Painful Lump Under the Armpit

Painful Lump Under the Armpit

The presence of a painful lump under the armpit may be entirely benign or may be an indication of some serious disorder. Here's more about its causes and treatment.
HealthHearty Staff
Last Updated: Apr 22, 2018
Lumps under the armpit or on any part of the body are very common. More often than not, they are due to some minor causes and need no medical intervention. However, you should know for sure if the lump is benign or malignant. The only way to know this is by getting yourself checked by a qualified medical practitioner. The cause of the lump could be as frivolous as an ingrown hair or a razor bump, however, the possibility of cancer cannot be ruled out. Therefore, you should always consider a painful lump under the armpit as an issue of concern.
Causes
Cysts
Cysts are the elevated bumps on the skin, which are mostly caused due to ingrown hair or excess use of antiperspirants or deodorants. They are mostly found in adolescents, who have just started shaving their hair. Needless to say, cysts or razor bumps cure on their own and require no medical intervention. If the cyst persists, one should consult a doctor, and get it examined.
Bacterial and Fungal Infections
Any type of bacterial or fungal infection causes the lymph nodes to swell. Some lymph nodes are located in the armpits. Therefore, an enlarged lymph node can be easily detected with self examination. Fungal infection like sporotrichosis and bacterial infection like cat scratch disease bring about the enlargement of lymph nodes.
Vaccines
Allergic responses to certain vaccines may lead to painful lumps. This is mostly due to the sulpha drug, iodine, or penicillin. The vaccines that are most likely to induce allergic response of this type are measles vaccine, mumps vaccine, rubella vaccine, smallpox vaccine, typhoid vaccine, etc.
Viral Infections
Viral infections are mostly of a serious consequence, therefore the lumps, caused due to viral infections, need medical intervention. The viral infections such as HIV/AIDS, chickenpox, infectious mononucleosis, shingles (herpes zoster), etc., are capable of producing painful lumps under the armpit.
Cancer
Breast cancer remains the most common cause of hard painful lumps under the armpits, if you are a woman. The abnormal growth of breast tissue may extend up to the armpit. Thus, it is important to detect if there are other lumps in and around the breast. Other forms of cancer like Hodgkin's lymphoma, leukemia, Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (another type of lymphoma) etc., may bring about enlargement of the lymph nodes, thereby forming a lump.
Treatment
The treatment depends upon the underlying cause. If the cause of lump is a minor one, then you should expect it to go away within 2 - 3 days. However, if it does not, there is no point in delaying your appointment with a physician. Blood tests or biopsies may be performed to detect the exact cause. Treatment can then be initiated accordingly. Infections can be treated with antibiotics or similar medications. While surgery is the only option to deal with carcinogenic lumps. Lumps due to allergic responses can be cured when the trigger to allergies is suppressed or removed.
As mentioned before, the painful lump in your armpit may turn out to be a cause for concern. If you have a previous or family history of cancer, then you should not waste any time after you detect the presence of lump under the armpit. If you are a woman, then seeing your gynecologist would be a good idea. Let your doctor decide the cause of the lump, after which he will be able to recommend you an appropriate treatment.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.