Breast Abscess: Types, Causes, Symptoms, and Natural Remedies 

Breast abscess is a painful condition characterized by the formation of a localized collection of pus within the breast tissue. It can occur in women of all ages, but it is more common among those who are breastfeeding. If left untreated, a breast abscess can lead to serious complications. In this article, we will explore the causes, symptoms, possible illnesses, and natural remedies to treat breast abscess at home

Types of Breast Abscess 

Breast abscess is a painful condition that can manifest in different forms, each with its own characteristics. Understanding the types of breast abscess can help individuals recognize and address the condition effectively. In this section, we will explore the various types of breast abscess, shedding light on their unique features. 

1. Lactational Breast Abscess 

Lactational breast abscess is the most common type and typically occurs in breastfeeding women. It develops due to the blockage of milk ducts, which can lead to the accumulation of milk and subsequent infection. Lactational breast abscesses often arise from mastitis, an infection of the breast tissue, and can cause severe pain and discomfort. 

2. Non-Lactational Breast Abscess 

Non-lactational breast abscesses, also known as nonpuerperal breast abscesses, occur in women who are not breastfeeding. These abscesses usually result from the obstruction of mammary ducts or underlying infections. Non-lactational breast abscesses can affect women of any age and are often associated with conditions such as diabetes, nipple piercings, or weakened immune systems. 

3. Recurrent Breast Abscess 

Some individuals may experience recurrent breast abscesses, which involve the repeated occurrence of abscesses in the breast. Recurrent breast abscesses can be frustrating and require thorough evaluation to identify the underlying cause. Potential causes may include ongoing infection, an underlying medical condition, or anatomic abnormalities within the breast. 

4. Subareolar Breast Abscess 

Subareolar breast abscesses develop beneath the areola, the pigmented area surrounding the nipple. These abscesses are often associated with nipple duct infections and can result in tenderness, swelling, and discharge from the nipple. Subareolar breast abscesses are more common in younger women and can sometimes be mistaken for an infected nipple piercing. 

5. Inflammatory Breast Abscess 

Inflammatory breast abscesses are rare but can be more severe and require prompt medical attention. This aggressive form of breast abscess is characterized by inflammation, redness, and warmth in the affected breast. Inflammatory breast abscesses can be challenging to differentiate from inflammatory breast cancer, a serious condition that requires immediate medical intervention. 

Understanding the different types of breast abscesses is essential for timely diagnosis and appropriate treatment. If you suspect a breast abscess or experience symptoms, it is crucial to consult with a healthcare professional for an accurate evaluation and personalized care plan. 

Causes of Breast Abscess 

Breast abscesses can be attributed to several factors that trigger their development. By understanding the causes, you can take necessary steps to prevent and address this painful condition effectively. 

  • Bacterial Infection: The primary cause of breast abscesses is a bacterial infection. Bacteria can enter the breast tissue through cracked or sore nipples, especially during breastfeeding. This occurs when bacteria from the baby’s mouth or skin infiltrate the breast. 
  • Blocked Milk Ducts: When milk ducts become obstructed, it creates an ideal environment for bacterial growth and abscess formation. Milk duct blockages can result from incomplete milk drainage or inadequate breastfeeding techniques. 
  • Nipple Piercings: Women with nipple piercings have an increased risk of developing breast abscesses. The piercing creates an opening in the nipple, allowing bacteria to enter the breast tissue more easily. 
  • Weakened Immune System: A compromised immune system can make you more susceptible to infections, including breast abscesses. Conditions such as diabetes, HIV/AIDS, or ongoing immunosuppressive treatments can weaken your body’s ability to fight off bacteria. 

By identifying these causes, you can take proactive measures to minimize your risk of developing breast abscesses.  

Symptoms of Breast Abscess 

Breast abscesses exhibit several distinct symptoms that can help in early recognition and prompt treatment. Being aware of these symptoms is crucial for seeking timely medical intervention. The following are the key signs to watch out for: 

  • Pain and Tenderness: The affected breast becomes tender and painful to touch, often accompanied by a throbbing sensation. 
  • Swelling and Redness: The breast may show noticeable swelling and appear redder than usual due to inflammation. 
  • Warmth and Heaviness: The breast feels warm to the touch and may give a sensation of heaviness or fullness. 
  • Lump or Mass: A firm lump or mass develops within the breast, which can be felt during self-examination. 
  • Fever and Chills: A breast abscess often causes systemic symptoms like fever and chills, indicating an infection. 
  • Nipple Discharge: Pus-like or bloody discharge may be present from the nipple, indicating an underlying abscess. 

Being vigilant about these symptoms and seeking prompt medical attention can facilitate early diagnosis and appropriate treatment for breast abscess.  

Possible Illnesses Associated with Breast Abscess 

Breast abscesses, though primarily caused by bacterial infections, can be associated with several other medical conditions. These conditions, while not directly related to breast cancer, should be considered in order to rule out any underlying illnesses. Prompt medical attention is crucial for accurate diagnosis and effective treatment. Here are some potential illnesses associated with breast abscess: 

1. Mastitis: An Infection of the Breast Tissue 

Mastitis, a common infection among breastfeeding women, often leads to the formation of a breast abscess. This condition occurs when bacteria enter the breast tissue through cracked or sore nipples. Prompt treatment is necessary to prevent the abscess from worsening and to ensure successful recovery. 

2. Breast Cancer: Detecting Potential Malignancy 

Breast abscesses are not directly linked to breast cancer. However, persistent or recurrent abscesses warrant evaluation by a healthcare professional to rule out the presence of breast malignancy. Timely detection is crucial in ensuring appropriate management and preventing further complications. 

