Lump in Armpit

Last reviewed by Dr.Mary on October 3rd, 2018.

A lump under the armpit is normally an amplification of one or more of the lymphatic nodes which are located under the arm. It is recognised by many names, such as axillary abscess, axillary lymphadenopathy as well as others. The armpit lump is very often uncomfortable and annoying. It can in some cases cause extreme pain even when it is touched lightly. This can in some extreme cases excludes a person from actually wearing clothes comfortably. The way to lead a comfortable and healthy life once again is to find out or diagnose the cause and have that cause treated effectively.

Lump in Armpit Causes

In the majority of cases, the object behind the development of a lump in the armpit is the action of diverse microorganisms, in live as well as attenuated forms. This can in the case of some people be the consequence of an allergic response to deodorants, or scented soaps or powders.


Many types of bacteria can cause infections which are localised in the breast or arm and can drain into glands positioned underarms. This causes infections which lead to the lumps under the armpit. For instance, Bartonella henselae is a bacterium that can cause swollen lymph nodes under the armpit. It mostly spreads by the bite of a cat. Therefore, this specific infection is often referred to as cat scratch disease. This is just one example of many other bacteria which can cause infections and cause lumps under the arms.


Numerous viruses can also be liable for the lumps under the armpit. Infectious mononucleosis is one of these viral infections that may cause a lump under the armpit. The causal virus is the Epstein-Barr virus. This normally affects 15 to 17 year olds. The symptoms which are usual for this infection are a sore throat, fever, as well as swollen lymph glands. An example of one more infection caused by a virus which can cause lumps under the armpits is chicken pox. This is begun by the varicella zoster virus and is quite highly infectious in nature. After this virus for chicken pox enters the body it rarely gets eliminated entirely. It will exist in an inactive status in the cells of the nerves of the body. There it remains dormant and will wait for favorable conditions. These favourable conditions usually include weakened immunity, stress, etc. Under these conditions, the virus becomes stimulated and goes to the site that specific nerve supplies. It grows, replicates and an infection develops. When the armpit is the part of the body which is supplied by the nerve shielding the virus, then it can result in a lump under the armpit.


Infection caused by fungi can also cause lumps under the arm. One example of a fungal infection is Sporotrichosis. This is a skin infection caused by the fungus Sporothrix schenckii. It is found on thorns of the rose, twigs, hay, sphagnum moss as well as soil. This is why it is most common among individuals who are gardeners.

Lump in Armpit Treatment

If the lump in the armpit caused by a viral infection, it will go away on its own with any treatment. But, if an allergy causes it, it will only go away when the trigger is removed. For lumps under the arm caused by breast tissue which is normal such as a cyst, it needs no treatment unless it is bothersome to the individual. The same is true of a lump caused by lipoma which is harmless unless it grows too large to be comfortable.

The outlook for lumps which are cancerous depends on the specific type of cancer. Some of the more common ones which cause lumps under the arm include:

  • Hodgkin’s lymphoma
  • Breast cancer
  • Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
  • Leukaemia

Lump in armpit Pictures

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