Swollen, tender lump beneath areolar area (colored area around nipple)
Signs and tests
The health care provider will perform a breast exam. An ultrasound of other imaging test of the breast is recommended in some cases. A blood count and a culture of the abscess, if drained, may be ordered.
Subareolar abscesses are treated with antibiotics and by opening and draining the infected tissue. This can be done in a doctor's office with local numbing medicine (anesthesic). If the abscess returns, the affected glands should be surgically removed. The abscess can also be drained using a sterile needle. This is often done under ultrasound guidance.
Prognosis is good after the abscess is drained.
Subareolar abscess may return until the affected gland is surgically removed.
Calling your health care provider
Contact your health care provider if you develop a painful lump under the nipple or areola.
Hunt KK, Green MC, Buccholz TA. Diseases of the breast. In: Townsend CM, Beauchamp RD, Evers BM, Mattox KL, eds. Sabiston Textbook of Surgery. 19th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2012:chap 36.
Gollapalli V, Liao J, Dudakovic A, Sugg SL, Scott-Conner CEH, Weigel RJ. Risk factors for development and recurrence of primary breast abscesses. J Am Coll Surg. 2010;211:41-48.
Susan Storck, MD, FACOG, Chief, Eastside Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Group Health Cooperative of Puget Sound, Bellevue, Washington; Clinical Teaching Faculty, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, David R. Eltz, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.