Swollen Lymph Nodes Under The Arm

Swollen Lymph Nodes Under The Arm : Causes, Symptoms, Treatment

Do you find swollen lymph nodes under the arm, which causes you distress? Then, you need to see a doctor to eliminate the possibility of serious issues. The problem also known as an armpit lump occurs due to the enlargement of the underarm lymph nodes. The size of the lump may vary from person to person. When the lumps have a small size, you tend to ignore it. Larger lumps can put you in distress as it becomes difficult to move your hands. The friction can cause more pain and agony. The underlying reason for the lumps may from something simple like irritation, infection or serious problems like cancer. Some lumps may fade away within a few days. It does not affect your health in any manner. But, if you observe lumps that becomes larger as the day progresses, then see your doctor.

What Are Swollen Lymph Nodes Under The Arm?

swollen lymph nodes under the arm

Lymph nodes are oval-shaped, small structures that you can find throughout your body. It is an important part of your immune system. You have around twenty lymph nodes under your armpit. You cannot feel the nodes present in the armpit area. It is due to the presence of sweat gland and hair follicles cover it. You can suffer from a different condition that can lead to the development of lumps. The problem can vary from simple to serious. The lymph nodes under your arm can swell due to serious conditions like cancer, which needs immediate medical attention. Read ahead to learn about the problem in detail and take the necessary step to manage it.

Causes Of Swollen Lymph Nodes Under The Arm

Swollen lymph nodes under the arm can develop due to any number of reasons. In most cases, the armpit lumps may not cause you any health problems. It is the result of abnormal tissue growth. So, it is harmless. But, some type of armpit lumps points towards a serious health problem. Therefore, when you see the lumps under your arm, get it evaluated by the doctor. The most common causes of armpit lumps are:


Bacteria, fungus or virus can trigger infection. It can lead to the formation of lumps or swelling in the lymph nodes under your arm.



It is the benign tumor that causes you no harm. It contains fat tissue, which makes it soft to touch. In most cases, you can move the lipoma. You never feel pain due to the fat tissue. So, it can occur in places like under your armpit.



It is the non-cancerous fibrous tissue growth observed in women. The benign condition of the breast can develop during puberty. The lump can move when you touch. It can also appear under the arm.

Hidradenitis Suppurativa

Hidradenitis Suppurativa

It is the skin condition that develops due to the blocking of pores near the sweat glands. It usually occurs around areas with hair follicles. So, it occurs in areas like armpit, groin, buttocks or breasts. It can cause abscesses as well as scarring of the skin.

Allergic reaction

Allergens can cause armpit lumps. It can also occur due to your body’s adverse reaction to certain vaccinations.


You can develop swollen lymph nodes under the arm due to the cancerous presence in your body. Certain types of cancers can result in the armpit lump like:

  • Cancer of blood cells (Leukemia)
  • Breast cancer
  • Cancer of the lymphatic system (Lymphoma)

Systemic Lupus

Systemic Lupus

SLE (Systematic Lupus Erythematosus) is an autoimmune disease. Also known as aslupus, which causes your immune system to target healthy organs and joints in your body. So, your immune system attacks your healthy tissue resulting in lumps.

Swollen Lymph Nodes In Women

The swollen lymph nodes under the arm can appear in men as well as women. But, women face a higher risk of the problem. In some cases, the armpit lump can indicate a serious problem like breast cancer. Some risk factor makes a common problem for women of all ages like:

Hormonal Changes

Hormone fluctuation can happen during the menstrual cycle. So, women tend to feel lumps around their breast and underarms. It is a normal occurrence, which needs no treatment. It goes away once your period finishes. If you suspect something serious, then perform the breast self-exams. It will help you identify any lumps on your breast. You need to consult your doctor once you find any lumps.

Clogging Of Hair Follicles

Women can find lumps in the breast and groin areas due to clogging of hair follicles. It can trigger inflammation and result in lumps. In most cases, the inflammation occurs near the apocrine glands. So, it results in painful lumps, which resembles a boil filled with pus. It can start leaking or gets infected. The condition is also referred to as Hidradenitis suppurativa, which is common in women compared to men.

Other Risk Factors

The risk factor that makes women more prone to the swollen lymph nodes under the arm are:

  • Smoking or tobacco use
  • Obesity
  • Family History
  • Family history
  • Strong reaction of the immune system

Diagnosing Swollen Lymph Nodes Under The Arm

When you observe the armpit lumps, you need to seek a doctor’s assistance. It is important to determine the underlying cause of the swelling. At times, serious health problems or complications can lead to the development of swollen lymph nodes under the arm. Therefore, you need to assess the seriousness of the problem. The following diagnostic methods can reveal the severity of the problem.

