Lump in Armpit, Painful, Painless, Pea Sized, Male, Female, Soft, Hard, Small, Large, Knot, Sore, Pictures, Causes, Get Rid, Treatment. & Home Remedies

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A lump or bump in armpit may be small or large, painful or painless, hard or soft. Whereas some underarm lumps may be protruding and visible, others are invisible and can only be felt under the armpit skin when touched. Some people develop a hard pea sized bump under their armpits. Is a painless lump under arm an indication of a possibly more serious condition?  Does an armpit lump have a different significance in male and female people? Explore the causes, signs, symptoms, images and diagnosis of a lump in armpit. Also, find out how you can get rid of it using medical treatment and home remedies.

What Is an Armpit Lump?

A lump or bump in your armpit refers to any abnormal mass of tissue that develops in your underarm. The lump may be hard or soft, painful or painless. It may be tiny, small, pea sized or large. Generally, the texture of the lump varies depending f the cause.

The usual cause of a lump in armpit is enlarged lymph node. However, the enlargement of the lymph node is often associated with another condition. Nevertheless, a lump may develop in your armpit without any connection with lymph nodes.

A lump under the arm may be a sign of harmless conditions such as cysts, and lipomas or a razor bump that develops after shaving. However, the lump may also be an indication of a more serious health issue such as cancer.

A lump in armpit is more likely to be an indication of cancer in women than in men. This is because women are more likely to develop breast cancer than men. However, men can also develop cancerous lumps or bumps in their armpits.

Surprisingly, a painless lump in armpit is likely to be an indication or a more serious condition than a painful one. Typically, cancerous lumps or bumps tend to be painless. However, a cancerous lump in the armpit can also be painful.

Signs and Symptoms of Armpit Lump

The signs and symptoms of lump or bump in armpit or under arm vary depending on the cause of the lump. The general signs and symptoms include:

  • Painful tissue mass in armpit
  • Painless tissue mass in armpit
  • Hard mass of tissue in the armpit
  • Pain or sore in the armpit
  • Itchiness in the armpit

Lumps in armpit that are caused by infections are usually accompanied by the following characteristics:

  • fever
  • pain in the lumps
  • night sweats
  • swollen lymph nodes in the whole the body

Lumps in armpit due to cancerous conditions such as breast cancer, lymphoma and leukemia show the following general characteristics:

  • They gradually change in size
  • They do not go away

Armpit Lump Images

We have inserted several armpit lump images or pictures throughout this post to enable you have a hint about your armpit problem. However, the pictures should not be used for self-diagnosis. Visit a doctor for proper diagnosis of your problem.

Causes of Lump in Armpit

What causes lumps in armpit? There are several possible causes of lumps or bumps in armpit. While some of the causes are considered harmless, others may constitute serious health problems that may need to be addressed quickly. Some of the common causes of lumps under arm include the following.

1. Ingrown Hair Bump

An ingrown hair bump is a hard raised lesion that is formed on your skin due to an ingrown hair. An ingrown hair is a hair that is trapped under the skin or curls back into the skin instead of growing outward.

As a result, the skin around the ingrown hair becomes irritated, leading to the formation of an ingrown hair bump. Ingrown hair bumps may appear individually or in grow in case more hairs are involved.  An ingrown hair bump can form in your armpit or any other area of your skin with hair.

An ingrown hair bump looks like a red small pimple or, boil-like sore that is usually inflamed and painful. Ingrown hair bumps develop due to curly hairs or as a result of shaving when hair is cut under the skin.

2. Razor Bumps

A razor bump is a raised lesion that is formed on your skin as a result of hair removal by shaving or waxing or tweezing. Razor bumps are formed as a result of poor shaving techniques like cutting the hair under the skin or tugging and pooling it. They can form in the armpit after removing under arm hair.

Poor shaving techniques irritate the skin around the hair causing inflammation and ingrown hairs that constitute razor bumps. Razor bumps look like small red pimples that may be filled with pus, especially when they get infected.

3. Clogged Pores

The bumps in your armpit could be as a result of clogged pores under your arm due to various reasons, including the use of antiperspirants. This leads to the formation of acne spots (zits, pimples, blackheads or white heads) under your arm.

