A breast ulcer or breast abscess is a lump in the breast that contains pus. Breast abscesses are usually caused by infection. This disease is often experienced by breastfeeding mothers.
If you have a breast abscess, breastfeeding mothers need to get treatment immediately. But don't worry, people with breast abscesses can continue to breastfeed their children with uninfected breasts.
Causes of Breast Abscess
Inflammation of the breast tissue ( mastitis ) that is not treated immediately or caused by a blockage in the breast gland, is the main cause of accumulation of pus ( abscess ) in the breast.
Breast infections can occur for several reasons. One of them is the entry of bacteria from the baby's mouth into the milk ducts through cracks in the nipple. Although it is more common in breastfeeding mothers, non-breastfeeding women and a small percentage of men can develop a breast abscess as well.
There are several factors that increase a person's risk of developing a breast abscess, including:
- Having piercings in the nipples
- Have a smoking habit
- Suffering from diabetes
- Suffering from HIV/AIDS
- Have had breast surgery in the last 2 months
- Have you ever had a breast infection?
Signs and Symptoms of a Breast Abscess
A breast abscess is a lump under the skin that is soft to the touch and can be moved. However, these lumps cannot be palpated if the abscess grows deeper in the breast. Breast abscesses can also usually appear with ulcers in the breast .
Symptoms experienced by people with breast abscess can vary depending on the severity. If you have a breast abscess, a person may experience the following symptoms :
- Breasts look red, swollen, and feel
- If palpated, there are lumps that do not disappear after feeding.
- Discharge of pus from the nipple.
- Breast pain continues to interfere with activities.
- Breast pain causes the mother to be unable to breastfeed her child.
- Fever for more than 3 days and does not improve despite treatment.
A breast abscess is formed as a result of untreated mastitis. Therefore, nursing mothers need to be vigilant and immediately consult a doctor if they feel a lump in the breast, breast feels sore, swollen, and red.
A woman is also recommended to do breast self- examination ( BSE ) every 7 days after menstruation. This aims to find abnormalities in the breast early.
Routine breast examination also needs to be done clinically by a doctor. This examination is called SADANIS. A woman is recommended to do SADANIS regularly starting at the age of 20 years, every 1-3 years. After the age of 40 years, SADANIS needs to be done regularly at least once a year.
BSE and SADANIS are carried out as a form of anticipation and early examination of diseases of the breast, especially if there is a history of breast cancer in the family.
Breast Abscess Diagnosis
To diagnose a breast abscess, the doctor will perform a physical examination of the patient's breast. Next, the doctor will ask the patient to undergo a breast ultrasound ( ultrasound mammae ).
Ultrasound is used to check the depth and location of the infection in the breast, and determine whether the lump is mastitis, a breast abscess, or a tumor.
The doctor will also take a sample of breast milk or pus from the abscess using an injection, to then be examined in a laboratory. From these examinations, the doctor can determine the cause of the infection and determine the appropriate type of treatment.
In addition to ultrasound, imaging can also be done with mammograms and breast biopsies. This is only done if the patient with mastitis is a woman who is not breastfeeding. This test is done to ensure that the symptoms experienced by the patient are not cancer symptoms.
How to Treat Breast Abscess
To treat breast abscess in nursing mothers, the doctor will give antibiotics, such as cephalexin . Breastfeeding mothers can continue to breastfeed their children even if they use the drug. Cephalexin is taken for 10-14 days at a dose of 500 mg, every 6 hours.
Breast abscesses can also occur in women who are not breastfeeding. To overcome this, the doctor may give one of the following drugs:
- Clindamycin 300 mg, taken every 6 hours.
- Amoxicillin / clavulanate 500 mg, taken 3 times a day.
In addition to treatment with antibiotics, there are other procedures that can be done to treat a breast abscess, namely:
- Remove pus with a syringe.
- Drain the pus out with the help of a catheter.
- Overcoming breast abscess with a special procedure called vacuum assisted biopsy .
Meanwhile, pain due to a breast abscess is usually treated by taking paracetamol and compressing the breast with a towel that has been soaked in warm water or ice water.
In healing a breast abscess, patients who are breastfeeding need to keep removing milk every 2 hours from the affected breast. This is done to prevent further infection. However, the child should not breastfeed from the affected breast because of the risk of contracting the infection.
In addition, people with breast abscess also need to get enough rest, eat nutritious foods, drink more water, and manage stress well. These things are done to speed up the healing of a breast abscess.
Complications of Breast Abscess
There are several complications that can occur due to a breast abscess, including:
- Recurrent breast infections.
- The appearance of scars or scar tissue.
- Breast size shrinks so it looks unbalanced.
- Prolonged (chronic) breast abscess.
- Spread of infection to other areas of the body.
- The appearance of abnormal ducts in the breast.
- Abnormalities of the lymph channels that make swelling of the arm ( lymphedema )
Breast Abscess Prevention
Mastitis is one of the causes of breast abscess. There are several things that breastfeeding mothers can do to prevent mastitis , including:
- Always wash your hands before breastfeeding, to avoid the possibility of spreading bacteria.
- Breastfeed your child with the right position, and ensure that the nipple and the brown area around it (areola) adheres perfectly to the child's mouth.
- Breastfeed with both breasts alternately and do not use the same breastfeeding position continuously.
- Breastfeed regularly. Avoid long breaks between feedings.
- Wear a bra that is the right size and don't wear tight clothing.
- Do not use creams and ointments on the nipples.
- Do not use nipple pads in the long term.
- Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration.
In addition, routinely do BSE and SADANIS to detect abnormalities in your breasts early.
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