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Breast Abscess

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GENERAL INFORMATION

DESCRIPTION
A breast abscess is an infected area of breast tissue that becomes filled with pus when the body fights the infection. Body parts involved include breast tissue, the nipple, milk glands, and milk ducts. Breast abscesses can affect girls at puberty and, very seldom, boys.

Appropriate health care includes:

  • Self-care after diagnosis.
  • Physician’s monitoring of general condition and medications.
  • Surgery to drain the abscess.

SIGNS & SYMPTOMS

  • Breast pain, tenderness, redness, or hardness.
  • Fever and chills.
  • A general ill feeling.
  • Tender lymph glands in the child’s underarm area.

CAUSES

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

RISK FACTORS

  • Post-partum pelvic infection.
  • Fatigue.

PREVENTING COMPLICATIONS OR RECURRENCE

Instructions for your daughter:

  • 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.

BASIC INFORMATION

MEDICAL TESTS

  • Your own observation of symptoms.
  • Medical history and physical exam by a doctor.
  • Laboratory culture of the discharge from the abscess to identify the bacteria (usually staphylococcus).

POSSIBLE COMPLICATIONS

It may be necessary for your daughter to discontinue breast-feeding if the infection is severe enough to require extensive treatment with certain antibiotics (especially tetracycline) and pain relievers.

PROBABLE OUTCOME

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

TREATMENT

HOME CARE

  • Use warm-water soaks to relieve pain and hasten healing.
  • Your daughter should discontinue nursing the baby from the infected breast until it heals. She can use a breast pump to express milk regularly from the infected breast until she can resume nursing on that side.

MEDICATION

  • Your doctor may prescribe:
  • Antibiotics to fight infection.
  • Pain relievers.

ACTIVITY

After treatment, your child can resume normal activity as soon as symptoms improve.

DIET & FLUIDS

No special diet.

OK TO GO TO SCHOOL?

When abscess has healed or drained.

CALL YOUR DOCTOR IF

  • Your child has symptoms of a breast abscess.
  • Any of the following occurs during treatment: — Fever rises to 103F (39.4C) or higher. — Pain becomes unbearable. — 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.

From the Complete Guide to Pediatric Symptoms, Illness & Medications by H. Winter Griffith, M.D. © 1989 The Putnam Berkley Group, Inc.; electronic rights by Medical Data Exchange.

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