Subareolar and periareolar infections can occur under or around the nipple and areola due to a blockage forming in one or more ducts. These infections are directly linked to smoking, and it’s hard to get them to heal until a woman stops smoking.
The infection can present as:
- inflammation of the area, with or without a mass
- an abscess (collection of pus)
- subtle retraction (pulling inward) of the nipple
- a mammary duct fistula, which is an abnormal passage that joins the skin in the areolar region directly to a duct under the nipple (recurrent abscesses often occur before a fistula forms)
These infections are treated with antibiotics. If there is an abscess, it may need to be aspirated (drained with a needle) or your doctor may need to numb the breast and make a small incision to drain it. If the infection recurs repeatedly, your doctor may decide to remove all of the affected ducts.