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Skin-associated Infection (Cellulitis)

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Cellulitis is an infection of the skin and underlying tissue caused by bacteria. This condition usually affects the lower half of the breast where sweat and bacteria tend to build up. The skin becomes red, warm, and inflamed, and the rash tends to spread throughout the area. You also can develop flu-like symptoms such as a fever and chills. Risk factors include being overweight, having large breasts, and/or having previous breast surgery or radiation therapy.

Cellulitis is a fast-spreading infection that requires prompt treatment with antibiotics. If an abscess (collection of pus) forms, it has to be aspirated with a needle or drained through a local incision.

Strategies for preventing cellulitis of the breast include:

  • keeping the area as clean and dry as possible
  • washing and thoroughly drying the area twice a day
  • avoiding cream, lotions, and talcum powders in the area
  • wearing a cotton bra or vest or a cotton T-shirt under the bra

Women with large breasts who have recurrent cellulitis may find relief by having breast reduction surgery.

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