Clogged pores are commonly caused by overproduction of sebum that dues to stress or hormonal changes, especially during periods or pregnancy.

4. Armpit Cyst

A cyst is a noncancerous fluid-filled enclosed sac-like structure that can form under your skin or within internal organs. When it forms under the skin, it is called a sebaceous cyst. Cysts are usually caused by infections or clogging of glands.

Sebaceous cysts may form on any part of your skin, including your armpit. Therefore, the lump or bump in your armpit may be an armpit cyst. Cysts are usually painless since they are themselves not an infection even if they may be caused by infections.

5. Armpit Abscess

The armpit lump might be an armpit abscess. An abscess is a swollen area under your skin or within internal body tissue that contains an accumulation of pus. Unlike a cyst, an abscess is not enclosed by a sac-like structure.

An abscess that is formed under the skin is called a sebaceous abscess or more commonly a boil. A boil that occurs individually is referred to as a furuncle. When boils occur in a cluster they constitute a carbuncle.

An armpit abscess is a sebaceous abscess or boil that is formed underarm. Sebaceous abscesses are caused by a bacterial infection of the hair follicles, especially due to staphylococcus bacterium. They are usually red inflamed, very painful lumps or bumps that are surrounded by reddened skin.

6. Enlarge Lymph Node

A lump in the armpit might be as a result of axillary lymphadenopathy (enlarged or swollen lymph nodes) in the armpit, called axillary lymph nodes. This can happen to one or both of your armpits. Swollen lymph nodes in armpit may be caused by various factors, including an infection, an autoimmune diseases or cancer. The swelling may also be caused by an injury to your arm, hand or finger.

Lymph nodes are small kidney-like oval organs forming part of the lymphatic system. They store a certain type of white blood cells known as lymphocytes. Lymphocytes produce antibodies in response to antigens (foreign materials or toxins or pathogens) in the immune system.

The antibodies help fight help fight the antigens in the immune system, which may be caused by infections or any other foreign material.  When unable to fight the antigens, the number of cells fighting the pathogens is increased, making the lymph nodes to expand and cause enlarged or swollen lymph nodes.

7. Armpit skin tags

A lump in armpit may be an armpit skin tag. A skin tag is medically known as acrochordon (plural acrochorda). A skin tag is a harmless, small soft and flappy growth that hangs off the skin. It is usually attached to the skin by a stalk-like stem of flesh.

Although they commonly occur on the neck, eyelid and genitals, skin tags can also develop under breast, on nipples on chest, on back and in the armpit. A skin tag may also develop on any other part of your skin.

The actual cause of skin tags is not known. However, skin tags are associated with old age, overweight, friction, hormonal changes, hereditary factors and diabetes type 2. Friction is probably one of the main causes of armpit skin tags because of the rubbing that often occurs underarm.

8. Fibroadenoma

An armpit lump may be a fibroadenoma. A breast is made up of milk producing glands called lobules, and tubes that carry the milk to the nipple called ducts.  The Lobules and ducts are surrounded by fibrous and fatty tissues.

Fibroadenomas are solid, noncancerous growths or lumps in breast that develop from the breast lobules. Fibroadenomas form over the breast lobules but can occasionally be felt near the armpit.  They tend to occur in women between the ages of 15 and 35.

Unlike, typical breast cancer lumps due, fibroadenomas usually have flexible and well-defined shapes. However, it may be difficult to distinguish them definitely. Therefore, it is recommended that you go for diagnosis, usually ultrasound analysis, to rule out breast cancer when you have any lump in breast.

9. Lipomas

If the lump under your armpit is soft and movable, it is likely to be a lipoma. This is a common non-cancerous fat tissue growth that develops beneath the skin.

A lipoma is a soft and movable lump and are generally painless, but can be a little painful in rare cases. They are slow growing lumps and may vary in size, from those that are too small to be noticed to huge ones. They can easily be identified by touch, although this does not confirm them.

Apart from the armpit, lipomas also commonly develop on the torso, neck, upper arms and upper thighs, However, they can develop almost anywhere in the body.

The actual cause of lipomas is not known. However, they tend to be hereditary, but can also develop as a result of minor tissue injuries. Contrary to common opinion, lipomas are not caused by overweight or obesity.

