A lump in the armpit can be quite daunting for some people. The growth of an armpit lump can indicate a few different things. Lymph nodes are tiny, oval shaped lumps that are present under your arm and throughout your body.
They assist with managing the functioning of your immune system. There is concern, however, when these lymph nodes start to grow in size.
The growth may simply be an infection from using deodorant; it could also be the result of an allergic reaction, or irritation from shaving or cysts. But there are occasions when a lymph node can mean something much more serious, such as cancer.
Causes of a Lump In the Armpit
As we mentioned, there are several conditions that may lead to armpit lumps. Most of the causes are harmless, but if the armpit lump becomes larger and doesn’t go away, or if you don’t feel any pain in armpit when touching the lump, then it’s important to have it checked out by a medical professional.
A lump in the armpit can have many causes, including:
- Bodily infections (e.g. mono or herpes)
- Viral, fungal or bacterial infections
- Reaction to vaccines or medications
- Cancers (i.e. lymphoma, leukemia, or breast cancer)
- Abscesses under the skin
A thorough examination by a doctor should provide you with an accurate diagnosis of the cause of your armpit lump.
What Armpit Lumps in Women Indicate
Armpit lumps can appear in both men and women. For women, a lump under the arm might indicate breast cancer. It is advised that women conduct monthly checks for lumps or growths on their bodies; preferably a few days after the menstrual cycle since non-cancerous lumps can sometimes appear during the menstrual cycle.
Recognizing Armpit Lumps
The first line of defense to treating an armpit lump is to recognize it. Being aware of your body and knowing when something doesn’t feel right is important. If you feel a lump under your armpit that wasn’t there a day before, then take that as a sign. That lump needs to be monitored daily.
If the lump doesn’t go away, or if it is growing, it is imperative to see a doctor for a full body examination. At this point your doctor will be able to have a better idea as to whether or not the lump requires treatment.
As previously mentioned, a lymph node can be harmless, but your doctor may also recommend to either have the lump removed or to send you for further testing. Testing could include an allergy test, a biopsy, or a mammogram.
Treating Lumps in the Armpit
Treatment for your armpit lump depends on the cause:
- Oral antibiotics: If the lump is the result of allergies or a bacterial infection, your doctor may prescribe oral antibiotics to make it go away within a few days.
- Treat the source of the allergy: If your lump is associated with allergies, it should disappear once you treat the source of the allergy.
- Home remedies: Try placing a warm compress over the lump to help ease discomfort—this is especially helpful for non-cancerous lumps. If your armpit lump is cancerous, treatment will likely involve surgery, chemotherapy and radiation.
When to See a Doctor
Armpit lumps may initially seem insignificant, but they can in fact be cancerous and require immediate medical attention.
Call your physician if you notice an unexplained armpit lump. Your doctor will gently touch the lumps and ask you a few questions about your current state of health and medical history to determine the cause. Questions you may be asked include:
- How long has the lump been present?
- Are you pregnant?
- Do you use antiperspirant?
- Does the lump hurt when it is touched?
Don’t attempt to self-diagnose the causes, speak to your doctor first about your concerns.
Source for Today’s Article:
Moore, K., “Armpit Lump,” Healthline web site; http://www.healthline.com/health/armpit-lump#Causes2, last accessed January 6, 2016.
“Armpit lump,” U.S. National Library of Medicine web site; https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003099.htm, last accessed January 6, 2016.