A breast abscess is a complication that can arise from mastitis, predominantly seen in breastfeeding mothers two to three weeks postpartum. It's essential to understand the causes and symptoms of a breast abscess to seek timely treatment and ensure the wellbeing of both the mother and the baby.

What Causes a Breast Abscess?

Often originating from a blocked milk duct or prolonged, unrelieved engorgement, a breast abscess happens when breast milk remains stagnant within the breast. When bacteria gain entry through cracks in the nipples or areola, it can lead to an infection. If not addressed promptly, this infection may result in the formation of a pus-filled abscess.

Spotting the Symptoms of a Breast Abscess:

  • Swelling of the breast accompanied by redness and a sensation of heat.
  • Painful lumps palpable within the breast.
  • Systemic symptoms such as fever, chills, body aches, potentially accompanied by nausea and vomiting.
  • The lymph nodes under the arm, corresponding to the affected breast, may become swollen and painful.

Immediate Action: Treatment & Care

At the first hint of mastitis or breast abscess symptoms, it's imperative to seek medical attention immediately.

Guidelines for Self-care During Recovery:

  1. Warm Compresses: Apply these before and in between breastfeeding sessions. This helps alleviate pain and facilitates smoother milk flow.
  2. Cold Compresses: Use these after breastfeeding or pumping sessions. Their purpose is to lessen pain and swelling. Also, make efforts to empty the breast milk to avoid further complications.
  3. Pain Management: If the pain becomes overbearing, consider painkillers such as paracetamol, but always consult with a healthcare professional.
  4. Breastfeeding Continuation: Endeavour to continue breastfeeding. If the affected breast becomes too painful, extract milk from it using a pump and breastfeed the baby using the healthier breast.
  5. General Health: Prioritise rest, hydration, and consume nutritious, balanced meals for a faster recovery.