Is It Normal to Have a Boil on Your Breast?

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Skin boils are a common condition caused by an infected hair follicle. A skin boil, also known as a furuncle, presents as a swollen and painful red bump.

If bacteria infect a hair follicle on the breast, a breast boil can form. An improperly fitting bra with excessive rubbing, as well as sweating, can increase the chances of developing a breast boil.

This article will review the symptoms, causes, and treatment of breast boils.

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Symptoms of a Breast Boil

Symptoms of a breast boil can range from mild to severe. In the beginning stage, a breast boil may be mistaken for a pimple. However, with time the boil can become warm to the touch, red, and filled with pus. People with a weakened immune system may develop a deep infection resulting in an abscess. Breast boils are usually quite painful.

Hiradenitis suppurativa (HS) is a disease that is often misdiagnosed as an infected hair follicle or sweat gland. If left untreated HS can form deep, painful lumps that leak pungent-smelling liquid.

Breast Cancer

Any change in your breasts should be reported to your healthcare provider. Inflammatory breast cancer, for example, can mimic a skin infection. Always get checked before starting home remedies for a suspected breast infection.

Causes of a Boil on the Breast

Bacteria naturally live on the skin. If a break in the skin occurs, bacteria can travel down a hair follicle and colonize (reproduce and grow). The immune system sends white blood cells to the area to fight the bacterial infection. The combination of white blood cells and bacteria causes a fluid known as pus.

The inflamed tissue and pus create a painful, red bump. Sometimes the pus drains from the boil on its own, but other times it needs to be surgically drained.

Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) is the most common type of bacteria responsible for skin boils. When it becomes resistant to antibiotics it's called methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). This type of skin infection can be difficult to treat.

How to Get Rid of Breast Boils

Depending on the severity of the breast boil it may need to be treated by your healthcare provider. There are also home remedies that can alleviate the symptoms of a breast boil.

Medical Treatments

Medical treatments provided by your healthcare provider to cure a breast boil may include:

  • Topical ointment: Several antibiotic ointments and creams are available.
  • Antiseptic solution: Clean the affected area twice daily with a medicated soap or solution.
  • Oral antibiotics: These may be used in addition to topical ointments and solutions.
  • Surgical intervention: Draining the boil by making a small incision may be done in conjunction with the above interventions.

Home Remedies

Things you can do at home to help improve a painful breast boil are:

  • Applying warm compresses to the affected area
  • Using over-the-counter (OTC) antiseptic ointment
  • Keeping the site clean and covered with a bandage
  • Using acetaminophen or NSAIDs, such as Advil or Motrin (ibuprofen) and Aleve (naproxen), for comfort
  • Avoiding popping the boil, which can spread and worsen the infection
  • Wearing a comfortable bra with breathable material

How to Prevent a Boil on the Breast

To prevent a breast boil from forming, wear a correctly fitted bra made with breathable material. Keep the breasts clean and dry. Plucking or tweezing breast hair can cause ingrown hairs, which can become infected. Try cutting or using an electric razor instead.

Don't share personal items like razors or towels with others as bacteria can spread from one person to another. Wash your hands with antibacterial soap before and after touching the breast boil.

When to See a Healthcare Provider

If you develop any of the following symptoms, you should contact your healthcare provider:

  • Redness around the boil that is spreading to your chest
  • Fever or chills
  • Feel generally unwell
  • New boils that begin to appear
  • Boils that recur after healing

Summary

Breast boils occur when a hair follicle becomes infected by bacteria. The infection causes the area to become inflamed, red, and painful. Pus may leak from the boil or need to be surgically drained.

Wearing a well-fitted bra and keeping the breasts dry and clean can help prevent breast boils from forming. Never pop or squeeze a boil as it can spread infection. See your healthcare provider for any changes in your breasts.

A Word From Verywell

Having recurrent breast boils can affect your quality of life. Three or more bouts of infection in a 12-month period are considered to be recurrent and must be reported to your healthcare provider.

A wound culture will likely be ordered to help determine the bacteria responsible for the repeated boils. The results of the wound culture can help your healthcare provider choose the best antibiotic for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can you prevent breast boils?

    Although there are ways to decrease your risk of getting a breast boil, there is no certain way to prevent one from forming.

  • How do you know if a boil is serious?

    Having a breast boil accompanied by fever, chills, or feeling unwell could be signs of a serious infection requiring quick medical attention.

  • Will a breast boil pop on its own?

    A breast boil will often drain on its own. Never pop or squeeze a breast boil as that can spread infection. Call your healthcare provider if you have a breast boil that does not drain.

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5 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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