10. Infections

Besides other conditions, various infections can cause bumps or lumps in your armpit. They include bacterial, fungal and viral infections.

(a) Bacterial Infections

Various bacterial infections can lead to the formation of lumps in the armpit. painful or sore bumps may develop in your armpit skin when infected by bacteria, especially through the minor cuts after hair removal. Bacteria can also infect the hair follicles, leading to boils under your arm.

Lumps in your armpit may be due to a common bacterial condition called hidradenitis suppurativa. This is a long-term bacteria condition that causes red, tender bumps in the armpits. The lumps may also appear on the groin. With time, the bumps often develop into abscesses and can cause scarring in the affected areas.

(b) Fungal Infections

Various fungal infections may affect the lymphatic system, leading to swollen lymph nodes in the armpit.  An infection called sporotichosis is a common example of fungal diseases that lead lumps under the skin, including in armpit. The lumps caused by sporotichosis are usually painless and can also in feet and hands.

(c)  Viral Infections

Viral infections that can cause bumps or lumps in your armpit include infectious mononucleosis, herpes virus, HIV/AIDS, herpes Zoster (Shingles), chickenpox (Varicella). Generally, these infections affect the lymphatic system, giving rise to swollen lymph nodes especially under the armpit.

11. Allergies

A lump in the armpit may be as a result of an allergic reaction to various allergens. In case you used a new antiperspirant, deodorant, shaving gel or cream and bumps formed in your armpit, these could be the cause because they are the main cause of allergies in the armpits.

Lumps may also form due to adverse reactions to certain medications. For example, you are likely to develop sore armpit lump after having a flu shot or vaccination. Other drugs that may cause such reactions include iodine, sulfa and penicillin.

12. Knot Under Armpit

A muscle knot in armpit may be the cause a lumpy feeling under your arm.  A muscle knot or just a knot is also called a Myofascial trigger point or just a trigger point. “It is a very small, localized area of muscle contraction that is hard to the touch, and that is very tender” [Quora]. It is a painful area in the muscle that feels like a nodule or band in the muscle affected.

Other areas of the body that are often affected by muscle knots include back, upper neck, and on shoulders.

Muscle knots form as a result of losing mobility and flexibility in the affected muscle due to chronic hydration, injury or remaining stationary for long, like when you sit at a computer for a prolonged period without movement. The strained muscle fibers start to stick together forming a hard and lumpy feeling.

13. Hyperthyroidism

A lump in your armpit may be due to swollen glands under your arm due to the overproduction of thyroid hormones in the body. This condition of the thyroid (a small, butterfly-shaped gland at the front of your neck) is called hyperthyroidism.

The most common cause of hyperthyroidism includes Graves’ disease, which is an autoimmune disorder. Other causes include excess iodine, certain medications like tetraiodothyronine, inflammation of the thyroid, benign tumors in the ovaries and testes, and benign tumors in the thyroid or pituitary glands.

14. Cancer

Various cancerous conditions may lead to the formation of lumps in your armpit, especially in women.  Generally, the various cancerous conditions cause enlarged lymph node in the armpit when they affect the lymph system or after spreading into the lymph system.

  • Breast cancer: When breast cancer spreads to lymph nodes in armpit it may cause swelling or lumps in the armpit. The area around your collarbone may also develop lumps due to breast cancer.
  • Leukemia (cancer of the blood cells). This is a disease of the white blood cells. It may cause one or more lumps in the armpit when it spreads to the lymphatic system.
  • Lymphoma (cancer of the lymphatic system). This is a cancer of the lymphatic system that affects the white blood cells known as lymphocytes. Among the symptoms of this disease is swollen lymph nodes around the body, especially in the neck, groin, abdomen, or armpits.

15. Breast Surgery Side Effects

Surgical procedures involving the breast or the area around the breast for medical or cosmetic reasons may cause hard lumps in the armpit.  Mastectomy (removal of the whole breast) or breast augmentation (change of size or shape of the breast) are two common surgical procedures that can cause lumps in the armpit.

There are different types of lumps that may be formed as a result of breast surgery. Siliconomas are the most common such lumps. They are small and tender lumps from ruptured breast implants that spread beyond their intended location.

