Lumps in Armpits: Causes, Painful, Small, Big & Relief


Why do I have a lump in my armpit or what is this painful swelling? Does breast cancer, ingrown hair, bacterial infections, allergic reactions, lymphomas, etc. responsible them?

An armpit lump usually refers to the enlargement of at least one of the lymph nodes under your arm. Men and women tend to have them, and they could be small, big, soft, hard (hard lump), painful and painless ones. Let us look at the causes before we go ahead to see a few treatments and home remedies.


If you have them, you deserve to know they can be caused by a number of things. Some of the common causes include the following:

Enlarged lymph gland

The most common cause is enlarged lymph glands. This happens as these lymph nodes try to fight any infections such as bacterial, fungal or viral infections i.e. “they are part of the body's immune system, so may increase in size to fight infection (from a cut on the arm, for example) or indicate infection (cat scratch fever” []

Bacterial Infections

Another commonly known cause is bacterial infections. After armpit shaving, bacteria easily enter the area through the pores. How will you know that? Evidently, there will small painful lump. You can also have sore ones “when infected fluid (pus) collects in the armpit.” [].

Hidradenitis suppurativa – painful common in men

Another possible cause of the painful lump in the armpit in most men but can also affect women is hidradenitis suppurativa “which is “an inflammatory skin disease that affects the apocrine gland-bearing skin in the axillae, in the groin, and under the breasts. It is characterized by recurrent boil-like nodules and abscesses that culminate in pus-like discharge, difficult-to-heal open wounds (sinuses) and scarring” []. It is caused by bacterial infection.

This problem can be treated with various antibiotics both topical and oral taken as advised by a doctor.  Other treatments include antiandrogens, immunomodulatory treatments when severe, surgical management, among treatments.

Abscesses or cysts

Going on with causes, an abscess is the next culprit.  In fact, armpit abscesses produce large painful lumps. These may be caused by shaving or use of antiperspirants (not deodorants). This situation is very common and is experienced by youths in-the-teens who need to remove underarm hairs.

Ingrown hair armpit

Another possible reason for your lumpy underarms is the ingrown hair. Ingrown hair is identified with a painful red lump symptom.

Can Leukaemia (blood cancer) 

This is a disease of the blood cells. Acute leukemia causes its victims to be extremely tired, lose weight, develop nausea, look confused and lose their muscle control. Other common symptoms include swollen lymph nodes, especially in the neck or armpit as shown in these lump in armpit pictures


Viral Infections/HIV-AIDS

Studies have shown that when you capture smallpox, chickenpox, and HIV there is a high probability you develop a lump in armpit not painful “Chickenpox is a Varicella-Zoster virus infection, which spreads by means of respiratory droplets and contact with the blisters.” []

Allergy reactions to vaccination

If you receive a vaccine to build your body immunity system, you shouldn’t be worried seeing swollen lumps under your armpits.  Even at times proved to be such a rare case, some individuals may be allergic to penicillin or iodine.

Fungal infection

A good example of a fungus that can cause lumps this problem is the Sporotrichosis sp. found in vegetation can penetrate through a broken sin such as a bruise, a cut, or an injury.

Breast cancer in female and male 

Breast cancer, as well as cancer the lymph nodes can cause lumps in your armpits. Breast cancer females may lead to the formation of armpit lumps. In response, the infection spreads to the lymph nodes under your armpits.

Does lymphatic system/lymphoma cause them?

Patients who have lymphatic system cancer or lymphoma when it affects the lymphatic systems in your armpits can result in lumps. You will have other symptoms such as chills and temperature swings, persistent coughing, enlarge tonsils, headache, fever common at night, constant itch without cause, general fatigue, unexplained weight loss, breathlessness and low appetite.

In advanced stage, expect to have symptoms such as “enlarged lymph node sometimes causes other symptoms by pressing against a vein (causing swelling of an arm or leg), or against a nerve (causing pain, numbness, or tingling in an arm or leg)” [], pain in lymph nodes especially after taking alcohol, etc.

Breast tissue extension to armpit 


The list of causes is endless.  Breast tissue extending into the armpit (hypreradenia) - big hard lump during pregnancy. “Characteristically they will be less apparent when your breasts are empty of obvious milk at the end of a breastfeeding session.” [] Have a look at it besides.

Fats (Lipomas) and non-cancerous tissue growths

Allergy to certain fats leads to a harmless fibrous tissue growing into a condition known as (fibroadenoma). This will feel like a lump in the underarm.

Lupus or SLE

Lupus or SLE. A disease of joints and organs yet can be responsible for the lumps you have in your underarms.

Painful lump that hurts and is red

If you have a painful lump under armpit, the probable cause could be bacterial infections, fungal infection, and ingrown hair, skin abscess, hidradenitis suppurativa or lymphoma. These are some of the common sore lump in this area. 

