Breast Abscess - Symptoms, causes and treatment

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Breast Abscess - Symptoms, causes and treatment
Breast Abscess - Symptoms, causes and treatment

Breast abscess is a lump in the breast that contains pus. This condition, also known as breast ulcers, is usually caused by an infection, and is often experienced by nursing mothers

Breastfeeding mothers who have breast abscesses need immediate treatment. However, don't worry, breastfeeding mothers with breast abscesses can continue to breastfeed their children with uninfected breasts.

breast abscess - alodokter
breast abscess - alodokter

Causes of Breast Abscess

Inflammation of breast tissue (mastitis) that is not treated immediately or caused by a blockage in the mammary gland, is the main cause of accumulation of pus (abscess) in the breast.

Infection of the breast itself can occur due to several things, one of which is the entry of bacteria from the baby's mouth into the milk ducts through cracks in the nipple. Although it is more common in breastfeeding mothers, non-breastfeeding women and a small percentage of men can also develop breast abscesses.

There are several factors that increase a person's risk of developing a breast abscess, including:

  • Has nipple piercing
  • Suffering from diabetes
  • Has a smoking habit
  • Suffering from HIV/AIDS
  • Have had breast surgery in the last 2 months
  • Have had a breast infection
  • Elderly

Breast Abscess Symptoms

Breast abscess is like a lump under the skin, which is soft to the touch and can be moved. However, this lump cannot be palpated if the abscess grows deeper in the breast.

Other symptoms experienced by breast abscess sufferers can vary, depending on the severity. Complaints that can appear are:

  • Breast redness, swelling, and pain
  • Clumps that don't go away after breastfeeding
  • Push coming out of the nipple
  • Breast pain causes the mother to be unable to breastfeed her child
  • Breasts feel continuous pain that interferes with activities
  • Fever for more than 3 days and not getting better even after treatment

When to see a doctor

Breast abscess is formed as a result of untreated mastitis. Therefore, breastfeeding mothers need to be vigilant and see a doctor if they feel a lump in the breast, and if the breast is red, painful, and swollen.

Every woman is also encouraged to do a breast self-examination (BSE). BSE is done every 7 days after menstruation. The goal is so that if there is an abnormality in the breast, it can be detected early.

Women are also advised to undergo a clinical breast examination (SADANIS) by a doctor. SADANIS is recommended to be done every 1-3 years starting at the age of 20 years. After the age of 40, SADANIS needs to be done regularly at least once a year.

BSE and SADANIS are carried out as a form of anticipation and early examination of diseases of the breast, especially if there is a history of breast cancer in the family.

Breast Abscess Diagnosis

The doctor will perform a physical examination of the patient's breast. Next, the doctor will ask the patient to undergo a breast ultrasound (mammary ultrasound).

USG aims to check the depth and location of infection in the breast, and determine whether the lump is mastitis, breast abscess, or tumor.

The doctor will also take a sample of breast milk or pus from the abscess through an injection, to then be examined in the laboratory. From this examination, the doctor can determine the cause of the infection and determine the appropriate type of treatment.

In addition to ultrasound, scans can also be done with mammography and breast biopsy. However, this procedure is only performed if the patient is not a nursing mother. The test aims to ensure that the symptoms experienced are not cancer symptoms.

Breast Abscess Treatment

To treat breast abscess in breastfeeding mothers, the doctor will give antibiotics, such as cephalexin. It should be noted that breastfeeding mothers can continue to breastfeed their children even though they are using the drug.

Breast abscess can also occur in women who are not breastfeeding. To overcome this, the doctor can give the antibiotic clindamycin or amoxicillin.

Besides treatment with antibiotics, there are other procedures that can be done to treat a breast abscess, namely:

  • Push out with a syringe
  • Drain pus out with the help of a catheter
  • Treating a breast abscess with a special procedure called vacuum assisted biopsy

Meanwhile, pain due to breast abscess can be treated by taking paracetamol and compressing the breast with a towel that has been soaked in warm water or ice water.

During the healing period, patients who are breastfeeding need to keep expressing milk every 2 hours from the affected breast. This is done to prevent further infection. However, the child should not breastfeed from the affected breast because of the risk of contracting infection.

Patients also need to get plenty of rest, eat nutritious food, drink enough water, and manage stress well. These things aim to speed up the healing of a breast abscess.

Breast Abscess Complications

There are several complications that can occur due to a breast abscess, namely:

  • Breast infection relapsed
  • The appearance of scars or scar tissue
  • Breast size shrinks so it looks unbalanced
  • Prolonged (chronic) breast abscess
  • The spread of infection to other parts of the body
  • The appearance of abnormal ducts in the breast
  • Lymphatic duct disorders that cause swelling of the arm (lymphedema)

Breast Abscess Prevention

Mastitis is one of the causes of breast abscess. Therefore, it is important to know ways to prevent mastitis, especially in breastfeeding mothers, including:

  • Always wash your hands before breastfeeding, to avoid the possibility of spreading bacteria
  • Ensuring that the nipple and the brown area around it (areola) adhere perfectly to the child's mouth while breastfeeding
  • Breastfeeding with both breasts alternately and not in the same breastfeeding position continuously
  • Breastfeed regularly and avoid long breaks between feedings
  • Wear a bra that fits well and don't wear tight clothes
  • Do not use creams and ointments on the nipples
  • Do not use nipple pads in the long term
  • Drink lots of water to prevent dehydration
  • Do BSE and SADANIS regularly to detect abnormalities in the breasts early

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