Engorgement, mastitis, or blocked ducts can occasionally lead to a breast abscess. This is unlikely if you continue to breastfeed your baby frequently during an episode of mastitis or when you have a blocked duct. An abscess is a pus-filled area, like a boil under the skin. Your healthcare provider will suspect an abscess if you have a lump which remains tender and does not go away with the suggested treatments for blocked ducts and mastitis. An ultrasound of the breast may be necessary to find out where the abscess is and how large it is. An abscess may require surgical drainage because the infection is contained within a capsule and antibiotic therapy may not be able to reach the infection. Before taking this option you may find it helpful to try some of the natural therapy treatments for breast abscess outlined in ‘Breastfeeding Help with Natural Therapies’.
In addition to the medical treatment recommended by your doctor, it’s important to continue to empty the breast with the abscess. Depending on the location and the extent of the abscess, you may or may not be able to breastfeed from the infected breast. Your healthcare provider can help you decide whether this will be possible. If you are temporarily unable to breastfeed on the breast with an abscess, use an electric breast pump to empty the breast and breastfeed your baby more frequently on the other breast. Many babies get by with only one breast.
It can also be very useful to apply moist heat to the affected area before breastfeeding or expressing to help the milk to flow more easily if you have a breast abscess.