Just Eves
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Breast Abscess

DEFINITION

An infected area of breast tissue that becomes filled with pus when the body is fighting the infection, involving breast tissue, nipple, milk glands and/ or milk ducts.

MOSTLY AFFECTS

women between ages 20 and 40.

SIGNS & SYMPTOMS

  • Breast pain, tenderness, redness or hardness.
  • Fever and chills.
  • A general ill feeling.
  • Tender lymph glands in the underarm area (seldom).

CAUSES

Bacteria that enter the breast usually through a cracked nipple during the early days of breast-feeding.

RISK INCREASES WITH

PREVENTION

  • Clean the nipples and breasts thoroughly before and after nursing.
  • Lubricate the nipples after nursing with lanolin or Vitamin A & D ointment.
  • Avoid clothing that irritates the breasts.
  • Don't allow a nursing infant to chew nipples.

DIAGNOSTIC MEASURES

  • Observation of classical symptoms.
  • History and examination by a doctor.
  • Laboratory culture of the discharge from the abscess to identify the bacteria (usually staphylococcus).

POSSIBLE COMPLICATIONS

It may be necessary to discontinue breast-feeding if the infection is severe enough to require extensive treatment with certain antibiotics and pain relievers.

PROBABLE OUTCOME

Usually curable in 3 to 10 days with treatment. Draining the abscess greatly hastens healing.

TREATMENT

GENERAL MEASURES

  • Use warm-water fomentation to relieve pain and hasten healing.
  • Do not breast feed from the infected breast until it heals. Use a breast pump to express milk regularly from the infected breast until nursing on that side can be resumed.

SPECIFIC

Your doctor may prescribe:

CONTACT YOUR DOCTOR IMMEDIATELY, IF

  • You have symptoms of a breast abscess.
  • Any of the following occurs during treatment:
    • Fever.
    • Unbearable Pain.
    • Infection seems to be spreading, despite treatment.
    • Symptoms don't improve in 72 hours.
  • New, unexplained symptoms develop. Drugs used in treatment may produce side effects.
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