Boils are also referred to as skin abscess and can occur on any part of the skin. Although they tend to occur in places with moisture and a lot of friction, however they may also appear on the breasts of women. This mostly happens in case of lactating women.
An abscess is a pus-filled pocket beneath the skin. This results from a bacterial infection, most of which are brought about by Staphylococcus Aurous. Hence this infection is also referred to as staph infection.
A breast boil is quite similar to the boils which occur in the other parts of the human skin. The body also reacts in the similar way and sends the white blood cells to kill the bacteria present in the boil area.
Lactating women face this problem of breast boils due to a blockage in the flow of milk in the breasts which has been left unattended. The bacteria also get a chance to enter the tissues in the breast area through a minor cut or severe rash. The staph bacteria can also get into the skin through any break in the nipple, as during the breast-feeding activity. This starts an infection which may form a boil eventually.
The age group of 18-50 amongst women is prone to the problem of breast boils.
The symptoms of breast boils are red and inflamed skin along with a swelling in the breast. A lump which gets formed as a result of a breast boils or abscesses if generally soft, round and tender.
Another breast problem referred to as Mastitis is used often to describe the breast boils or breast abscess. However there is a significant difference between the two conditions. The former refers to an inflammation in the breast which may have been caused by other factors also besides the staph bacteria.
Mastitis, engorgement or a blocked duct can trigger a breast boil. If the boils are non-malignant then they tend to get cured easily. However, if they do not respond to the treatment given to plugged ducts and mastitis, then the doctor would try to inspect it further.
In case a breast boil is deep-seated then the doctor would do an ultra sound of the breast to scrutinize it better.
Along with the medical treatment it is also essential for the infected women to empty her breasts. Sometimes breast-feeding becomes difficult due to the boil. To tackle this situation one must use an electric breast pump to empty the breast. A warm compress is essential to the boil area before nursing the baby or artificial pumping to help the milk flow easily.
If breast boils occur in non-lactating women then the doctor may conduct a mammogram and a biopsy for a complete check-up.
The problem of breast boils begins with an inflammation and tenderness of the breast.
The infection leads to the discharge of pus from the nipples. Due to the struggle which goes on between the bacteria and the white blood cells, some of the breast tissues die. Pus is found in the area due to the presence of white blood cells and the resultant boil is surrounded by a lump-like hardened and inflamed tissue. Treatment of minor breast boils is done with lancing or draining of the boil to remove the pus. Local anesthesia is used to numb the area and an ultra-sound may be required sometimes to direct the needle which is used for the pus drainage.
In case of a large breast boil, a minor incision has to be made on the skin to drain the pus from the boil.
It is to be noted that during the earlier stage of breast boils, namely the mastitis stage, medical intervention is perhaps indispensable to avoid inconvenience to both the lactating mother as well as the infant.
Antibiotics like cephalosporins or eryrthromycin are used to control the infection in the initial stages. This can prevent the infection from aggravating further by developing a boil.