Breast infection : Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors

Definition

A breast infection is an infection in the tissue of the breast.

Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors

Breast infections are usually caused by a common bacteria (Staphylococcus aureus) found on normal skin. The bacteria enter through a break or crack in the skin, usually on the nipple.

The infection takes place in the fatty tissue of the breast and causes swelling. This swelling pushes on the milk ducts. The result is pain and lumps in the infected breast.

Breast infections usually occur in women who are breast-feeding. Breast infections that are not related to breast-feeding might be a rare form of breast cancer.

Pictures & Images

Female breast

The female breast is either of two mammary glands (organs of milk secretion) on the chest.

Breast infection

Breast infection

Most breast infections occur in breastfeeding women when bacteria enters the breast through cracks in the nipple. In severe infections, abscesses may occur. Antibiotics may be indicated for treatment.

Normal female breast anatomy

Normal female breast anatomy

The female breast is composed mainly of fatty tissue interspersed with fibrous or connective tissue. The circular region around the nipple is often a different color or pigmented. This region is called the areola.


Review Date : 11/1/2009
Reviewed By : Linda Vorvick, MD, Medical Director, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington School of Medicine; Susan Storck, MD, FACOG, Chief, Eastside Department of of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Group Health Cooperative of Puget Sound, Redmond, WA, Clinical Teaching Faculty, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

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