Armpit Lumps In Women
Armpit lumps can occur in men and women of all ages. However, a lump under the arm could indicate breast cancer. Women should perform monthly breast self-exams and report any breast lumps to a doctor right away.
Note that breasts undergo hormonal changes during the menstrual cycle and may tend to feel more tender or lumpy during this time. This is considered to be completely normal. For the most accurate results, perform breast self-exams about one to three days after your period ends.
Another potential cause of armpit lumps in women, which tend to also occur near the breast and groin regions, is hidradenitis suppurativa. This chronic condition involves clogging and inflammation near apocrine glands of hair follicles in the skin, commonly causing painful boil-like lumps that fill with pus, leak, and possibly even become infected.
Risks for having this condition include tobacco smoking, family history, and obesity. Although the exact cause is not known, it is thought that possibly hormonal changes of puberty and/or the immune system responding too strongly to the hair follicles becoming clogged and irritated. Men can also have hidradenitis suppurativa, but it is much more common in women.
Skin Lumps: When Parents Should Worry
Noticing a skin lump on a child can be scary. Fortunately, most skin lumps are not a major cause for concern.
Noticing a skin lump on a child can be scary for parents, and its easy to automatically assume the worst. Fortunately, most skin lumps are benign and not a major cause for concern, according to Dr. Saeed Awan, a pediatric general and thoracic surgeon at CHOC.
Some children are born with skin lumps, and some lumps appear later. The majority of patients with skin lumps will not have any other symptoms, but they can include pain, bleeding, redness, loss of appetite and night sweats. Surgery is often recommended in order to remove these skin lumps, to avoid the risk of infection.
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Lymph nodes are the most common lumps that parent notice and worry about. Most parents find lymph nodes in the neck area but can also notice them around the ears and at the back of the skull.
A pea-sized, rubbery node beneath the skin is nothing to worry about, says Dr. Awan. Healthy lymph nodes fluctuate in size- they grow and they shrink, but bad lymph nodes keep growing and are not subtle.
A lymph node over one centimeter in diameter needs further investigation by a medical professional, especially when associated with loss of weight or appetite, fever or night sweats.
Painful Armpit Lump Quiz
- Itch or pain
- A hair in the center of the bump curled under the skin
Ingrown hairs occur when the hair itself grows back into the skin. The body sees it as a foreign object and reacts by sending inflammatory cells to the hair. This causes a red or pink bump around the hair, which can be very itchy or painful. Ingrown hairs often occur in people who have thick or coarse hair.
The treatment for ingrown hairs is to stop shaving for several days. Your doctor may prescribe a topical steroid lotion to calm inflammation or perform a quick in-office procedure to clip the hairs out of the bump, which prevents further inflammation. If you often get ingrown hairs, always shave in the direction of hair growth and use a new razor blade each time you shave.
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When Should You See A Doctor About A Lump
Most lumps are harmless and do not need any treatment. However, it is very important to see your GP if:
- The lump feels hard or firm.
- The lump is painful.
- The lump is getting bigger.
- The lump doesn’t completely disappear within two weeks.
- You feel generally unwell with a high temperature or flu-like symptoms.
- You have recently lost weight without trying to diet.
- You have any other unexplained symptoms.
- The lump returns after it has been removed.
What Is A Hard Lump Under Skin
Also known as skin lumps, a hard lump under the skin is an abnormal swelling or growth on or under your skin. Mostly, these are divided into three categories. They are:
- Benign skin lumps These are types of lumps that are harmless and non-cancerous.
- Inflammatory skin lumps These are types of skin lumps that are caused due to a reaction to a substance.
- Malignant skin lumps These are types of skin bumps that are cancerous and require immediate treatment.
Now that you know what hard lumps are, let us look into the ten definitive factors that cause hard lumps.
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Why Is There A Lump In Your Armpit
A painful lump in the armpit may feel odd but its usually not too worrisome. It typically means one of two things: You have a skin infection or your lymph nodes are swollen.
With all the sweat, friction, bacteria, and irritation from shaving and clothing, the armpit is a ripe environment for skin conditions like cysts or ingrown hairs.
Additionally, there are networks of lymph nodes in this area, which can swell up when your body is trying to fight off an infection. Less commonly, lumps can be caused by chronic conditions, like autoimmune diseases or cancer.
If you have a painful armpit lump, you may also have:
- Armpit rash or bumps
- A central opening
- Oozing pus or white cheese-like material
A cyst is a small sac or lump filled with fluid, air, fat, or other material. In the armpit, the most common cyst is an epidermal inclusion cyst. They can be the size of a marble or as big as a tennis ball, in worst cases. There may be a central opening on the cyst. The cyst may ooze a white cheese-like material called keratin and, when infected, pus.
