Breast Abscess and Mastitis

These two things are often different in nature and presentation. It is important to know both so that you can understand the differences.

Breast Abscess

This is a medical condition that occurs when there is an infection that can be found in the Breast of women.

An abscess can occur anywhere on the body. The breast is often tender and at risk of infection. The body walls off the infection and because of inflammation, bacterial infection, and more, the area can become painful, red, and enlarged. In some cases, a purulent discharge may be expressed or drained from the area.

Symptoms often arise during the nursing of a child. But often this occurs without nursing.

A similar infection in the breast that can be seen is called: Mastitis (further description below)

Breast Abscess can occur with other medical conditions such as:

1.)  IV drug use
2.)  Scratching
3.)  Picking at skin
4.)  Spider bite
5.)  Dry skin
6.)  Following an injury to the skin
7.)  Others


–  Redness
–  Breast tenderness or Pain
–  Possible induration
–  Fever
–  Chills
–  Nausea
–  Vomiting


1.)  Physical Exam

2.)  Open and drain the abscess – called I&D

3.)  Laboratory studies to see what type of bacteria is present


When found early  treatment can occur and nursing may continue:

Antibiotics During Nursing

  –  Dicloxacillin
  –  Oxacillin

Antibiotics otherwise

  –  Clindamycin
–  Septra
–  Keflex
–  Others

If a localized mass forms, surgical drainage may be needed.

If so, nursing would then be stopped.


This is a medical condition that occurs when there may or may not be an infection.

A red hot area can take up part of the entire Breast of women.

If you’re not breastfeeding – mastitis occurs due to injury/irritation to the nipple.  There would be no drainage of purulent discharge or any milky substance from the skin itself.

This can be caused by piercings, cracked skin, damage, or others.

It often will feel painful – that may hurt all the time or only when breastfeeding. You may notice a hard lump in the area of redness. The primary cause is not an infection but rather an inflammation. The redness is from skin irritation.

There may be Nipple Discharge – often white or with some blood.


–  Redness
–  Breast tenderness or Pain
–  Possible induration
–  Fever
–  Chills
–  Nausea
–  Vomiting

Causes of Mastitis

1.)  A baby not properly attaching during breastfeeding.

2.)  A baby having difficulty with suckling.

3.)  Missing episodes of breastfeeding or very infrequent feedings.


Breastfeeding with Mastitis is extremely important.

Even if an infection is present – it won’t hurt the baby.

Breastfeed more often than normal.

Express milk at the end of the feeding, or in between.

Antibiotics may be needed if the above treatment does not help or if you are not breastfeeding.

If reoccurring, and non-breastfeeding, Surgery may be recommended.