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What Are the Common Causes of Pus in the Breast?

Nicole Madison
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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When a person has pus in the breast, it generally has one basic cause: the lumping together of bacteria, dead skin cells, and white blood cells. Pus usually forms when the body is fighting some type of infection and can affect any part of the body. When it affects the breast, however, the pus often develops because of an infection in the breast tissue that causes an abscess or because of a boil on the breast's skin. Treatment of pus in the breast often includes drainage of the affected area, antibiotics to fight the infection, hot compresses, and over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers.

One of the common causes of pus in the breast is an infection. When a person has an infection in the breast, an abscess may form, which is a mass that often causes some discomfort and is filled with pus. A breast infection doesn't always cause the development of an abscess, but when one does form, it often means the infection is a bit more serious. For example, a person may develop this type of issue when she has an infection and did not get treatment for it right away. Once an infection has progressed to this point, it is often necessary to use a sterile needle or an incision to drain the pus from the breast.

Another common cause of pus in the breast is a boil, which usually develops as a result of a skin infection. The boil starts out as an area of skin that is inflamed and sore but eventually becomes harder. It doesn't stay hard, however — it slowly grows softer and the boil fills with pus. The boil then forms a bump in which the presence of the pus is evident. Boils may eventually begin to drain on their own, or a doctor can open them surgically instead.

Though a doctor can often drain pus from the breast, whether it is in the form of an abscess or a boil, other treatment may prove necessary as well. In many cases, doctors also prescribe antibiotics to treat the infection that caused the pus in the breast. Additionally, hot compresses may help the body fight the bacteria that caused the problem by improving the circulation of blood to the area. OTC pain medications may also help to keep a patient more comfortable and possibly reduce some of the inflammation in the affected area.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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Nicole Madison
By Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison's love for learning inspires her work as a The Health Board writer, where she focuses on topics like homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. Her passion for knowledge is evident in the well-researched and informative articles she authors. As a mother of four, Nicole balances work with quality family time activities such as reading, camping, and beach trips.
Discussion Comments
By anon355727 — On Nov 19, 2013

Plenty of pus is seen occasionally in gram positive cocci seen in clusters in the breast. What is the solution for that? Is it treatable with medicine or does it require surgery?

By donasmrs — On Apr 15, 2013

@ddljohn-- Is it on top of your breast? Does it cover the whole breast or just the nipple? Is the skin red, does it look inflamed?

If it's an abscess, it will be red, slightly raised and inflamed. This is a sign of an infection even if you don't have other symptoms. You need to see your doctor right away so that you can take antibiotics and treat the infection, you don't want it to spread.

If the pus is coming from the nipple, you may also be confusing breast milk with pus, especially if the pus doesn't have a foul odor. There is a condition which causes production of breast milk even when there is no pregnancy.

Your doctor is the only one who can diagnose and treat it, so please do make an appointment soon.

By ddljohn — On Apr 15, 2013

I have recurrent breast abscesses but I don't feel sick and I don't have symptoms of an infection like fever. Could it be breast cancer?

By SteamLouis — On Apr 14, 2013

I have cystic acne. I don't get this all the time, but once in a while when I'm having a severe breakout, I will develop a cyst on top of my breast. It fills with pus, pops and eventually crusts over like the rest.

I've never worried about it because I know it has nothing to do with my breast. It's on top of the skin, it's a skin infection.

Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison's love for learning inspires her work as a The Health Board writer, where she focuses on topics like...
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