take a look on the breast abscess any further, let us know about how common this condition is:

  • Now if we take a look on the fact that how common is the breast abscess, then it can be mentioned that women who are in between the age group of 18 to 50 years are most commonly affected with breast abscess.
  • Breast abscesses are often associated with the breast infection, which affects up to 1 in 10 breastfeeding women and leads to an inflamed condition of the breast.
  • It is also found in a study that about 3% of women, who were treated with antibiotic medicines for their breast infection, developed a breast abscess.

Symptoms of Breast Abscess:

Below are some of the symptoms of breast abscess:

  • Breast pain
  • Swelling in the breasts or breast engorgement
  • Itching
  • Nipple discharge
  • Tenderness of the nipples.
  • Redness, swelling and warmth of the breast tissue
  • Tender lymph nodes in the armpit on the affected side of the breast.
  • Breast abscess may also cause fever, nausea etc.

Breast Abscess Symptoms That Require an Immediate Doctor Visit:

Following are some of the symptoms which may indicate serious condition and requires a doctor’s visit on an immediate basis.

  • In case you meet with confusion, loss of consciousness even for a short period of time.
  • In case there is difficulty in breathing or if you have rapid breathing
  • If there is high fever, or if the temperature goes beyond 101 degrees Fahrenheit.

How is a Breast Abscess Formed?

A breast abscess develops with an inflammation of the breast tissue. This is the first stage of development of a breast tissue. This first stage is known as breast infection that causes pain, swelling and tenderness of the affected or inflamed breast. There begins flu-like symptoms and a green or pus-like discharge from the nipples of the infected breast soon the infection sets in.

As mentioned earlier, breast infections are caused by Staphylococcus aureus bacteria which is a common bacteria found on normal skin. The bacteria usually get in to the breast via cracks in the nipple of the affected breast. With this, the body’s immune system tries to fight off the breast infection and with this some of the tissues in the local area dies. This process is known as necrosis. With this, a collection of pus forms which is surrounded by inflamed or hardened tissue. This can often be felt as a lump and is known as a breast abscess.

Causes of Breast Abscess:

So, now coming down to the causes of breast abscess; it can be said that most breast abscesses occur in women as a complication of the breast infection or mastitis that causes the breast to turn red, become inflamed and painful. So, the most important and common cause for breast abscesses is bacterial infection; and the most common bacteria that causes breast abscess is Staphylococcus aureaus. This bacteria usually enters the breast tissues via cracks in the nipples, mostly during breastfeeding phase in women. However the bacteria can also enter in to the breast because of the overgrown amount of bacteria which generally reside in the milk ducts quite harmlessly.

There are also breast abscesses which occur due to the breast infections in non-breastfeeding women which may be due to a rare breast cancer. This can be known with a proper diagnosis done by the medical professional.

What are the Risk Factors for Development of Breast Abscess?

There are a lot of factors which may increase the risk of developing a breast abscess. Following are some of the risk factors we will mention here in this section of our article.

Risk Factors of Developing Breast Abscess in Breastfeeding Women:

  • With the tight bras that may create pressure on the milk ducts
  • Skipping breastfeeding sessions
  • Weaning the baby from breastfeeding too quickly
  • Stress and exhaustion that occurs in new mothers.

Risk Factors of Developing Breast Abscess in Non-Breastfeeding Women:

  • If you are overweight
  • If there is an inflammatory breast cancer
  • In case there is a history of previous breast abscess
  • In case you are at a child-bearing age
  • In case you are using tobacco or if you are smoking.

Treatments for Breast Abscess

Treatments for Breast Abscess:

Let us take a look on the treatments for a breast abscess in this section.

Usually treating breast abscess requires antibiotics to fight against the infection or inflammation in the breast that has developed the breast abscess. However, apart from the antibiotic treatment, breast abscess can also be treated by drainage or by draining out the breast abscess. Let us look at the treatments below.

Treating Small Breast Abscess:

It is essential to drain the breast abscess which has occurred because of a breast infection. A small breast abscess can be easily drained with the help of a needle. Sometimes ultrasound is used so as to guide the needle. This procedure for treating small breast abscess is carried out after the patient is given a local anaesthesia so as to numb the skin over the infected breast issue that may have caused the breast abscess.

Treating Large Breast Abscess:

In order to treat large breast abscess, it is essential to make a small incision or small cut in the abscess so as to let the pus drain out. In this case of treatment, it is required to give an injection of local anaesthetic before the treatment begins, so as to numb the breast tissue of the patient. However, general anaesthesia is required in case the breast abscess is very deep.

In case you are producing milk and a breast abscess is present; you can still try to breastfeed. All you need is to use a breast pump so as to express the milk from the affected breast until you can resume breastfeeding. You can continue to breastfeed your baby from the other breast in a normal and safe way.

However some tests are essential for you to undergo in case you have breast abscess and are not producing milk or not a breastfeeding woman. An X-ray or a mammogram of the breast will help in detecting cysts and growths and there may be a requirement of biopsy which may include taking a tiny sample of breast tissue for any further analysis.

How to Reduce the Risk of Developing Breast Abscess?

Below are some of the ways one can reduce the risk of developing breast abscess:

  • It is essential to breastfeed often and express milk with a pump in case you are a breastfeeding woman.
  • Be sure you are preventing the cracking of the nipples.
  • In case you are a non breastfeeding woman, try to avoid smoking, maintain a healthy weight and prevent irritation or cracking of the skin of the nipples in the breasts.


It is essential to take all the preventive measures so as to keep away from the risk of developing breast abscess. However in case you have been encountered with this problem then be very much aware to reach an expert professional at the earliest possible and take the best treatments so as to get rid of the condition.

Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:August 17, 2018

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