Subareolar abscess

Alternative names
Abscess - areolar gland; Areolar gland abscess

Definition
A subareolar abscess is an abscess or growth on the areolar gland, which is located underneath or beneath the areola (the circular area of darker pigmentation around the nipple) of the breast.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

The cause of a subareolar abscess is a blockage of the small glands or ducts under the areola, with development of an infection under the skin.

This is an uncommon problem that affects younger or middle-aged women who are not breast-feeding, unlike most types of infections in the breast. There are no known risk factors.

Symptoms

     
  • Tender lump beneath areolar area (colored area around nipple)  
  • Local swelling  
  • Drainage, pus (possible)  
  • Fever  
  • Malaise

Signs and tests

The health care provider will perform a breast exam. An ultrasound examination of the breast may be recommended in some cases.

Treatment

Subareolar abscesses are treated with antibiotics and by opening and draining the infected tissue. This can be done in a physician’s office with local anesthesia. However, if the abscess recurs, the affected glands should be surgically removed.

Expectations (prognosis)

Prognosis is good after surgical treatment.

Complications

Subareolar abscesses tend to recur until the affected glands are surgically removed.

Calling your health care provider

Contact your health care provider if you develop a painful lump under the nipple or areola.

Johns Hopkins patient information

Last revised: December 4, 2012
by Harutyun Medina, M.D.

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