Physical Examination

A thorough evaluation of your body and the symptoms you observe is the first step to diagnose the seriousness of the armpit lump. You need to provide details about the pain or changes you observe in the lump. The physical assessment will provide an idea about the condition of the lump. Based on the assessment, your doctor can suggest further tests.


It is the physical examination, which involves determining the texture and consistency of the lump. Your doctor can use fingers or hands to examine the lymph nodes as well as the surrounding tissues under your arm. The examination can also reveal the tenderness you experience with the lump.


The physical examination can determine if the lump has a serious underlying condition or cannot pose any harm to your body. Non-cancerous lumps (like lipomas) need no additional treatment. But, if you feel bothered by the lumps, your doctor can develop a treatment plan to eliminate the distress.

Complete Blood Count Test

The doctor can suggest taking your blood sample and examining it in the lab. The lab technicians can measure the red blood cells, white blood cells, and numbers of platelets in your blood. It is the ideal test to detect infections. Some infections can trigger the swelling in the lymph nodes under the arm.



Women who observe swollen lymph nodes under the arm need to seek medical help as soon as possible. The armpits lumps may indicate the presence of breast cancer. Therefore, your doctor can suggest taking a mammogram (breast X-ray). It can provide a more detailed image of the lump. So, it helps with the cancer diagnosis.

Other Imaging Techniques

When a mammogram does not provide a satisfactory diagnosis, your doctor can turn to other imaging techniques. CT scans and MRI can offer a much clearer picture of the tumor. It also reveals the presence of other tumors around the region. It helps your doctor get details about the tumor size, growth rate, and type.


Your doctor can suggest for biopsy to check the cancerous presence. It involves removing a small piece of the tissue or the entire swollen lymph node under the arm for testing. It is assessed in the lab to check for malignant cells.

Allergy Testing

Allergy Testing

Allergy testing checks for the allergies that can lead to the development of underarm lump. It is the skin prick test, also known as a scratch test or puncture test.

Culture Of Fluid

The lump under the arm may contain fluid. So, your doctor can take the sample of fluid. The culture of the fluid sample from the underarm lump can detect the actual problem.

Treating Swollen Lymph Nodes Under The Arm

Your doctor can suggest an apt treatment plan based on the underlying health condition. So, depending on the issue causing the lumps, you need proper treatment. The treatment option available are:

Non-Dangerous Lumps

The armpits lumps can sometimes pose no danger to your health. Therefore, it does not require any specific treatment. Your doctor will observe the swollen lymph nodes under the arm and suggest apt treatment to overcome the problem. You may wonder about the types of lumps, which does not cause any harm. The following lumps will require no treatment;

  • Non-cancerous breast lumps (Fibroadenoma)
  • Viral infections
  • Lipomas

When your doctor diagnoses the lumps as harmless, then you can try some safe remedies to deal with the discomfort associated with the lumps. Therefore, you can try the following options:

  • A warm compress or heat packs are the best options to reduce the discomfort caused due to lumps.
  • You can use over-the-counter creams to provide you relief.
  • When you encounter immense pain, you can take pain relief medication like ibuprofen.

Hidradenitis Suppurativa (HS)

It is the skin condition, which causes painful, swollen lymph nodes under the arm. The long-term skin condition can lead to abscess development and scarring on your skin. It occurs in areas near hair follicles where you can find sweat glands. So, you can see it in areas like armpits, buttocks, breasts, or groin. The exact reason triggering the problem remains unclear. But, the lump caused by HS can cause immense discomfort. So, your doctor can suggest the following treatment options for HS:

  • Antibiotic Therapy

It is to kill the bacteria that trigger skin infection. You can undergo the therapy as per the suggestion of your doctor to get relief.

  • Blech bath

Blocked hair follicles can lead to the development of lumps under your armpits. So, the blech bath can unblock the hair follicles at home.

  • Biologic Therapy

The medication provided during the biologic therapy contains an engineered version of the human immune proteins. So, it can help overcome the armpit lumps.

  • Wound Dressings

The armpit lump can come in contact with your clothes and cause friction. It can lead to wound formation. Therefore, you need to dress the wound under the arm to prevent further problems.

  • Anti-acne therapy

It can reduce the bacterial presence on your skin, triggering the problem. Cleaning the surface of the skin with anti-acne cream can provide relief.

  • Surgical Treatment

At times, you need surgical intervention to eradicate the lump from under your arm. The invasive procedure can help remove the swollen lymph node under the arm. So, the small and minimal risk surgery can remove the lump without any complication.

