Merck Manual

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Breast Infection and Breast Abscess

(Mastitis)

By

The Manual's Editorial Staff

Last full review/revision Oct 2019| Content last modified Oct 2019
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What are breast infections and breast abscesses?

 A breast infection is an infection in the tissue of the breast.

If your breast infection goes untreated, it can become a breast abscess.

  • A breast abscess is a pocket of pus that forms a lump in your breast

  • A breast abscess is very rare

What are the symptoms of a breast infection?

If you have a breast infection, an area of your breast gets:

  • Tender

  • Swollen

  • Red

  • Warm

What causes breast infections?

  • Breast infections are rare but happen more often around childbirth, after an injury, or after surgery

  • You’re more likely to get a breast infection if you have diabetes or if you take corticosteroids (medicine to lower swelling and pain)

How do doctors treat a breast infection or breast abscess?

Doctors have you take antibiotics to treat the infection.

Doctors usually drain an abscess. To do this, doctors will:

  • Do an ultrasound (a test that uses sound waves to create a moving picture of the insides of your body) to see where to place the needle

  • Drain the abscess with a needle

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