common causes of armpit paincommon causes of armpit pain

Armpit pain could be both annoying and alarming. It brought nothing, but discomfort and anxiety to people experiencing this. It’s either a consequence for overworking or a symptom for a more serious health condition. Sure enough that none of us want the latter. None of us want armpit pain in general, at all.

The common causes of armpit pain are muscle strain, swollen lymph nodes due to either infection or allergy reaction, breast cancer, contact dermatitis, shingles, Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD), and angina. Read more about them below.

Seven (7) Common Causes of Armpit Pain

1. Muscle Strain

Muscle strain is one of the most common causes of armpit pain. If you’re an athlete or a gym person, then you’re probably used to it already. Especially, if you’re into weightlifting where you always have to challenge yourself beyond your limit in order to either win or outgrew yourself. Whatever the reason may be, it’s important to take consideration of your well-being.

The large chest muscle that runs up into our shoulder is called pectoralis major. The coracobrachialis, on the other hand, is a muscle in the upper arm that is prone to strain, as well, especially during sports like tennis and baseball. You might wonder how all these muscles are related to your possible armpit pain right now when they’re not directly affecting the underarms at all. Well, armpit is only in between. It’s the fold that connects the two. That explains why.

How are we supposed to prevent muscle strain, especially underarms, from occurring?

Stretching. We are taught that before engaging ourselves into heavy duty activites, like sports or gym routine, we should prepare our bodies for it first. Stretching comes first in everything. It is a must, so that our bodies would react responsively to what that physical activity may be. It’s like eating your breakfast first before starting your day.

How would we know if the pain underarms is due to a muscle strain?

It’s quite easy to figure out if the armpit pain is due to a muscle strain or not. First, consider all the things you’ve done today. Did you lift heavy objects? exhausted yourself? and feel pain around your back, upperarms, and shoulders? Next, notice if there’s an existing painful lump in your armpits. Armpit lumps can be an indication of a muscle strain. If the answers to all the questions above are yes, then you probably (and unfortunately) fell into the depth of strain! (I’m exaggerating!)

How would you treat a muscle strain?

Always be reminded of RICE.

R-est. Give your strain a break from lifting objects. Let it rest ’til it repairs the damaged muscles on its own. Next,

I-ce. It’s important to ice the injury for at least 20 minutes every 2 to 3 hours for consecutively 3 days or more.

C-ompression. Give your strain a compression.

E-Elavation. Position your arms just above your head when sleeping to make sure your lymph nodes won’t swell on its own.

2. Swollen lymph nodes

Our lymphatic system is a group of interconnected lymph nodes or glands that can be found throughout the body. Lymph nodes produce fluid that fight against infection, that’s also one of the reasons why armpits are sensitive and prone to all sort of reactions, like allergy and chemical burn.

What are the causes of swollen lymph nodes underarms?


Lymphedema occurs when there’s an evident clog in a lymph node that temporarily stop the lymph nodes from producing fluid, this is the possible reason why fluid inside builds up that causes it to swell. The swelling will surely be painful, as well, due to the axillary nerve found underarms. It’s the main reason why armpits are sensitive, too.


Our lymph nodes underarms are the ones responsible for producing fluid against infection, that’s the reason why blockage in a lymph node is a complete nuisance. It prevents the nodes from protecting itself against infection that might eventually turn into lymphadenopathy or enlarged nodes if not cured immediately.

What are the other reasons behind swollen lymph nodes that might lead to armpit pain?


Bacterial skin infection brings discomfort underarms due to the amount of pain, irritation, and swelling an individual might experience because of it. On the other hand, other skin infections might be due to a fungus or a chronic medical condition known as hidradenitis suppurativa.

Hidradenitis suppurativa resembles an acne that can cause scars and boils underarms. It may contain blood or pus. Anti-inflammatory, acne-fighting medications, and antibiotics are the common treatment for this to reduce inflammation and pain. If severe, surgery is necessary.


Shaving our armpit hair might cause armpit pain if not properly done, either due to one’s ineffectiveness to shave properly or one’s ignorance about the high qualities razors for armpit shaving today. Either way, it’s important to be extra careful when shaving your armpits to avoid skin inflammation and swollen lymph nodes. If you’ve experienced razor burn already, which I doubt that you haven’t yet, you probably noticed tiny lumps or ingrown hair in your armpits.

If you’re using deodorant and antiperspirant, razor burn is surely a huge dilemma. If you’re experiencing this right now, make sure to wear loose or sleeveless shirts to avoid painful contact with the lumps underarms. Perspiration might make your razor burn more painful, so watch out!