  • Lifestyle Changes

Reducing your body weight can limit HS. Cutting down 10% of your body weight can reduce the occurrence of HS.

Treatment For Swollen Lymph Nodes Under The Arm Due To Allergy

People can get swelling under their arm due to allergies. So, when you eliminate the allergen, the lump associated with it clears itself. You need to take allergy medications to reduce the lump. After the lump subsides, you need to understand the triggers causing it. So, you can avoid the triggers to prevent the issue from affecting again.

Armpit Lumps Treatment For Bacterial Infections

To treat bacterial infections, your doctor can prescribe oral antibiotics. When you take the antibiotics as suggested by the doctor, the lump starts to disappear. The antibiotic can fight infection and clear it from the armpit within few days. If oral antibiotics fail, then you need hospitalization to take the antibiotics through an IV (intravenous).

Treating Cancerous Swollen Lymph Nodes Under The Arm

The biopsy can reveal the presence of cancerous cells in the lymph nodes under your arm. In case of cancerous lump, you need to seek a specialist doctor’s care to deal with the problem. Depending on the stage of cancer, your doctor can decide on a treatment plan. The ideal treatment plan can involve a combination of:

Cancerous swollen lymph nodes under the arm can cause fatal complications if you ignore it. Therefore, see your doctor when you observe a lump under your arm. With proper medical care, you can fight the disease.

Home Remedies To Manage Swollen Lymph Nodes Under The Arm

If your doctor has diagnosed the armpit lumps as non-dangerous, then you can take some steps to manage the pain and distress associated with the problem. The home treatment can reduce discomfort and prevent further flare-ups. So, the common ways to prevent it from affecting your life are:

Manage Pain And Swelling

The armpit lumps can swell and become painful to touch. It can cause immense distress. So, you can follow the pointer suggested to get relief from the pain and soreness:

  • To reduce muscle soreness, you can use an ice compress. Using a warm compress can also provide relief from pain and agony associated with the lumps.
  • The inflammation under the armpit can increase the pain. Therefore, you can take over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications. It reduces the pain and inflammation in the region.
  • Enhanced blood circulation can reduce the swelling under your armpit. Therefore, massage the area to ease the swelling.
  • If the skin condition triggers the problem, then you need to use medicated creams to avoid the pain. Topical steroid or anti-fungal creams can serve the purpose. It treats the underlying skin condition and helps manage the pain.

Prevent Dryness

The dryness of armpit lumps can worsen the existing condition. It can cause friction and lead to wounds. Therefore, it is important to prevent excessive dryness. It helps avoid other skin problems under your arm. Use products with moisturizing effect. Try to select products that contain hydrating properties like glycerin. It absorbs into the skin and prevents dryness. When you opt for products that leave a residue, it can clog the pores. It increases the sweating and worsens the existing condition.

Avoid Infection

The armpit region tends to sweat and accumulates dirt. It can clog the pores and cause skin problems. So, you need to keep the region clean to avoid infection or inflammation. Keeping the area clean and moisturized to prevent discomfort. You need to avoid going out in hot weather as it can lead to profuse sweating. The dirt and sweat can clog the pores and lead to lump formation. Never share your personal hygiene products or tools. It increases the chance of bacterial infections.

Dodge Allergens

The products you use for body care can contain allergens or irritants. It can trigger your allergies and lead to the swollen lymph nodes under the arm. Therefore, check the product ingredient list to avoid possible complications. Try to use fragrance-free products as it keeps your skin safe and does not trigger any problem.

Prevent Wounds

Try to take quick and short showers in lukewarm water. Using hot water to bathe or drawn-out sessions in hot water can strip the skin of moisture. It can lead to skin friction and subsequent wounds. Therefore, restrict your use of hot water on the skin. When you experience armpit lumps, use loose-fitting clothes. It avoids chafing and the possibility of skin cuts. Try not to shave, especially using a razor. It increases the chance of irritation, nicks, and cuts.


The outlook for the swollen lymph nodes under the arm depends on the underlying cause. Simple issues like infections or allergies can eventually go away after some days with proper care. Certain lumps may not require any medical attention. At times, surgical intervention is necessary to remove the lump and prevent any distress. The non-cancerous lumps may not trigger health problems. But, develops uneasiness and other problem. So, small invasive procedures can help deal with the problem. Cancerous lymph nodes need immediate treatment. With a faster diagnosis, you can manage the problem before triggering complications. If you observe lumps under your arm, then see your doctor for accurate diagnosis and treatment. It will help you deal with the problem properly. You can experience peace of mind after the professional diagnosis. So, never ignore the lumps and seek medical help at the right time.

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