Painful Lump in Armpit

A painful lump under armpit is usually an indication of swollen lymph nodes due to an infection. Infections are more likely to cause a painful or sore lump under than other conditions. However, although cancerous lumps in the armpit are usually painless especially at the early stage, they may also be painful especially at later stages.

Lump Armpit Female

When a lump arises in the armpit on women, it might be an indication of a severe condition especially breast cancer. Women are more likely to develop breast cancer than men. In spite of this, females may also develop harmless lumps like lipomas and cysts in their armpits.

Typically, during pregnancy, a woman may develop lumps under armpits due to the presence of excess breast tissue that extends to the armpits. The lump may in later stages of pregnancy get enlarged. This is normal but you can always check with your health provider to rule out any serious conditions.

A painful lump in armpit female: In women, having a painful or tender lump in the armpit is likely to be as a result of an infection that has spread to the lymph system. However, females need to be more careful with lumps in their armpits because they have a higher risk of breast cancer.

Women may also lump in armpit during pregnancy or breastfeeding. Breast tissues, called tail of spence or hyperadenia, extend into the axilla or armpit. During late pregnancy, as the breasts prepare to lactate, this tissue forms milk glands, which may enlarge to form lumps in armpit. This may happen even during breastfeeding. Also, a clogged milk duct in the thees breast tissues may cause an armpit lump.

Therefore, if you develop a small hard pea sized lump under arm, usually with no pain, it might be as a result of enlarged milk glands or a blocked milk ducts in the breast tissues that extend into the armpit. Normally, such a lump is not a cause for worry and it usually disappears with time.

Lump in Armpit Male

Generally, a lump under the armpit in men might not be an indication of a serious condition. Armpit lumps in males are likely to be harmless cysts. Men are twice more likely to develop cysts as compared to women. Mostly, these harmless cysts go away on their own, although they might be sore and tender when touched.

Therefore, a lump in the armpit of a male person should not be cause for concern unless they show warning signs indicating the lump is serious or it causes discomfort. Men are far less likely to get a lump in the armpit that is caused by breast cancer.

A painful lump in armpit male: A painful lump in a man’s armpit is generally caused by various infections, which have spread to the lymph system. Another common cause of a lump in armpit that hurts is irritation due to shaving or a reaction to antiperspirants.

Painless Lump under Armpit

You should not ignore a painless lump in the armpit. It is potentially more dangerous than a painful armpit lump. This is because cancerous lumps are usually painless, especially at the initial stage. However, lipomas, armpit skin tags and armpit cysts, which are all basically harmless, may appear as painless lumps under your armpit.

Pea Sized Lump in Armpit

If you can see or feel a pea sized lump or bump under your armpit skin, then it is probably a swollen lymph node. Whether it is painful or painless it is advisable that you see your doctor for examination and diagnosis. There are many causes or swollen lymph nodes, including various cancerous conditions.

However, a pea sized lump I the armpit may also occur due to other conditions like a lipoma, ingrown hair bumps, and allergic reactions. Nevertheless, it is still vital to go for examination, especially when you cannot connect the cause of the lump to a harmless cause.

Small Lump in Armpit

Any of the causes of armpit lumps can cause small lumps under your arm. However, the common cause is enlarged lymph nodes in the armpit or an ingrown hair bump. Sometimes, the condition stars like a small lump in armpit feel like pimple, but later grows with time and become huge. See you doctor or diagnosis if the small lump in your armpit does not disappear after a few weeks, whether it is painful or painless.

Large Lump in Armpit

A big or large lump in the armpit is likely to be a lipoma or a sebaceous cyst or an ingrown hair cyst or swollen lymph nodes.  However, this does not rule out other possible causes. See your doctor for diagnosis and treatment in case you have a large armpit lump whether it is painful or painless.

Hard Lump under Armpit

A hard lump under armpit is likely to be fibroadenomas or a cancerous tumor.  Unlike lumps caused by infections, these lumps may feel hard and immobile. However, a hard lump in the armpit or near breast is not always a cancerous tumor. Therefore, it is vital to see your doctor for examination and diagnosis to rule out cancer in case of hard lumps in the armpit.

