What is an Underarm Lump?
An underarm lump is defined as the enlargement of an axillary lymph node or maybe swollen under the arm which is clearly visible in some cases and in others it’s small and can only be felt by touching it. Lymph nodes are the small glands that plays an essential role to the immune system which is found everywhere in the body.
The role of lymph nodes is to fight and protect the body from bacteria and infections or even uncommon growths like cancer cells. There are over 600 lymph nodes found in total all over the body, but one of the body parts where they can be located and found swollen is most common in the armpits.
These swollen lymph nodes are also known as lymphadenitis and may occur mostly to children but can happen to anyone in any age group.
What are the symptoms of an Underarm Lump?
An enlarged lymph node usually means that some sort of illness is about to come or much worse, when dangerous cancer cells have already been visible. It is one of the serious health conditions that should be paid with great attention.
These are some symptoms associated with Armpit Lumps:
- Fever, body pains, coughs and runny nose
- Extreme tiredness for both physically and mentally
- Unanticipated appearance of a skin rash
- A swelling that is much alike with the other lymph nodes
- Skin discoloration and other evidence of unexplained loss of blood
- The feeling of losing an appetite without a reason
- Intense nausea or vomiting for the entire day
For the serious cases, a simple armpit lump could possibly be an indication of breast cancer or other infections of the breast. If the lump gets bigger, harder, sensitive, irregular in shape or reddish in color, then medical care is a must.
A few more signs and symptoms could be; the difficulty in breathing, seizures, gradual production of lymph nodes that are hard, sore lymph nodes that turned red already, shortness of breath, a very high fever above 100 degrees Fahrenheit, and sudden confusions or any other changes in the mind regarding consciousness.
What are the causes of Armpit Lumps?
Armpit lumps are mostly considered harmless and typically seen as the outcome of an abnormal growth of a tissue. Lymph nodes can either protect the body or can grasp cancerous tumour cells or bacteria. And so if they do, this will lead to a size increase of lymph nodes and could be felt easily.
The causes of lump under armpits could be due to cysts that usually begins with individuals who just started shaving, infection of the breast or arm and other body wide infections like herpes or HIV, allergic reaction, malignancy, irritation caused by shaving, antiperspirants excluding deodorants, viral infections, cancers of the breast, bone marrow or the lymphatic system, fibroadenoma, and autoimmune disorders. Other causes also comprise of; cat scratch disease wherein the area scratched or bitten by a cat is swollen afterwards, use of some medicines, and lipomas.
How can Armpit Lumps be treated?
Some underarm lumps are mild and could most likely heal by itself. The patient has to bear in mind that the lumps can be a very serious health problem and if an unusual lump is detected, it should be reported for proper diagnosis.
There are also home care remedies like; warm compresses and pain relievers to lessen the uncomfortable feeling and bought over-the counter.
However, it still depends on the reason for the armpit lump and a physician’s help is still needed to determine the cause. Armpit lumps can happen to both genders but for women, it is more frightening mainly because it might mean that a breast cancer is developed.
Best recommended for women is to perform self-breast exams every month and consult right away a physician if a lump is found. If the armpit lumps are caused by allergies, the person should avoid the ones that trigger it and start medications as advised so that the lump dies down eventually.
For bacterial infections that are caused by clogged pores when not taken cared of right away, will lead to a painful infection; this is treated with antibiotics for a number of days.
If the underarm lumps are found to be cancerous, the physician will then recommend to the person to go to a specialist for further care. The treatments may include surgery, radiation therapy, or chemotherapy varying on the type and stage of cancer.
For the best chance to recover, a timely diagnosis is very important and should not be missed. Remember to never ever try to diagnose the lumps by your own for a simple lump may have a big impact on a person’s life.
Egan RL. Priorities in managing breast problems: round table discussion. Patient Care. 1975; 9 (7):20–58.
Haagensen DC. Diseases of the breast. 2nd ed. Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders, 1971; 101.
Vorherr H. The Breast: Morphology, Physiology, and Lactation. New York: Academic Press, 1974; 20–70.