Painful Lump Under Arm: How to Get Rid, Treat

A clear outline for the lump under arm that may have cancer, those that moves and which are painful and that hurt. Overview of The lump and bump under arm in male, on the upper arm and the causes of swollen lymph nodes.

Lump under Arm Causes

A lump under arm is always referred to as the enlargement of at least one of the lymph nodes under the arm. The Lymph nodes are small and oval shaped glands that are found throughout the body and they play a very critical role in the body’s immune system.
The lump can be too small. In some cases, it can be hard to be noticed. Lump under arm can be caused by infection, cysts or irritation caused to shaving or by use of antiperspirants. However, the lumps could also be an indication of some serious underlying health condition.
You therefore have to seek medical attention when you notice an armpit lump that is gradually becoming enlarged and is not painful or does not go away.
Most of the lumps are usually harmless and are as a result of abnormal tissue growth. However, the lumps under arm might be related to a serious health problem. Any lump that looks unusual has to be carefully examined by a doctor.
The most common causes of lump under arm are:

  • viral or bacterial infections
  • lipomas, this are the harmless fat tissue growths
  • an allergic reaction
  • fungal infection
  • adverse reactions to vaccinations
  • fibro adenoma or noncancerous fibrous tissue growth
  • lymphoma or the lymphatic system cancer
  • breast cancer response
  • leukemia, also known as blood cancer in the bone marrow
  • lupus, this is an autoimmune disease that targets the joints and body organs

Painful Lump under Arm

A lump under arm can also be a sign of breast cancer, this cannot be ruled out. It is because the breast tissue can sometimes reach up into the armpit region. A lump can then be felt in the under arm which can be in reality be a lump in the breast. Most people have never realized that the breast extended that far.
Also, the lymph nodes in the armpit filter out any abnormalities like the infections, reactions to drugs, cancer in the same side chest wall, breast or arm. Therefore a lump under arm can be an indication that the lymph nodes have identified, and are to fighting the cancer cells that have reached them from the breast.
It will therefore be important to visit a doctor if the lump does not disappear on its own after a couple of weeks or if it tends to be getting worse. One should not panic as there are many other causes of lump under arm, and most of them have nothing to relate with cancer.
The most dominant cause of a lump under arm is usually an infection. The infection may be localized to the under arm itself or it can be widespread. It is possible to get an infection when using an antiperspirant rather than a deodorant. An antiperspirants prevents the sweat glands from releasing the germs that can causes infections. You can have an abscess or a boil under the arm.
Some Viral infections chicken pox, shingles, infectious mononucleosis, and also HIV usually cause an underarm lump. You can also get a lump under the arm as a result of reaction to the vaccination such as typhoid, smallpox, measles, rubella and mumps. In other instances, an allergic reaction to iodine or penicillin can also lead to formation of an underarm lump.
Generally, a lump that is moveable and causes pain is a sign of an infection. On the other hand a painless lump that is hard and is fixed in one place is more likely to be cancer than one that is painful, movable, and softer. Such a lump not always necessarily signify that is cancer cancer.
An unexplained lump, that is a lump that is not quickly identified as whether being from illness or injury has about a five percent chance of being malignant. For those who are over the age of thirty five have a higher chance of malignancy than those who are below.
Additionally, a lump that tends to increase in size within few days can probably be as a result of an infection rather than malignancy. Soreness and Redness of the skin can also be a sign of a lymph node infection and not cancer.
For those who have the lump that have become persistent for weeks should visit a doctor. The doctor will need to know the following during the assessment;

  • When the lump was first noticed
  • if the size of the lump has changed
  • whether it does hurt
  • if one has noticed anything that may seem to make it worse
  • if there is any other symptoms of illness
  • whether you are breast feeding

In case the answers to the above will not have shed any light on the situation, then doctor may have to carry out a CT scan, an ultrasound, CT scan, or a mammogram. Any of these will provide a clear view of what the lump is consist of.
You can also try fine needle aspiration. This is procedure that draws fluid from the affected lymph node for examination. A biopsy may be carried out if all the above tests does not give a conclusive result.
If the lump under arm feels painful and is a soft lump, then it might be that the skin around it is red, and it seems to be growing. This can most probably be from an infection. You therefore have to visit the doctor for some antibiotics.
If the lump under arm is hard and painless, and it seems to be fixed in place or feel like it is connected to the other hard lumps and seems not to be changing in size day to day, it does not grow quickly, then you have to consult and visit a doctor to rule out cancer.
You can also make a visit to a doctor about any lump under arm that may seems to be worsening quickly, or does not disappear within a few of weeks. The only time may not need to pursue for the treatment of a lump in the under arm is if it disappears entirely, and does not reoccur.