Cysts are not contagious and are usually painless, but they can become infected or inflamed. When infected, they become red and tender, feel warm to the touch, and produce pus, but they rarely cause a fever.
Treatment involves cutting out the cyst. If the cyst cant be seen or isnt bothering you, its OK not to treat it. But if you dont like how the cyst looks or it is large enough to interfere with movement, ask your doctor to remove it.
How Is Folliculitis Treated
Topical antibiotics, oral antibiotics, or antifungal drugs may be used to treat infections associated with folliculitis, depending on the underlying cause. Treatment also involves preventing further damage to the hair follicles. Steps that can help achieve this goal include:
- Minimizing friction from clothing
- Not shaving in the affected area, if possible. If shaving is necessary, use a clean new razor blade or an electric razor each time. Also moisturize the hair before shaving, and shave in the direction of the growth of the hair
- Keeping the area clean
See a photo of what folliculitis looks like.
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When To See A Doctor
In rare cases, an unexplained lump, bump or swelling can be a sign of a more serious issue beneath the skin.
Bumps that are cancerous are typically large, hard, painless to the touch and appear spontaneously. The mass will grow in size steadily over the weeks and months. Cancerous lumps that can be felt from the outside of your body can appear in the breast, testicle, or neck, but also in the arms and legs.
Adult soft tissue sarcoma
One type of cancerous lump that can form almost anywhere in the body is called adult soft tissue sarcoma. The soft tissues of the body include the muscles, tendons , fat, blood vessels, lymph vessels, nerves and the tissues around joints.
Most frequently, though, adult soft tissue sarcoma develops in the legs, arms, chest or the area behind the abdomen called the retroperitoneum, says oncologist Dale Shepard, MD, PhD.
Adult soft tissue sarcoma is a disease in which malignant cells form in the soft tissues of the body, he says. In the early stages, it rarely causes symptoms because the tumors often are located deep in the tissue.
Soft tissue sarcomas can grow to be quite large before causing symptoms because they often are embedded deep in the body, Dr. Shepard says.
Most commonly, soft tissue sarcomas feel like masses or bumps, which may be painful. If the tumor is in the abdomen, it may produce nausea or a sensation of fullness as well as pain, he says.
What Causes Gardners Syndrome
The syndrome is a genetic condition, which means its inherited. The adenomatous polyposis coli gene mediates the production of APC protein. The APC protein regulates cell growth by preventing cells from dividing too fast or in a disorderly way. People with Gardners syndrome have a defect in the APC gene. This leads to abnormal tissue growth. What causes the mutation of this gene has not been determined.
Common symptoms of this condition include:
- growths in the colon
- bony tumors on the skull and other bones
- cysts under the skin
The main symptom of Gardners syndrome is multiple growths in the colon. The growths are also known as polyps. Although the number of growths varies, they can be in the hundreds.
In addition to growths on the colon, extra teeth can develop, along with bony tumors on the skull. Another common symptom of Gardners syndrome is cysts, which can form under the skin on various parts of the body. Fibromas and epithelial cysts are common. People with the syndrome also have a much higher risk of colon cancer.
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When To See Your Gp
You should see your GP if you develop any growth or swelling on your body. They can examine it and confirm what it is and what’s causing it.
If your GP is uncertain, they may recommend that you have an ultrasound scan or a biopsy. Surgery may be needed to remove certain types of lump.
You should also see your GP urgently if you have a lump that:
- is getting bigger
- feels hard
- grows back after it’s been removed
This is usually the type of lump that needs treatment or investigation due to infection or to rule out cancer.
When To Contact A Doctor
While its tempting to self-diagnose arm bumps, its always a good idea to reach out to a doctor for confirmation. You should also contact a doctor if the bumps worsen or change in shape or size.
If you dont already have a dermatologist, the Healthline FindCare tool can help you locate a physician in your area. Make an appointment if you start to see any signs of infection.
Symptoms of a skin infection include:
- increased inflammation
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What Types Of Treatments Are Necessary
Watchful waiting, meaning monitoring instead of treatment, may be the right option for lumps that are likely to go away on their own.
If you need treatment, care may include:
- Antibiotics may be necessary if you have an infection.
- Over-the-counter pain medications and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines relieve discomfort if the lump is painful or the area around it is swollen.
- Removing the lump may be necessary if its due to lipomas, cysts or other skin issues.
What Causes Dermatofibromas
Dermatofibromas are caused by an overgrowth of a mixture of different cell types in the dermis layer of the skin. The reasons why this overgrowth occurs arent known.
The growths often develop after some type of small trauma to the skin, including a puncture from a splinter or bug bite.
In addition to minor skin injuries being a risk for dermatofibroma formation, age is a risk factor. Dermatofibromas occur more commonly in adults who are 20 to 49 years of age.
These benign tumors also tend to be more common in women than men.