3. Breast Cancer

The reason why most women only discover they have a breast cancer when their condition is already severe is because the symptoms and early stages are usually painless. If diagnosed with breast cancer, you might notice painful lumps around your armpit area. This is probably the main reason, as well, to why people confuse noncancerous armpit lumps with cancerous cysts, making people more anxious.

What are the treatment for breast cancer that affects lymph nodes?

If you’re diagnosed with breast cancer and armpit lump is proven to be one of your symptoms, there might be affected lymph nodes around your armpit area that has to be removed through either surgical procedure, chemotherapy, or radiation.

What are the signs and symptoms of breast cancer?

We should never resort with self-diagnosis, for this may only cause us anxiety, but that does not mean we should disregard the possible signs and symptoms of breast cancer as well, for knowing this early should always be every women’s top priority.

Here are some of the signs and symptoms of breast cancer:

– Changes in the shape and size of the breast

– Occurrence of pean d’orange or the dimpling of the breast skin

– lumps around the breast and armpit area

How would I prevent breast cancer from occurring?

There’s no proven way on how we will able to prevent breast cancer from occurring, aside from getting annual mammogram to get diagnosed early. Make sure to perform a monthly breast self-exams, especially upon noticing a new lump around your armpit area to make sure you’re in no immediate call of medical attention.

4. Contact Dermatitis

Contact dermatitis is an allergy reaction, an itchy and inflamed rashes to be specific, caused by deodorants and other armpit products.

How would I cure my contact dermatitis?

If you’re using deodorant and antiperspirant to solve either your armpit odor or excessive sweating dilemma, and you’ve noticed your armpit undesirable reaction against it, make sure to quit using it immediately. If you’re worried of what might happen to your underarms if you choose to discontinue all the products that triggers your allergy, be reminded that you can always make yourself a natural one that do not contain all the active ingredients that caused you your contact dermatitis. Do not endure the pain underarms!

There are also available anti-itch treatments like hydrocortisone cream that you could try to help reduce the inflammation.

5. Shingles

Shingles is a skin condition that causes armpit pain. This is an infection from a virus known as varicella-zoster, also responsible for chicken pox, that causes discomfort due to its scaly, burning, and tingling rashes underarms.

What are the signs of shingles?

If you feel tingling sensation, burning, itchy in your armpit area with presence of blisters and pus around it, not to mention intense pain before it begin to develop rash all over your armpits, then it might be shingles. Immediately consult your doctor to know if you’re in need of antiviral, anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving medication.

What are the treatment for shingles?

Antiviral drugs

Antiviral drugs will keep the symptoms under control while reducing the inflammation and possible spread of rashes.

Numbing creams or drugs

Numbing creams are used to relieve pain when the armpit pain is unbearable.

How would I prevent shingles from occurring?

Vaccination might be the solution to prevent this from occurring. Since shingles came from the virus responsible for chicken pox occurrence, the chicken pox vaccination may work perfectly to reduce the chances of getting shingles, if not completely prevented.

Other than vaccination, consider the greatest defense of all: practice good hygiene.

6. Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD)

Peripheral Artery Disease or PAD is a serious health condition diagnosed when there’s narrowing of the smaller arteries, both arms and legs involved, that causes scarcity of oxygenated blood, making it hard for muscles and tissues to function accordingly. Oxygen-starved muscles causes intense pain, and this will be felt underarms, as well.

What are the symptoms of Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD)?

These are the common symptoms of PAD:

– Your body temperature is low compare to your usual body temperature.

– Aching/burning pain (arms and underarms)

– Cramps

– If you’re prone to infections

How would I prevent PAD from occurring?

There is a way to prevent PAD from occurring, and that’s to improve your lifestyle. The buildip of plaque is caused largely by cholesterol intake, excessive fats in the body, and calcium. Have a healthy lifestyle.

7. Angina

Angina is due to severe chest pain because of a temporary depletion in blood flow that reduces the amount of oxygenated blood, causing oxygen-starved muscle. If you have angina, you’re likely experience armpit pain too due to chest pain.

What are the symptoms of angina?

Here are the common symptoms of angina:

– dizziness or fatigue

– breathing difficulties

– chest, jaw, and neck pain

– abnormal perspiration

– nausea

– abdominal pain

How would you treat Angina?

In order to treat angina, you have to treat the underlying condition first behind it. Live a healthy lifestyle to treat this complication, and that include regulating high blood pressure, lowering cholesterol, treating diabetes, participating in outdoor activities, and quitting habits that cause you breathing difficulties, like smoking.

Final Thoughts

Armpit pain is usually harmless, but it’s always advisable to take a closer look into it to make sure you’re in no need of an immediate call of medical attention. Live a healthy lifestyle and take good care of your pits!

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