Help with Common Breast Problems

Breast Infections

Breast infections frequently occur during breast feeding and may lead to a breast abscess. The problem is caused by bacteria infecting the milk that is within the breast. Prompt treatment with antibiotics often resolves the problem before it becomes very painful or before an abscess develops.

The first signs of infection are pain within the breast, thickening and hardening of the tissue, redness of the skin and maybe warm to touch. You may also develop a temperature. Sometimes the infection develops further and a pocket of pus results. This is a breast abscess and needs to be treated not only with antibiotics but also by drainage of the pus. This is sometimes possible through a needle under ultrasound control but on occasion a small operation is the most effective and quick way of settling things down.

In women who are not pregnant or breast feeding breast infections can occur around the nipple, and this is particularly the case in women who smoke. In these cases infections arise due to a more long term irritation and blockage of the large breast ducts underneath the nipple. This results in a painful lump appearing either under, or just next to, the nipple.

There is often redness or sometimes a discharge of pus from the tip of the nipple. Again this type of infection can be treated effectively with antibiotics if it is caught early. If the infection develops further and a small abscess develops, antibiotics on their own are less likely to work and a small operation to drain the pus may be necessary.

This type of breast infection can reoccur over and over again and may become a long term problem with the development of a constantly discharging opening at the edge of the nipple. This is termed a as mammary fistula and may never heal by itself without surgery.

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