Those with a suppressed immune system may be at a higher risk for dermatofibromas to form.
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When Not To Worry
Lumps that are not a cause for concern have some distinctive characteristics.
Not-so-serious lumps usually are:
- Mobile, meaning it moves and changes form when you touch it.
- Located in the superficial or fat layer of skin.
- Grow large and painful with activity, and diminish in size with rest.
Lumps connected to exercise
One major marker is if you can connect the lumps appearance to a specific trauma or activity, says orthopedic surgeon Dr. Mesko. Athletes of all levels experience the occasional bump as a result of exercise, training, competition or other physical activity, he adds.
In that case, we recommend you follow the basic RICE method: rest, ice, compression and elevation, Dr. Mesko says. If, over time, the lump or swelling improves, thats a reassuring sign that it is harmless and nothing to worry about.
One of the most common conditions that cause lumps, bumps or swelling are cysts. Some common cysts include Bakers cysts, a fluid-filled bulge that forms behind the knee and ganglion cysts, rounded lumps filled with a jelly-like fluid that can develop on tendons and joints.
When Should I Be Worried About A Lump Under The Skin
If you are at all concerned about a lump under the skin, dont be afraid to seek medical attention. Certain attributes can lend to a lump being more concerning than others.
A lump that grows and then goes away on its own can usually be attributed to an inflamed cyst, which is normally harmless. A doughy lump is usually associated with a benign lipoma. Likewise, lumps that are harmless can often be accompanied by tenderness, pain, or drainage.
Signs that suggest a lump might be concerning include:
- if it suddenly becomes very hard or feels like a rock under the skin.
- if the lump starts bleeding or becomes a wound.
- if the lump begins growing rapidly.
If a lump is showing any of these symptoms, it should be looked at by a doctor. Likewise, any lumps that are new, growing, or symptomatic should be checked out by a physician.
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What Are Some Signs Of Skin Cancer
The most common types of skin cancer are usually caused by exposure to ultraviolet light. Because of this, areas of the body that are often exposed to sunlight like the face, ears, neck, scalp, and hands can be at a higher risk of developing skin cancer. If skin lesions develop in those areas and have the following characteristics, they should be evaluated by a doctor:
When Should I Worry About A Lump Under The Skin
Medically Reviewed By: Vinod E. Nambudiri, MD
Finding a lump under your skin can be a worrying discovery but lumps under the skin are more often relatively harmless than cancerous.
To help you better understand when to be concerned about a lump under the skin, we talked to Vinod Nambudiri, MD, of Dana-Farbers Center for Cutaneous Oncology.
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Outlook For Armpit Lumps
The outlook for an armpit lump depends on its cause. For example, a lump that stems from a self-limited viral infection will likely eventually go away on its own. However, a lipoma, while harmless, usually does not go away on its own. A dermatologist can help you remove it.
The outlook for an armpit lump caused by cancer depends on a variety of factors, including the stage of cancer and whether the tumors have spread to other parts of the body. For the best chance of recovery, its important you go to your doctor early on for diagnosis and treatment.
Even if you dont think the lump is harmful, its best to contact your doctor for an accurate diagnosis.
Keratoacanthoma And Your Skin
A keratoacanthoma occurs when cells in a hair follicle do not grow normally. The growth may be triggered by a minor skin injury in an area that previously had suffered sun damage. Ultraviolet radiation from sun exposure is the biggest risk factor in keratoacanthomas.
A keratoacanthoma usually will appear on sun-damaged skin as a thick growth that has a central crusted plug.
Keratoacanthomas appear most often in people who are over the age of 60 and they are considered a low-grade skin cancer.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Dermatofibromas
Apart from the bumps on the skin, dermatofibromas rarely cause additional symptoms. The growths can range in color from pink to reddish to brown.
They are usually between 7 and 10 millimeters in diameter, although they can be smaller or larger than this range.
Dermatofibromas are also usually firm to the touch. They can also be mildly sensitive to the touch, although most dont cause symptoms.
The growths can occur anywhere on the body but appear more often on exposed areas, such as the legs and arms.
A diagnosis is usually made during a physical exam. A trained dermatologist can usually identify a growth through a visual examination, which may include dermatoscopy.
Typically, dermatofibromas are chronic and dont spontaneously resolve on their own. Because they are harmless, treatment is usually solely for cosmetic reasons.
Treatment options for dermatofibromas include:
On Your Wrist Foot Or Ankle
Feels like: A soft, fluid-filled bump that doesn’t move and might increase and decrease in size periodically.Could be: A ganglion cyst, caused by a buildup of leaking joint fluid.Possible treatment: “We typically leave these alone unless they become painful, interfere with joint function or are really unsightly,” Wollner says, in which case he refers the patient to a surgeon. The surgeon may drain the cyst with a needle or, if it’s persistent, remove it surgically.
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