Subareolar abscess is an abscess, or growth, on the areolar gland. The areolar gland is located in the breast under or below the areola (colored area around the nipple).
Subareolar abscess is caused by a blockage of the small glands or ducts below the skin of the areola. This blockage leads to infection of the glands.
This is an uncommon problem. It affects younger or middle-aged women who are not breastfeeding. Risk factors include:
Symptoms of an areolar abscess are:
Your health care provider will perform a breast exam. Sometimes an ultrasound or other imaging test of the breast is recommended. 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. 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.
The outlook is good after the abscess is drained.
Subareolar abscess may return until the affected gland is surgically removed. Any infection in a female who is not nursing has the potential to be a rare cancer. You may need to have a biopsy or other tests if standard treatment fails.
Contact your provider if you develop a painful lump under your nipple or areola. It is very important to have your provider evaluate any breast mass.
Reviewed By: Jonas DeMuro, MD, Assistant Professor of Surgery, Stony Brook School of Medicine, Stony Brook, NY. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.