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Finding a lump anywhere on your body can be a huge stressor for anyone, regardless of age, gender, or ethnicity. The last thing that any of us want to find is a lump on our body that we cannot explain. Armpit lumps are usually down to an enlarged lymph node. Lymph nodes are found all throughout the body and play a huge roll in the upkeep of your immune system. This is why the glands in your neck swell when your body is fighting off a cold. Here are a few of the causes, symptoms, and treatments to help ease your mind.

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What are some of the causes of armpit lumps?

Armpit lumps can be caused by anything from a blocked hair follicle from shaving to a cyst. In the worst case scenario, the lump could signify an underlying problem or ailment, but the body gains lumps and bumps all the time as it ages and they will usually turn out to be harmless. It is generally a good idea to have any unusual lumps that appear on your body checked over by a medical professional. Your own peace of mind can be an essential tool in boosting your immune system! Let's examine some of the more common causes of unwanted armpit lumps.

What are some of the causes of armpit lumps?
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Blocked hair follicles

The unattractive medical term for a blocked hair follicle is a furuncle, which is simply another word for the ordinary boil. Boils are bacterial or fungal infections of individual hair follicles that can form in the armpit after shaving. These boils can be caused by ingrown hairs or irritation from the act of shaving itself. Sometimes sweat glands can become clogged due to certain skin conditions such as acne and can go on to form a boil. This happens a lot in the armpit region because of its proximity to the sweat glands. Sweat glands becoming blocked has nothing to do with the state of your personal hygiene. Acne-prone skin can change over time due to hormones and hormones are forever changing themselves.

Blocked hair follicles
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Lipomas

A lipoma is a benign lump of fatty tissue that grows close to the surface of your skin. While they are sometimes classified as benign tumors, lipomas are not cancerous. Lipomas don't discriminate and can appear on the body of a person of any age on any part of the body, but typically show on the back, neck, and shoulders of adults between the ages of 40 and 60. The cause of lipomas is still unknown, but your chances of developing one in your life increase if lipomas have shown up in your family history. If your armpit lump feels soft to the touch and can easily be moved without feeling full of fluid as a cyst would, then it likely is a lipoma.

Lipomas
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Breast cancer response

Please bear in mind that cancers of any kind are rare. There are many health avenues to explore before going down this road, but it is always good to be cautious when it comes to lumps that can appear under your arms. All women should perform regular self-exams on their breasts as over 40% of breast cancers are self-detected. An easy way to remind yourself to do these is to schedule the exam into your day as you would anything else. Breast exams are best done once a month at the same time of the month as the feel of your breasts changes throughout the month because of hormones. There are apps available that teache you the best way to perform self-examinations and schedules an automatic monthly reminder to keep you on top of things.

Breast cancer response
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What symptoms might I experience with an armpit lump?

A lump is a general term in regards to any type of swelling or bump. Armpit lumps have a wide range of causes, some of them we have just outlined. Some of the different characteristics that an armpit lump can have are:

  • Size: Large or small
  • Feel: Hard, rubbery, or soft
  • Pain: Does it hurt? Is it painless or tender?
  • Color: Red, off-color, or colorless
  • Visibility: Not visible under the skin or visible on the surface
What symptoms might I experience with an armpit lump?
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Which symptoms should I worry about?

It is advised for you to monitor any lumps you may have. If the lump is a reaction to a recent infection, it will go away on its own. Try to keep the following in mind when dealing with an armpit lump:

  • A small lump that clears up on its own is rarely serious
  • Any lumps that appear reddened or off-color and are painful and persistent should be checked over by your physician
  • Similarly, a large lump that's is red, painful, hot to the touch and/or continues to grow ought to be checked
Which symptoms should I worry about?
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Are there any treatments available for armpit lumps?

Courses of treatment will come down to your physician's individual diagnosis of the armpit lump. If a bacterial infection has caused the lump, it can be treated with a steady course of antibiotics. If the lump doesn't start to disappear, your doctor may either change the oral antibiotic or admit you to the hospital for intravenous antibiotics. For the most part, lumps are benign and therefore don't require any treatment whatsoever.  

Are there any treatments available for armpit lumps?
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Armpit lumps that don't require treatment

If the lump is a residual symptom of a seasonal cold or other viral infection, it will be left to go away on its own. Lipomas, boils, and fibroadenoma (non-cancerous breast lumps) also require no treatment. Armpit lumps that have been diagnosed as being benign by your physician can be treated yourself by using home remedies to alleviate any related pain or symptoms. Home remedies such as green tea, over-the-counter pain relievers, and a warm compress can go a long way toward aiding any discomfort.

Armpit lumps that don't require treatment
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Benign armpit lumps that affect your self-esteem

All-too-often, the benign lumps and bumps that we gain throughout our lives can have painful side effects on our self-esteem. This is completely normal. While it is a great thing if your armpit lump has been diagnosed as being nothing to worry about, if you are left with a lipoma, mole, or skin tag, it can take over your life by making you not want to wear shirts that reveal your armpits. If this is the case, talk to your doctor about referring you to a dermatologist to have it removed.

Benign armpit lumps that affect your self-esteem
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IF your armpit lump is cancerous

While the rarest of the armpit lump diagnoses, if your lump has been biopsied and then diagnosed by your doctor as being cancerous, there are still treatment options available. If you catch the cancerous growth early on, through regular and scheduled self-examination, your chances of making a recovery are higher. In the case that your armpit lump is cancerous, your doctor will refer you to a specialist to stage and treat the type of cancer you have. Treatment options for cancerous lumps include:

  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation
  • Surgery

The outlook of your armpit lump will differ due to its cause, but it's worth keeping in mind that you can trust your doctors in both cases. Health professionals are committed to your well being.

IF your armpit lump is cancerous

Disclaimer

This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.