3. Inflammatory Breast Cancer: Mimicking Abscess Symptoms 

Inflammatory breast cancer, a rare and aggressive form of breast cancer, can mimic the symptoms of a breast abscess. It is essential to seek prompt medical attention for accurate diagnosis and immediate treatment. Early detection significantly improves the chances of successful outcomes. 

By considering these potential illnesses associated with breast abscess, healthcare professionals can provide comprehensive care and necessary interventions. Timely diagnosis and appropriate treatment play a vital role in managing breast abscesses effectively. 

Natural Remedies to Treat Breast Abscess at Home 

Breast abscess is a painful condition characterized by the formation of a localized collection of pus within the breast tissue. It commonly affects breastfeeding women and can lead to serious complications if left untreated. In this section, we will explore effective natural remedies to treat breast abscess at home, providing relief from symptoms and aiding in the healing process. 

Warm Compresses 

Using warm compresses can provide soothing relief and promote the drainage of pus. Take a clean cloth, soak it in warm water, and gently apply it to the affected breast. Repeat this process for 10-15 minutes several times a day. 


Echinacea is an herbal remedy known for its immune-boosting properties. It may help in fighting off the infection causing the abscess. You can consume Echinacea supplements or drink Echinacea tea as directed by a healthcare professional. 


Garlic possesses potent antimicrobial properties that can help combat infection. Crush a few garlic cloves and directly apply the paste to the abscess. Cover it with a clean cloth and leave it on for 20-30 minutes before rinsing off. 


Calendula ointment or cream can be applied topically to the abscess to reduce inflammation and promote healing. Follow the instructions provided on the product label for proper usage. 

Tea Tree Oil 

Tea tree oil has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. Dilute a few drops of tea tree oil with a carrier oil, such as coconut oil, and apply it to the abscess. Leave it on for a few hours before rinsing off. 

Seek Medical Advice 

While these natural remedies can provide relief, it is crucial to seek professional medical advice for accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment. Natural remedies should be used in conjunction with medical treatment and under the guidance of a healthcare professional.  

Treatment Options 

Breast abscesses require prompt medical treatment to prevent complications and promote healing. Here are some effective treatment options for breast abscess: 

1. Antibiotics 

  • Antibiotics are commonly prescribed to treat bacterial infections associated with breast abscess. They help eliminate the bacteria causing the infection and reduce inflammation. 

2. Incision and Drainage 

  • In some cases, a healthcare professional may perform a minor surgical procedure to drain the abscess. This involves making a small incision to release the accumulated pus, providing relief from pain and promoting faster healing. 

3. Pain Relief Medication 

  • Pain relievers, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, can be used to manage the pain and discomfort associated with breast abscess. Follow the recommended dosage provided by your healthcare provider. 

4. Breastfeeding Techniques 

  • If you are breastfeeding, it is crucial to continue breastfeeding or expressing milk to prevent milk accumulation and promote drainage. A lactation consultant can provide guidance on proper breastfeeding techniques to avoid further complications. 

5. Supportive Measures 

  • Applying warm compresses to the affected breast can help reduce pain and aid in the drainage of pus. Ensure that the compress is not too hot to avoid burns. Additionally, wearing a well-fitting, supportive bra can help alleviate discomfort. 

6. Follow-up Care 

  • After initial treatment, it is important to follow up with your healthcare provider for regular check-ups and evaluation of the healing process. They can assess your condition, adjust the treatment plan if necessary, and ensure proper recovery. 

Remember, timely medical intervention is crucial for the effective treatment of breast abscesses. It is essential to consult with a healthcare professional to determine the most appropriate treatment approach for your specific condition. 

Lifestyle Modifications 

Maintain Proper Breast Hygiene 

Ensuring proper breast hygiene is crucial in preventing and managing breast abscess. Follow these tips: 

  • Cleanse Gently: Cleanse the affected breast area gently with mild, fragrance-free soap and warm water. Avoid harsh scrubbing or vigorous rubbing, as it can aggravate the condition. 
  • Wear Breathable Fabrics: Opt for loose-fitting clothing made from natural fibers like cotton. Breathable fabrics can prevent excessive moisture buildup, which can contribute to bacterial growth. 
  • Use Breast Pads: If you are breastfeeding, use disposable or washable breast pads to absorb excess milk and prevent leakage. Change the breast pads frequently to maintain dryness and minimize the risk of infection. 

Practice Proper Breastfeeding Techniques 

If you are breastfeeding and have a breast abscess, it’s important to practice proper breastfeeding techniques to reduce the risk of infection and promote healing: 

  • Ensure Correct Latch: Ensure that your baby latches onto the breast correctly to prevent nipple damage and potential entry points for bacteria. Seek guidance from a lactation consultant if needed. 
  • Empty the Breast: Make sure to completely empty the affected breast during each feeding or pumping session. This helps prevent milk stasis and reduces the risk of blocked milk ducts, which can contribute to the development of abscesses. 
  • Alternate Breastfeeding Positions: Vary your breastfeeding positions to ensure effective milk drainage from all areas of the breast. Different positions can help prevent milk duct blockages and alleviate pressure on the abscess. 

*Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is for informational purposes only and should not be considered as medical advice. It is important to consult with a qualified healthcare professional for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan. Natural remedies should be used under the guidance of a healthcare professional and in conjunction with prescribed medical treatment. 

Author Contribution: Reviewed by Dr. Ram Reddy, MD – General Physician,  Dr. Sadiq Mohammed, MD – Orthopedics, and Rajeshwar Rao, Pharm D.

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