Lump under Arm that Hurts

The lump under arm that hurts can be as a result of a number of things. This includes cysts which are the fluid-filled sacs, an enlarged lymph nodes, abscesses which are the pockets of infection, an infected hair follicles, or the swollen sweat glands.
This can also be as a result of cancer. It cannot be ruled out. The best way to find out for the cause is by a doctor carrying out a biopsy. This is done by taking a small sample of one of the lumps and then examining it in a laboratory for the cancer cells.
If you noticed the lumps on both underarm areas then the cancer is rarely symmetrical. The lumps can go away completely, cancer usually does not spontaneously recede.
You have had this condition for a couple of years without new symptoms or worsening (people with cancer usually notice more and more symptoms over time).
To those experiencing a biweekly cycle of these lumps appearing and disappearing, especially in women you are a women whereby the lumps have a tendency of appearing and disappearing at a particular point during the monthly menstrual cycle.
This might then suggest that they are responding to the hormonal shifts that usually occur regularly. An example is a condition called hidradenitis suppurativa, a condition that causes a painful lump under arm that comes and goes with the hormonal shifts. This lumps usually hurt.
If the lumps appear at a particular time in relation to when one shaves the under arm, then it can be as a result of the sensitiveness to the shaving cream that you are using.  This can lead to an infection of a hair follicle, condition known as folliculitis.
Those that are allergic to the deodorant, and the lumps appear and disappear can suggest that it may not be caused by an allergy to deodorant. If you have been using the deodorant quite a long period of time then you can consider testing whether you are allergic to the deodorant by stopping it for several weeks.
The treatment for the lump under arm will require the doctor to find out their cause. You therefore need to make an appointment at a time when you expect these lumps to be many. The Treatments for benign lumps can include;

  • a Hot compresses
  • Over the counter pain medicine like an acetaminophen or ibuprofen
  • Lancing by using a scalpel or needle so as to open up the lump and drain out the fluid or pus
  • Acne type medications to control outbreaks
  • An Antibiotics for suspected infection that is either applied directly to the area or taken orally by mouth

Do not ever try to squeeze the lumps in an effort to pop them out. Also do not ever try to poke the lumps using a needle to drain it out by yourself.
Squeezing or poking can lead to a more serious infection. Because you are experiencing a lot of pain, the best course of action during this time is to make an effort of visiting a doctor. The physician will quickly diagnose the lump under arm and make treat them to disappear and never reoccur.

Lump under Arm Cancer

Discovering on how the breasts normally look like and feel is very important on keeping up with the breast health. By detecting cancer as early as possible always gives one a better chance of a successful treatment. Knowing what to look for doesn’t only involve having a regular mammograms and screening tests. The Screening tests help to find cancer in its early stages before the symptoms appear.
The common symptom of cancer is usually a new lump or mass. A painless and hard mass that has an irregular edges is more likely to be cancerous, though for breast cancers they may be tender, rounded or soft. They may even be painful. It is therefore important to have any new breast lump or mass be examined by a health care professional experienced in diagnosing breast diseases.
A breast cancer may sometimes spread to the lymph nodes under the arm or on the collar bone and causes swelling or a lump there. The lump under arm may form even before the original tumor in the breast tissue is felt. The Swollen lymph nodes have to be reported to a doctor.
Although these symptoms can also be caused by other factors than breast cancer, therefore for those experiencing them have to make a visit to the doctor so that he or she can find out the cause.
The mammograms do not also find every breast cancer, it is very important for one to be aware of the changes in the breasts and be aware of the signs and symptoms of a breast cancer.

Lump under Arm Male Changes in Lymph Nodes

A Swollen lymph nodes appear like small bean shaped glands and normally found on the neck, under arm and other body parts. They are often an indication that something going on in the body.
It symbolizes that the immune system is fighting a cold or sore throat or a certain cancers also may make them change too. You therefore need to have a doctor check on any swelling that does not get any better in about two to four weeks.
Men usually tend to ignore the breast lumps because they think breast cancer is only foe women. Statistically about one percent of all breast cancers occur in men, and they are usually diagnosed much later. You really do not need to take any chances. If you notice a lump, let it be checked by the doctor.

