The lymphatic system is a vital and indispensable part of the immune system in the human body. The lymphatic system consists of lymph nodes present all over the body. These lymph nodes are small in size and resemble the shape of a bean. Lymphocytes, or the lymph cells, produce antibodies and antioxidants which destroy infection causing bacteria, viruses, and foreign particles present in the body, which in turn help the body to fight diseases. Swollen lymph under arms, in the groin, side of the neck, or above the collarbone are caused when the lymph nodes in these areas get infected. Sometimes, these swollen lymph nodes settle down by themselves and at times can also be a symptom of diseases like AIDS or cancer.
Lymph nodes in almost any part of the body may swell - the neck, arms, back, etc. Just as the location can vary, so can the causes for this medical condition. Here are some of the common causes of swollen lymph nodes under the arm:
- Viral Infection
- Shingles (herpes zoster)
- HIV infection or AIDS
- Infectious mononucleosis
- Fungal Infection
- Bacterial Infection
- Cat scratch disease
- A localized infection in the armpits, breasts, or somewhere in the arm
- Ascending Lymphadenitis
- Typhoid vaccine
- Mumps, measles, or rubella vaccine
- Smallpox vaccine
- Any allergic reaction caused by sulfa drugs, penicillin, or iodine
- Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma
- Hodgkin's lymphoma
- Other causes
- Normal breast tissue extending into the armpits
- Lipomas (fatty growths)
- A harmless cyst
The treatments are varied and depend upon the causes of ailment. Antibiotics would be administered if the disease is caused due to bacteria and antivirals are prescribed if viral infection is diagnosed. If the doctor feels that the swollen lymph node is cancerous, he/she would suggest a biopsy and if it is diagnosed as cancer, you would undergo chemotherapy to reduce swelling. A swollen lymph node under arm, caused due to the enlargement of the breast tissue or lymphoma normally does not require any treatment as it heals naturally.
At times, no specific treatment is required for the nodes to get back to normal. However, it is advised that you seek medical attention in case of any of the following:
- If the swelling does not disappear on its own after many weeks.
- If you feel any other abnormalities like fatigue, weight loss, fever, or sweating at night.
- If the swollen lymph nodes appear to be tender and red.
- If the glands grow rapidly and you experience abnormal growth.
Few Precautions While Curing Swollen Lymph Nodes Under Arm
- You need to take care of your personal hygiene, if there is a cyst or a boil formed underarm by cleaning it regularly while bathing.
- You should wear clothes which suit your skin. Moreover, try avoiding synthetic clothes as they retain sweat in the body thereby increasing the chances of bacterial infection.
- In case of a normal cyst, it will disappear on its own without any treatment. It would help if you press the cyst gently with warm water on a piece of cloth several times a day.
- Once the cyst or boil bursts, clean that part so as to prevent infection from spreading.
- If the cyst does not burst after a couple of weeks on its own, you need to consult a doctor.
If there are two or more areas in your body with swollen lymph nodes, it may be a case of lymphadenopathy. However, a single swollen lymph node under arm is not always a serious issue. In case of any such abnormalities in the body, it is important to consult a doctor immediately for the proper diagnosis and treatment, as when it comes to health-related issues, a doctor knows best.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.