Swollen Lymph Node in Groin: 12 Causes & What to Do

A swollen lymph node in the groin can be caused by inflammation or infections in the pelvic or genital region. It is usually a sign of the immune system trying to fight off a virus, fungus or bacteria, but lymph node swelling can also occur with autoimmune diseases and cancer. 

Depending on the underlying cause, swollen lymph nodes in the groin can be accompanied by other symptoms, such as sensitivity with palpation, pus, fever, weight loss for no apparent reason and night sweats. 

It is important to see a doctor if the swollen lymph node in the groin does not resolve with time or if you experience other additional symptoms. The doctor will assess the lymph node, as well as others in the body, and indicate treatment as necessary. 

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Swollen lymph nodes in the groin are most commonly caused by: 

1. Skin inflammation

Skin inflammation in the groin area can lead to swollen lymph nodes. They can appear as a result of skin irritation from chemical substances (like soaps or deodorants) or from small wounds, folliculitis or an ingrown hair. 

What to do: You can apply a warm compress to the area three times per day and wash the area thoroughly with warm water and a mild soap. Depending on the cause, a dermatologist can prescribe antibiotic ointments. 

2. Yeast infection

A yeast infection is caused by Candida albicans fungus, which is associated with symptoms like intense itching, redness and white discharge. This infection can also cause a swollen lymph node in the groin to appear, as an immune response to fight the infection. 

Yeast infections are most common in women, and are generally caused by an imbalance in vaginal flora from stress, pregnancy or a weakened immune system. However, it can also occur in men, due to poor hygiene habits, untreated diabetes or autoimmune diseases.

What to do: You should see a doctor for assessment and treatment as necessary. Treatment may involve antifungal pills or ointments, like miconazole, itraconazole or fluconazole. Check out these home remedies for yeast infections that can help to speed-up recovery, as well as the candida diet that you can incorporate into your lifestyle while undergoing treatment. 

3. Bacterial vaginosis

Bacterial vaginosis is a vaginal infection caused by Gardnerella vaginalis bacteria, which overgrows in the presence of imbalance vaginal flora. This condition is associated with symptoms like intense itching, burning during urination, a fishy vaginal smell and white or gray discharge. 

In addition, bacterial vaginosis can lead to swollen lymph nodes in the groin area. 

What to do: Treatment for bacterial vaginosis is monitored by a gynecologist, who may prescribe medication like metronidazole in the form of ointments, pills or vaginal suppositories.

4. Balanitis 

Balanitis is an inflammation of the head of the penis that is often caused by Candida albicans fungus. It can also occur as a result of a bacterial infection, or due to an allergy. 

The most common symptoms of balanitis are redness, itching and swelling at the head of the penis, as well as swollen lymph nodes in the groin. 

What to do: Men are advised to consult a urologist to identify the underlying cause of balanitis. Treatment may involve improving hygiene habits, using cotton-based underwear, and ointments as necessary. The doctor may opt to prescribe corticosteroids, antibiotics or antifungals if needed. 

4. Prostatitis

A swollen lymph node in a man’s groin can emerge due to prostatitis. This condition is characterized by a bacterial infection, from Escherichia coli, Klebsiella spp or Proteus spp,  bacteria. Inflammation can also be caused by injury or surgery in the area. 

In addition to lymph node swelling prostatitis can also cause symptoms like pain with urination, decreased urine stream, pain between the scrotum and rectum, and the presence of blood in the urine and/or sperm. 

What to do: Treatment for prostatitis should be monitored by a urologist, who may indicate the use of analgesic or anti-inflammatory medications to relieve symptoms, and antibiotics to treat the infection.

6. Sexually transmitted infections

STIs, like genital herpes, chlamydia, syphilis, gonorrhea or HIV can lead to swollen lymph nodes in the groin. This occurs due to the accumulation of fluid in the lymph nodes in an attempt to remove the virus and bacteria from the area to resolve the infection.

Generally, swollen lymph nodes in the groin from STIs can also be accompanied by symptoms like discharge, itching, fever, pain and burning with urination. 

What to do: You should consult a doctor if you suspect you may have contracted an STI. The doctor will order testing and initiate treatment depending on the results. 

7. Monkeypox

Monkeypox is an infection caused by a virus in the Orthopoxvirus family. It is associated with symptoms like skin wounds and blisters that itch, fever and chills. Some people may also experience swollen lymph nodes in the groin, as well as pain and swelling in the penia and anal area.  

Monkeypox can be transmitted from person to person through contact with respiratory secretions, through direct contact with blister fluid, through contact with contaminated objects or through contact during sex with lesions in the genital area. 

What to do: You should consult a family doctor or infectious disease specialist to confirm a diagnosis and start treatment with antivirals (like tecovirimat). The doctor can also recommend acetaminophen to help relieve symptoms. Patients are advised to remain in isolation to prevent transmitting the disease to others. 

8. Jock itch

Jock itch, or tinea cruris, is a fungal infection of the skin. It usually affects the skin in the groin and pubic area and is associated with an itchy red rash. It can also cause blisters in the area or swollen lymph nodes along the groin. 

This fungal infection is caused mainly by Trichophyton rubrum and Trichophyton mentagrophytes fungi that can multiply on the skin due to excessive sweating, hot clothing and inadequate hygiene. Diabetes and a compromised immune system are also risk factors in developing jock itch. 

What to do: Treatment for jock itch should be oriented by a dermatologist, who may indicate antifungal ointments or pills, like miconazole, clotrimazole or terbinafine. In addition, you should keep the genital area clean and dry, and avoid using very tight clothing. 

9. Lymphoma

Swollen lymph nodes in the groin can be a result of lymphoma, which is a type of cancer the affects the lymph nodes. It can lead to swelling or lumps in the groin, which persist for longer than 2 months and continuously grow. 

Generally, this type of cancer presents with other symptoms, like fever, night sweats, fatigue and weight loss for no apparent reason. 

What to do: You should consult a family doctor, hematologist or oncologist for testing with bloodwork, CT scan or a PET scan. These will help to identify the type of lymphoma present and will guide the most appropriate treatment. Treatment typically involves chemotherapy or radiation therapy. 

10. Autoimmune diseases

Autoimmune disease, like lupus or rheumatoid arthritis can significantly affect the immune system. Defense cells can start to accumulate in the lymph nodes, leading to swelling and reactive lymph nodes. 

In these cases, swollen lymph nodes can appear in many areas of the body in addition to the groin, Other common symptoms include muscle pain, nausea and night sweats. 

What to do: If you suspect you may have an autoimmune disease, you are advised to see a family doctor or rheumatologist for testing and treatment as necessary. 

11. Ganglionar tuberculosis

Ganglionar tuberculosis is an infectious disease caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacteria. It can lead to swollen lymph nodes in the groin, as well as in the neck, chest or armpits.

This type of tuberculosis is most common in people infected with HIV, and women between 20 and 40 years of age. 

What to do: You should consult a lung specialist, infectious disease specialist or family doctor, who may advise antibiotics, like rifampicin, isoniazide or pyrazinamide for at least 6 months. 

12. Bacterial cellulitis

Bacterial cellulitis is a skin infection caused by Staphylococcus or Streptococcus bacteria that contaminate wounds and penetrate the deepest layers of the skin. It can occur in the groin area if a wound, cut, bug bite or skin condition (like eczema or dermatitis) are present. 

This type of infection typically causes swelling, pain, heat in the area, redness, fever, chills and weakness. 

What to do: Treatment for bacterial cellulitis is oriented by a family doctor with antibiotics, either oral or IV, depending on severity.