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Women's Health Mastitis and Breast Abscess

Mastitis and Breast Abscess

Infection can sometimes develop in breast tissue, causing discomfort. This is known as a condition called mastitis, and it is important that you seek professional help from a doctor for your condition.

What is mastitis?

Mastitis is defined as inflammation of the breast with or without infection. The inflammation results in breast pain, swelling, warmth and redness. It may also be associated with fever and chills.


Mastitis with infection may be lactational (puerperal) or nonlactational (e.g., duct ectasia). Noninfectious mastitis includes idiopathic granulomatous inflammation and other inflammatory conditions (e.g., foreign body reaction). 


What is breast abscess?

Breast abscess is a localised area of infection with a walled-off collection of pus. It may or may not be associated with mastitis. Pus is made up of inflammatory exudate which is dead bacteria and white blood cells.

Who is affected by breast abscess and/or mastitis?

Mastitis most commonly affects women who are breast-feeding (lactation mastitis). But mastitis can also occur in women who aren't breast-feeding and in men.


Breast abscess most commonly affects women who are breast-feeding (lactation abscess). But breast abscess can also occur in women who aren’t breastfeeding and in men.

What are the symptoms of mastitis or breast abscess?

Mastitis usually presents with breast pain, swelling, warmth and redness. It may also be associated with fever and chills.


Breast abscess usually presents with breast pain, swelling, warmth and redness. Some patients present with swelling or a lump in the breast associated with pain and redness. It may also be associated with fever and chills.

Breast infection

What causes breast abscess and/or mastitis?


Breast abscess is caused by infection and usually as a result of mastitis (infection in the breast). Some breast abscesses arise from infection in the skin such as infected sebaceous cyst.


Mastitis can be categorised into lactational and non-lactational. 

  1. Lactational mastitis is common in breastfeeding women as it can be caused by a build-up of milk.

  2. Non-lactational mastitis can affect men & women. It can happen due to:

  • Smoking – toxins found in tobacco can damage breast tissue

  • Damage to the nipple, such as a piercing or skin condition like eczema

  • You have a breast implant

  • Having a weak immune system due to a health condition like diabetes

  • Shaving or plucking hairs from around your nipples

How are breast abscess and mastitis treated?


Mastitis treatment might involve:

  • Antibiotics. If you have an infection, a 10-day course of antibiotics is usually needed. It's important to take all of the medication to minimize your chance of recurrence. If your mastitis doesn't clear up after taking antibiotics, follow up with your doctor.

  • Pain relievers. 

  • Anti-inflammatory medicines 

It's safe to continue breast-feeding if you have mastitis. Breast-feeding actually helps clear the infection. Weaning your baby abruptly is likely to worsen your signs and symptoms.

When should I see a doctor?

It might be helpful to see a lactation consultant to help relieve blocked ducts and improve latching/pumping techniques to prevent recurrence.


Breast abscess requires both the removal of pus and antibiotic therapy. Interventions can include aspiration of the pus using a needle which can be performed under local anaesthesia. Some abscess may require incision and drainage. 

It is imperative to see a specialist, who can help you to identify and treat any underlying coexistent causes of infection to facilitate resolution and prevent recurrence. It is also necessary to exclude breast carcinoma.

If you are experiencing symptoms of breast abscess or mastitis, make an appointment with our doctor today.

Dr Jesse Hu: Breast Specialist in Singapore

Dr Jesse Hu is a breast specialist and experienced breast surgeon in Singapore. With a commitment to excellence and a focus on patient well-being, Dr Jesse Hu brings her expertise to the field of breast health. Whether you're seeking preventive consultations or surgical solutions, trust in Dr Jesse Hu's expertise for compassionate care that prioritises your needs.

Dr Jesse Hu
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