Lump under Arm that Moves

One can check the lump with the fingers by trying to make them move around when applying a gentle pressure. If it is it just under the skin and does not move, then can be a cyst. Cysts are usually harmless and may make the skin to turn to a yellowish color and which may also cause the pea sized lump under arm.
Because these lumps are generally harmless, you do not need a treatment. But if these growths causes trouble or look unsightly, you can consider options like liposuction, surgery or steroid injections. The treatment option that works best for you will depend on the size of the lump under armpit.
Bacterial, fungal or viral infection are the most causes responsible for a lump under arm. Shaving the underarm hairs, especially in adults can bruise and damage the underarm skin. This in turn gives a chance for the bacteria present on the skin surface to get into the hair follicle and cause an abscess or boil or. The lump is usually painful.
The Use of deodorants and antiperspirants can irritate the under arm skin producing small lumps in that area.
Because the lymph fluid always drains from breast and arms through the lymph nodes of the under arm, any inflammation or infection in these areas may lead to swelling of the lymph nodes of the underarm.
A hard lump under arm in women can be a cause of concern as it may be a symptom of a breast cancer. The abnormal cancer cells are always known to cause a swelling or a lump in the armpit. Therefore, women shouldn’t neglect the lumps and instead consult the doctor as soon as possible.
The cancer lump in the under arm is usually painless, hard and matted.
One can notice lump under arm after vaccination in children. This usually disappears after a few days by its own without any treatment.
Some viral infections like HIV, infectious mononucleosis, herpes may also produce a lump in the under arm and in the groin area.
A soft lump that and moves under the skin surface and fluctuates may be as a result of lipoma. A Lipoma is a non-malignant growth of fatty tissues.

Lump under Arm Breastfeeding

The lumps under arm are a worry at any time. They may be very common to women during breastfeeding and the lumps usually come and go. The causes for a more persistent lumps can include engorgement, mastitis and a blocked duct. Incase mastitis or engorgement are not treated well they can lead to a breast abscess.
The Lump under arm may also be associated with breastfeeding because the breast tissue are extended into the under arm. The Other possibilities can also include a benign tumor or fibroma, a milk filled cyst which is referred to as galactocele and an inflammatory breast cancer. It is advised that you have to check with your doctor on any lump that does not disappear after a few weeks.
The lumps in the breast can shift location and change, they can also get larger and smaller as the breast empties and fills. The Lumps that come and go don’t raise any concern, but if the lump is persistent then it has to be investigated.
The tissues in the breast extends into the under arm. During engorgement one you notice lump under arm and swelling on the armpit. It is possible to have an extra breast tissue that is not connected to the breast both in the armpit and the other body areas.  This breast tissue can become engorged when the milk first comes in.
An Extra breast tissue can be a developmental variation in human anatomy. The Breast development usually begins at the fourth week of gestation, with parallel lines of glandular tissue known as the milk line that are extending from slightly beyond the underarm area, then down the chest and abdomen, to the groin area.
The Breasts develops from these lines of tissue and the remaining tissue usually regresses. In some cases, there are incomplete regression of mammary ridge during the embryo development, and an extra nipples or breast tissue forms along this line or in the other body parts. This
The Extra nipples usually forms below the breasts or on the under arm area. The extra mammary tissue is located in the under arm area. The extra nipples is more common among males.

Lump under Upper Arm

The Keratosis pilaris which are commonly called KP and they usually appears as chicken skin lumps on the skin. These lumps usually form on the upper arms and the thighs. They can also form on the cheeks, buttocks and the back. The Keratosis pilaris while unattractive is always harmless.
A keratoancanthoma appears when the cells in the hair follicle don’t grow normally. Their growth can be triggered by a minor injury on the skin in an area that had previously suffered a sun damage. The Ultraviolet radiation from sun’s exposure is one of the biggest risk factor in keratoacanthomas.
A keratoacanthoma usually appears on a sun damaged skin as a thick growth that with a central crusted plug. They often appear most in people who are of the age of fifty five and above and they are referred to as a low grade skin cancer. They are also rapidly growing, red in colour and a dome shaped lumps with central craters. Some of them can grow to extremely large sizes, probably one to three inches in diameter.
This Keratoacanthomas may be removed by:

  • Cryotherapy which is usually done by freezing the growth with the liquid nitrogen
  • This is the scraping and burning off of the growth)
  • Surgical removal
  • An Injection of a cancer drug directly into the lesion

This condition leads to formation of small and rough lumps. The lumps are usually red or white in colour. They do not hurt or itch. Keratosis pilaris can be worse during the winter season or any other time of low humidity when skin dry up. It can also worsen at the time of pregnancy or after giving birth.
Further references:

  1. Armpit Lump:
  2. Lumps and swellings:
  3. Cysts, Lumps, Bumps, and Your Skin: