The thought of discovering something, but having no idea of what it might be is quite frightening. Imagine, you’re busy shaving your armpit hair when you suddenly felt a lima bean shaped lump underarms, either painful or not, and have no idea of where it came from and of why you have it? Wait, was it cancerous? That sure screams anxiety!
Armpit lumps is an enlarged lymph nodes under your skin. It is an oval-shaped lumps that play essential role in our body’s immune system. The common causes of armpit lumps are cyst, infection, fibroadenoma, hidradenitis suppurativa, allergy reactions, severe reaction to vaccinations, breastfeeding, or irritation due to shaving and/or antiperspirant. It can indicate a serious health condition, but it’s harmless most of the time.
What is an Armpit Lump?
Armpit lumps are enlarged lymph nodes. It is an oval-shaped bump that you can feel under the skin. If you’ve discovered lumps underarms, it’s best to perform palpation first to figure out the consistency and texture of the lump. If you did not feel any pain, immediately see your doctor. Most armpit lumps are result of abnormal tissue growth, it’s usually harmless. Yet, of course, it’s best to consult your doctor first to make sure you do not need an immediate medical response.
What is a Lymph Node?
Lymph nodes are one of the most important part of our immune system. It is small, oval-shaped structures that can be found in our symphatic system. If our immune system responds strongly to the hair follicle that can be found on our armpits, it is most like to get irritated, and that’s when it will start to turn into a painful and swollen lump.
What are the common causes of Armpit Lumps?
There are a lot of possible causes of armpit lumps, but the common causes are:
1. Bacterial or viral infection
4. Hidradenitis Suppurativa
5. Allergic Reactions
6. Reaction to Vaccinations
7. Fungal Infection
8. Breast Cancer
9. Symphoma (cancer of the symphatic system)
10. Leukemia (cancer of the blood cells)
Be reminded that armpit lumps are harmless most of the time, so serious health condition like cancer mentioned to numbers nine and ten are rare occurrences. If you’re an expectant mother with armpit lumps, on the other hand, rest assured that it will go away weeks or months after your delivery. If it does not go away, that’s when it’s advisable to consult a doctor.
If you’re a man or a woman of all ages, it’s possible for you to get armpit lumps regardless of your gender. So, don’t look at lumps as if its target victims are only this particular gender because that’s not how armpit lumps work. It can occur to anyone of all genders. However, since a lump can indicate a serious health condition, women should perform breast-self exams to make sure their armpit lumps are non-cancerous.
Yet, of course, do not conclude you have breast cancer immediately for discovering a lump on your armpits because that will only cause you anxiety. It’s always the best to consult a physician first. Remember, our breasts undergo hormonal changes during our menstrual cycle, and lumps are completely normal unless otherwise stated.
What are Hidradenitis Suppurativa?
Hidradenitis Suppurativa is a chronic condition that involves clogging inflammation near apocrine glands of hair follicles on the armpit skin. This condition causes painful armpit lumps that are filled with pus, leak, and infection.
How are we going to diagnose Armpit Lumps? What are the Diagnostic Tests for Armpit Lumps?
1. Physical Examination
It is important to perform physical examination when diagnosing an armpit lump to know exactly its roots. This is where you’ll figure out, as well, the appropriate approach toward treating your armpit lumps. The results of your physical examination will enable your doctor to know what further testing you needed to either treat infection, allergic reaction, or cancerous changes.
Palpation is an example of physical examination. This is what we usually do when performing a breast self-exam. Gently touch your armpit skin to check if there’s a lump under your skin. We do this to determine the consistency and texture of the armpit lump. If your armpit lump is a lima bean shaped and tender, this is said to be harmless. If a swollen lymph node felt firm and rounded, it could potentially be cancerous. Yet, of course, this is supported by the other possible symptoms, so make sure to take note of those. Consulting your doctor first is a must!
2. Pain Tolerance
Were your armpit lumps painful? This is one of the question that your doctor will raise once you’ve decided to go for a consultation. Usually, if your armpit lump is painful, there’s another cause to why it’s painful. Most of the time it’s due to inflammation and infection. This kind of armpit lumps cause both pain and tenderness, however, cancerous lumps appear to be painless. This is more concerning than painful.
3. Complete Blood Count
This is to measure the number of platelets, red blood cells, and white blood cells in your system.
4. Magnetic Resonance Imaging
This is an imaging test that uses radio waves. This will also allow your doctor to see the lump better. This is typically used to diagnose issues with your breast, brain, joints, wrists, ankles, heart, and blood vessels.
5. Computed Tomography scans (CT scan)
This is a form of X-raying that is typically used for bone fractures, tumors, cancer monitoring, finding internal bleeding.
6. Axillary Lymph Node Biopsy
This involves getting rid of the small piece of tissue or the lump for testing. This is to further test if the lumps are cancerous or not.
7. Allergy Testing
Armpit lumps could be due to an allergy, so it’s best to do allergy testing to make sure. If your armpit lump is due to an allergy, rest assured that it will subside once treated with medication.
Armpit lumps treatment differs to its underlying cause. For example, a bacterial infection can be treated with oral antibiotics. Allergy, like what I mentioned above, would subside once you start taking your medication. Armpit lumps due to Lipomas, Viral Infections, and Fibroadenoma need no treatment.
If in any case, your armpit lump is cancerous, prepare yourself for chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and/or surgery.
An expectant mother usually have armpit lumps, so you do not have worry much about your lumps if you’re pregnant, but of course, it’s always best to consult your physician first to make sure your lumps bring no harm to your child.
What does a cancer lumps in the armpit feels like?
Lima bean shaped armpit lumps are normal enlarged lymph nodes. It might be cancerous if the lymph node feels hard and rounded, far from its tender and lima bean shaped form. In addition, it might be a cancerous lump if it’s painless.
Armpit lumps are usually harmless, so before you react negatively about it, make sure you test yourself first. Does it hurt? What’s the texture of your lump? Was it tender? Make sure to take note of those things. It’s normal to feel anxious about something we are not familiar with, especially with armpit lumps who appear out of nowhere. Yet, it’s best to act calmly as much as possible to avoid further complications.
If you’ve noticed, I did not only mention the importance of consulting to a doctor once, I mentioned it a lot of times. We should always be extra careful, and of course, smarter.
Armpit lumps are usually harmless! It does not completely indicate harm. All the mentioned health conditions above are all rare circumstances, so, it’s best not to conclude. Self-monitor and self-examine yourself regularly. If you have armpit lumps today and it did not go away after a week or two, go see a doctor.