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Breast Infection and Breast Abscess

(Mastitis)

By

Lydia Choi

, MD, Karmanos Cancer Center

Last full review/revision Jun 2022| Content last modified Jun 2022
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Breast infections are usually caused by bacteria. Rarely, breast infections lead to a breast abscess (a collection of pus in the breast). Mastitis refers to painful inflammation of the breast, which is usually accompanied by a breast infection.

Breast infection

Breast infections Breast Infection A breast infection ( mastitis) can occur after delivery ( postpartum infection), usually during the first 6 weeks and almost always in women who are breastfeeding. If the baby is not positioned... read more do not often develop, except around the time of childbirth or after an injury or surgery. Having diabetes or taking corticosteroids increases the risk of breast infections.

The most common symptom of mastitis (including breast infections) is a swollen, red area that feels warm and tender. An uncommon type of breast cancer called inflammatory breast cancer Other characteristics Other characteristics can cause similar symptoms.

A breast infection after childbirth is treated by breastfeeding, massage, or use of a breast pump to empty milk from the breast. Sometimes antibiotics are needed. Breast infections at other times are treated with antibiotics.

If taking antibiotics does not relieve the infection, doctors do an evaluation to check for cancer.

Breast abscess

Breast abscesses are less common than breast infections. An abscess may develop if a breast infection is not treated.

Doctors usually drain (aspirate) an abscess with a needle. Ultrasonography is used to guide placement of the needle. Sometimes doctors need to make an incision to drain the abscess.

Usually, women are also treated with antibiotics.

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