In men or male 

Most of the above causes of underarm lump can affect men except those which are associated with breast especially the breast cancer armpit lumps. Bacterial infection, abscesses or cysts, ingrown hair, lymphoma, etc. could be responsible for underarm lumps.

One common cause of a painful one in men is hidradenitis suppurativa which can affect women but more common in men.

Small ones

Small is a description of the size of a lump in armpit one will have. It is possible for most of the above causes to result into a small to pea sized lump to a big underarm lump. Infections, swollen lymph nodes, ingrown hair, among others.

Although abscess and cysts can cause small ones, in most cases, they tend to be bigger in size especially if they are found deep beneath your armpit skin.


In deciding the treatment for your underarm lumps, you must consider what causes it. We are going to look at various treatments bearing in mind what could be behind each case.

Antibiotics for bacterial cause

Use of antibiotics if it is caused by bacteria reduces the build-up of germs. Prescribed drugs such as clindamycin 1% (twice daily) and Oral antibiotics named below cure and relieve pain in armpit lump. Doxycycline, clindamycin, erythromycin, tetracycline are some of the recommended antibiotics. 

Antifungal treatment 

Bumps under your armpits due to a fungal infection have an answer. You can get topical creams and ointments sold over the counter or your doctor may prescribe for you oral anti-fungal drugs. In case of antifungal topical ointments, cream, gel or serums, use them externally.

For cancer – Lymphoma, breast and blood cancer

Once it has been confirmed cancer is the cause of your underarm lump, there are a number of treatments which can be used that include:

Surgical treatment

Surgical cancer treatment involves removal of lymph nodes or Mastectomy and/or Lumpectomy for breast cancer. In lymphoma, usually, a number of armpit lymph nodes are removed through dissection. That is how to best cure these lump effectively, because it determines its spread and limits further growth, simultaneously.


Since cancer causes this problem, as we saw earlier, it is, therefore, a point that if cancer is timely treated and controlled, cases of armpit lump cancer symptoms will go down especially amongst women. Chemotherapist recommends before any diagnosis and subsequent treatments patients be aware of the possible outcomes, and results (side-effects) such as:

  • Diarrhoea,
    • Loss of appetite,
    • Fatigue,
    • Nausea,
    • Vomiting

The various means of administering chemotherapy are as follows:

  • Orally - drugs in the forms of pills/capsule or liquids are ingested and swallowed.
  • IV infusion: This takes few hours.
  • Continuous infusions: an electronic device known as IV pump is used to administers the drugs for a certain short period of time.

Other cancer treatments such as radiation therapy and hormonal therapy might also be recommended by your professional health care.

Underarm lumps due to Lipomas

Surgical excision is needed in the case of Lipomas’ removal or else radiation therapy to kill cancer cells.

Home remedies 

Is it possible to take care of your armpit lumps at home? The answer is, yes!  (DIY) Do it yourself the natural way! While you can find the pain unbearable to walk all the way to seek medication, here are home simple procedures to ease your painful:

Raw honey

Apply honey to any itchy armpit lump that denies you sweet nights. Repeat the action while gently rinsing with warm water with the help of a clean disinfected piece of cloth. (Do this 3 -4 times a day).

Lemon juice

Alternatively, the same case way replace honey with lemon juice. Extract fresh lemon juice and put in a clean bowl. Roll a piece of cotton wool/soft towel into a ball-like. Dip into it and apply to the armpit area while holding for about 15 -20 mins. (3 -4 times for up to 1 week)

Apple Cider Vinegar

Measure take 2 cups of unfiltered apple cider vinegar and water (in equal amounts) Soak a cotton cloth in the solution and apply it to the affected area. Leave it on for 5 minutes, then rinse it off with warm water and pat dry. Repeat the process a few times daily until the lump disappears. Note: raw vinegar should be used in the above description.

To enhance quicker healing, add 1 teaspoonful each of apple cider vinegar and honey to a glass of water and drink. (At least twice each day up to 3 - 4 weeks)

Ice cubes +Brewed Green Tea

To get rid of the painful armpit bumps (causing burning sensation) try this twice daily

  • Brew green tree tea. Prepared small ice cubes.
  • Dip your ice cube in brewed tea and apply on the lump until the ice cube melts. That is it.

Avoid allergens, drug abuse

Besides the DIYs, opt for self-defend mechanisms by avoiding allergens, halt drug abuse when receiving therapy.

Go for balanced diet and supplements

Also, take vitamin food supplements. After consulting a doctor eat a diet rich in foods with vitamin E. Some fruits, vegetables, sunflower seeds, spinach, avocado, olive oil heighten internal body system.


There are no perceptions, beliefs, or opinions of whatsoever kind if you wake up and feel a lump in left armpit. Quickly, see your healthcare provider to put to end tender, warm and red lymph nodes from damage. Do not wait until complex hardened lymph nodes emerge that may be growing to an extent that causes more problems.

Reference and cited works

Related Posts