Similar to abscesses that form in other areas of the body, a breast abscess can be very painful. They mainly affect women aged 18-50 and are common among those who are breastfeeding, as the nipples can become cracked, allowing bacteria to enter that can cause infection. The inflammation of the breast tissue – called mastitis – is the first stage in the development of an abscess, which has symptoms such as redness, tenderness, and painful localised swelling of the affected breast, which may also feel hot. The infection targets the fatty tissue of the breast, causing swelling just outside the milk ducts, which leads to more discomfort, such as itching, breast lump, green or pus-like nipple discharge, as well as the enlargement of the affected breast. Small abscesses can be drained with a syringe, but larger ones will require a small incision under local anaesthetic. Early treatment and a course of oral antibiotics is the best way to prevent an abscess from developing.
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