Diagnose of Armpit Lumps

There are so many possible causes of lumps in armpit. Therefore, it is vital have a proper diagnosis in order to find out the exact cause of the lump under your arm.  The first step of diagnosing a lump in the armpit is a physical examination. Thereafter, other tests may follow in case physical examination alone is not adequate.

If your doctor fills that the physical examination is not adequate in the diagnosis, he/she may order further testing. Usually, further tests are carried out to rule out infections, allergic reactions, or cancerous changes.

Physical Examination for Armpit Lump

Physical examination of a lump in your arm usually involves the following procedures:

  • Questions: The doctor will ask you questions about the development and changes the lump in your armpit has undergone. Whether the lump is painful or painless, itchy or not.
  • Observation: Your doctor will observe the lump under your arm to determine its appearance, color, size and shape and texture.
  • Palpation: The doctor will also palpate (massage or touch) the lump in your armpit to find out its structural form, how big it is and whether it is hard or soft.

Further Tests for Armpit Lump

Your doctor may order for one or a combination of some of the following tests to determine the cause of the lump in your armpit:

  • Biopsy: This test involves taking a small piece of tissue from the lump in your armpit. The tissue is taken to the laboratory for tests. This may involve examining the tissue under a microscope to find out the problem that is associated with the lump in your armpit.
  • Ultrasound: Ultrasound imaging or ultrasound scanning uses high-frequency sound waves to produce signals from your inside of your armpit and the surrounding area. The signal is then converted into pictures on a video screen. The doctor studies the images to determine the cause of the lump in your armpit.
  • Computed Tomography (CT scan): In this test, computed tomography (CT scanner) is used to take multiple X-rays around the armpit and the surrounding features. A computer then compiles the X-rays into images. The doctor studies the image to determine the cause of the lump in your armpit.
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI scan): In this test, a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanner creates detailed images of the armpit and the surrounding body structures using a high-powered magnet. The doctor then studies the images to determine the problem in your armpit.
  • X-Ray: Your doctor may order a chest or breast X-ray. This an imaging test that enables the doctor to have a better view of the lump and hence determine the cause or possible cause of the lump under your arm.
  • Complete Blood Count (CBC): This is a test that determines whether there is an increase or decrees of your blood cell out – Red blood cells, White blood cells and Platelets. The results obtained from this test can then be used to determine certain disorders that may be affecting your health.
  • Allergy Tests: This test involves individual skin tests, blood tests and other tests. These tests are used to determine whether a certain condition or substance is the cause of an abnormal reaction in your body or on your skin. This will help the doctor determine whether allergic reactions are the cause of your armpit lump.

Armpit Lump Treatment

The treatment of a lump in armpit usually depends on the cause of the lump. The common treatments for armpit lumps due to various causes are as follows:

  • Abscesses and Cysts: Abscess and cysts in the armpit are usually treated by incision and drainage: This involves cutting them open and daring them to get rid of the fluids. This procedure is carried out by a health care provider. Topical or oral antibacterial medication is also used in case of abscesses.
  • Infections: Doctors will administer various treatments to infections causing lumps in the armpit. Once the infections are cured, the lumps are expected to disappear, though gradually. The type of treatments given depend on the causes of the infections:
  • Bacterial Infections: The doctor will prescribe topical or oral antibiotic medications to get rid of the bacterial infection that is causing lumps in the armpit
  • Fungal Infections: The doctor will prescribe topical or oral antifungal medications for the treatment of the fungal infection causing lumps in the armpit
  • Viral Infections: The doctor will administer appropriate antiviral medications to mitigate or treat the symptoms of the infection.
  • Lipomas in Armpit. A lipoma is usually harmless lump anywhere on your body. However, it can be removed surgically in case it is huge or causes discomfort.
  • Fibroadenoma: These lumps are usually harmless and do not have to be treated or removed. However, your doctor might recommend surgery to remove it if it is found to be abnormal, extremely large, is growing bigger or it is causing other symptoms.
  • Skin Tags in Armpit: Unless they are causing problems, skin tags in the armpit or any other part of the skin do not have to be treated or removed. However, for medical or cosmetic purposes, doctors can remove skin tags by incision surgery using scissors or scalpel Other methods of removing skin tags include electric cautery (burning off the skin tags), ligation (tying them off with string), or cryotherapy (freezing them off with liquid nitrogen).
  • Allergy Lumps in Armpit: Usually, the lumps caused by allergic react go away when the allergen or irritant is removed. Therefore, such lumps or bumps can be eliminated by avoiding the allergens. However, they can be removed surgically in case they are huge and don’t seem to disappear even after removing the allergens.
  • Muscle Knot: A muscle not in the armpit, like in any other part of the body, can be treated by taking adequate rest, massages, stretching and physical therapy. The method used to get rid of muscle knots may be influenced by the cause and location on the body.
  • Cancerous Lumps in Armpit: Lumps in armpit as a result of the various cancerous conditions can be removed using procedures that also treat the cancer condition itself. Depending on the stage of the cancer involved, the lumps can be treated using surgical procedures, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, immunotherapy and targeted therapy.
  • Armpit Bumps from Breast Surgery: Although it is impossible to remove all the traces of the lumps in armpit and breast as a result of surgery, they can be removed through further surgery. However, they are usually removed only if they are symptomatic; for example, when they are growing or causing other problems.

