A subareolar abscess is an abscess or growth on the areolar gland, which is located in the breast under or below the areola (colored area around nipple).
Abscess - areolar gland; Areolar gland abscess
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 breastfeeding. There are no known risk factors.
Exams and Tests
The health care provider will perform a breast exam. An ultrasound examination of the breast may be recommended in some cases.
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). However, if the abscess returns, the affected glands should be surgically removed.
Prognosis is good after surgical treatment.
Subareolar abscesses tend to recur until the affected glands are surgically removed.
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Contact your health care provider if you develop a painful lump under the nipple or areola.
Iglehart JD. Smith BL. Diseases of the breast. In: Townsend CM, Beauchamp RD, Evers BM, Mattox KL, eds. Sabiston Textbook of Surgery. 18th ed.Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2008:chap 34.
Lester SC. The breast. In: Kumar V, Abbas AK, Fausto N, eds. Robbins and Cotran Pathologic Basis of Disease. 7th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2005:chap 23.
Reviewed By: Linda Vorvick, MD, Seattle Site Coordinator, Lecturer, Pathophysiology, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington School of Medicine; and Susan Storck, MD, FACOG, Chief, Eastside Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Group Health Cooperative of Puget Sound, Redmond, Washington; Clinical Teaching Faculty, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.