Abscess is an infected part of the tissue. Mastitis or breast inflammation develops when microbes penetrate the breast tissue through the nipple and infect the breast canals and glands (the condition is called breast abscess). By reproducing themselves, the microbes cause a red, sensitive swelling or lump in the breast. Glands in the armpit (near the infected breast) can also be sensitive to the touch. The patient may also have elevated temperature.
Mastitis is not a common illness; only one women out of 700 is treated from it annually. Two-thirds of cases are women who have recently given birth because the cracked nipple, a disorder that often occurs after childbirth, makes it easier for microbes to penetrate into the breast tissue. For certain reasons, mastitis is more common in women who do not breastfeed. However, it doesn’t matter if you breastfeed or not – if you notice an abscess, go to your doctor.
Regardless of the cause, the treatment is the same – i.e. antibiotic tablets for suppressing infection and possibly aspirin against pain and fever. Unless your doctor tells you otherwise, you can still breastfeed the baby with a ”diseased” breast. Sometimes you will need to massage your breast during breastfeeding to ”squeeze” all the milk from it.
In some cases the infection will not go away even if you take antibiotics, so you will have to stay in the hospital for a day or two for abscess drainage. At the edge of the areola (a circular area around the nipple) a small cut is made to allow the pus to drain from the abscess. This procedure leaves an unnoticeable scar. After the drainage, the antibiotics will quickly suppress the infection.