Home Remedies for Armpit Lumps

The following home remedies may help get rid or prevent lumps in your armpit. Home remedies are usually effective only when there are no serious underlying health problems causing the lumps. They can be used to treat ingrown hair bumps, razor bumps and swollen lymph nodes due to injury.

  • Cold and Warm Compress: Apply a warm compress on the lump to ease any discomfort and pain and speed up recovery. You can alternate it with a cold compress for better results.
  • Apple Cider Vinegar: Apply diluted apple cider vinegar on the lumps to relieve pain and fight bacterial and fungal infections
  • Honey: Apply raw honey on the lumps and wash it out with warm water after about 10 minutes. Repeat this daily to ease the pain and destroy bacteria and fungus on the lump, making it heal faster.
  • Turmeric: Make a turmeric paste and apply it on the affected area. Wash it out with warm water after 10 minutes. Repeat this two times every day to heal the lumps
  • Hygiene: Maintain proper hygiene by keeping your skin as clean to prevent bacterial or fungal infections.

When to See a Doctor over Armpit Lumps

Whether the lump in your armpit is painful or not, seek medical attention in case of the following:

  1. The lump gradually becomes enlarged.
  2. The bump painful or painless.
  3. The lump does not go away after two weeks.
  4. The lump grows back after being removed
  5. The cause of the lump is unknown to you i.e. it is not an injury or a razor bump.

References and Sources

  1. Armpit Lump: http://www.healthline.com/health/armpit-lump#overview1
  2. Picture of the Armpit: http://www.webmd.com/pain-management/picture-of-the-armpit#2
  3. Underarm Cyst: http://healthool.com/underarm-cyst/
  4. Armpit lumps: Causes, diagnosis, and treatment: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/317047.php
  5. Lumps and swellings: http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/lumps-swellings/Pages/Introduction.aspx
  6. Is This Underarm Lump Serious?: Five Ways to Tell: https://www.healthcentral.com/article/is-this-underarm-lump-serious-five-ways-to-tell
  7. Armpit lump: https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/003099.htm
  8. What May Cause Painful Lump in Armpit in Male? https://www.enkiverywell.com/painful-lump-in-armpit-male.html
  9. Armpit lump: http://www.health24.com/Medical/Symptoms/Armpit-lump-Client-20120721
  10. Fibroadenoma: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/fibroadenoma/home/ovc-20319155
  11. Causes Of Swollen Lymph Node In Armpit: Its Symptoms And Treatment: http://www.healthiro.com/infections/swollen-lymph-node-in-armpit.html
  12. What Is A ‘Muscle Knot’ And How To Treat It: http://www.athletico.com/2014/05/01/what-is-a-muscle-knot/
  13. Hyperthyroidism: http://www.healthline.com/health/hyperthyroidism#overview1
  14. Home Remedies for Armpit Lumps: http://www.top10homeremedies.com/home-remedies/home-remedies-for-armpit-lumps.html/3
  15. How To Cure Painful Lump Under Armpits? http://www.home-remedies-for-you.com/blog/sore-lump-armpit.html
  16. Breast Cancer Symptoms: What You Need to Know: https://www.cancer.org/latest-news/breast-cancer-symptoms-what-you-need-to-know.html

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