Breast abscess

If mastitis is not treated, or if it does not respond to treatment, it can lead to a breast abscess, which may need an operation to drain it.

This can also develop if the mastitis doesn’t respond to frequent feeding plus a course of antibiotics.

You can carry on breastfeeding after an abscess has been drained.

Causes of breast abscesses

A breast abscess can form if you have a breast infection (called mastitis) and it’s not treated quickly.

Mastitis most often affects breastfeeding women. It can also happen in women who are not breastfeeding, but this is less common.

Getting treatment for mastitis as soon as possible can help reduce the risk of getting an abscess.

Treatment in hospital

You’ll have an ultrasound scan of your breast to check for an abscess.

The pus can be drained from an abscess with either:

  • A needle – this might need to be done a few times, and you may have to go back to hospital each time
  • A small cut in your skin

Your skin will be numbed before this is done. You can usually go home the same day and may be given antibiotics to take at home.

The abscess should heal completely in a few days or weeks.