An armpit lump is usually due to enlargement of lymph node present in that region. Lymph nodes are small bean sized nodes present in clusters in many parts of the body, especially in the underarm, around the neck, in groin area, in abdomen etc. Lymph nodes are the part of body’s lymphatic system.
Just like arteries and veins, our body has lymphatic channel which carries transparent fluid called lymph. It plays an active role in immune system of the body. The lymph nodes act as filter against the dead germs, foreign body and atypical body cells.
Causes Of Lump In The Armpit
Here are some of the common causes for the formation of lump in your armpit:
- Most often a bacterial, viral or fungal infection is responsible for a lump in your armpit. Shaving underarm hairs, especially in young adults can damage and bruise the underarm skin. It gives an opportunity for the bacteria present on the skin surface to enter in the hair follicle and cause boil or an abscess. Often the lump is painful.
- Use of antiperspirants and deodorants can irritate your armpit skin producing small lumps in that region.
- Since the lymph fluid drains from breast and arms in the lymph nodes of your armpit any infection or inflammation in these areas can cause swelling of lymph nodes of the underarm.
- A hard lump in the armpit among women may be a cause of concern as it can be a symptom of breast cancer. The abnormal cancer cells are known to cause swelling or a lump in the armpit. It is for this reason, women should not neglect armpit lumps and consult the physician as soon as possible.
- You may notice an armpit lump after vaccination in children. Usually after few days it resolves of its own without any treatment.
- Certain viral infections such as HIV, herpes, infectious mononucleosis can also produce a lump in the armpits together with lumps in groin area.
- A soft lump that fluctuates and moves under the skin surface can be due to lipoma. Lipoma is non malignant growth of fatty tissue.
- Hodgkin’s lymphoma, leukemia etc. can also cause a lump in the underarm.
Treatment Options For Painful Lump In Armpit
Due to varied etiology, whenever a lump appears in your armpit, it is necessary for you to consult a physician no matter how small the lump is. The doctor will take a detailed history and check your armpits before diagnosing the cause.
- When the cause is an abscess or a boil, it may be necessary to incise and drain. However many times if the lump is small it may heal after taking antibiotics for few days.
- When malignancy is suspected by the doctors, they may search for its origin in other organs, and most common site is the breasts. A small tissue biopsy from the lymph gland may be advised in such circumstances.
- If it is due to a viral infection, the armpit lump may heal after few days without any specific treatment.
- When the boil in the underarm is hard and still requires time to ripe, you may apply warm water to that area several times to ripen it. After few days the boil becomes soft and drains easily.
- When the lump is due to an allergy, it will resolve after the triggering factor is removed, for instance antiperspirant or a deodorant.
- When the lump is a lipoma, it may not require any treatment unless it is large. The only treatment is surgical removal of the lump.