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Breast cellulitis and other skin disorders of the breast

J Michael Dixon, MD
Larry M Baddour, MD, FIDSA, FAHA
Section Editors
Anees B Chagpar, MD, MSc, MA, MPH, MBA, FACS, FRCS(C)
Daniel J Sexton, MD
Deputy Editor
Elinor L Baron, MD, DTMH


Breast cellulitis is a skin infection that occurs as a result of bacterial entry via breaches in the skin barrier. Issues related to breast cellulitis and other skin disorders of the breast will be reviewed here. Issues related to breast abscess and lactational mastitis are discussed separately, as are issues related to breast reconstruction. (See "Primary breast abscess" and "Lactational mastitis" and "Overview of breast reconstruction".)


Epidemiology — Breast cellulitis is relatively uncommon. A prospective study including 3762 patients evaluated in a dedicated breast center during a 14-month interval found that 0.6 percent presented with erythema of the breast and, of those 22 patients, only 2 had cellulitis [1]. Among patients managed for breast cancer with breast-conserving surgery and radiation therapy, breast cellulitis occurs in 1 to 8 percent of patients [2-7].

Risk factors for breast cellulitis include [1-5,7-9]:

Breast conservation treatment for breast cancer (breast conserving surgery and radiation therapy)

Prior breast cellulitis or infection

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Literature review current through: Nov 2017. | This topic last updated: Jun 20, 2017.
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