A lump in the groin, neck or armpit is an ingrowth usually is a sign swollen lymph nodes, that tend to occur due to some infection or inflammation of the region in which it arises. It usually manifests itself through one or more lumps under the skin of the neck, head or groin, which may or may not be painful, and usually last between 3 and 30 days.
This happens because the lymph nodes are small structures that are part of the immune system and act as filters for substances or microorganisms, helping to fight infections because they attack and destroy the germs that are transported by lymphatic fluid.
The presence of a lump in the groin, neck or armpit is also called adenopathy lymphadenopathy, which most often represents a mild and transient inflammation. When the lump persists more than 1 month, grows more than 2 cm or there are several scattered around the body they may be caused by more serious diseases such as cancer or autoimmune diseases. Learn more about swollen lymph nodes in other body parts.
1. Skin inflammation
Any type of inflammation can cause this lump because the nodes work as a filter against possible threats to the body. It is common for swollen lymph nodes to appear due to irritations on the skin by the use of chemicals such as deodorant, or by a small wound that occurs after hair removal, folliculitis, by ingrown hair or cuts that occur on a daily basis, in various parts of the body.
Inflammations that occur in the airways or oral region, such as allergic rhinitis, pharyngitis, gingivitis or a tooth inflammation, for example, are also important causes of enlarged lymph nodes.
Any type of infection causes an ingrowth, and some of the most common are colds, flu, otitis, sinusitis, pharyngitis or any type of virus such as Zika or dengue, for example, that cause swollen lymph nodes in the neck, nape, jaw or behind the ear.
Other types of infection such as pneumonia and bronchitis can also cause swollen armpit lymph nodes, and infections in the abdominal region such as gastroenteritis, genital HPV, syphilis, candidiasis, or vaginosis, and leg or foot injuries can cause swollen groin lymph nodes.
3. Autoimmune diseases
The diseases that interfere with the immune system can cause swelling of the lymph nodes. Some examples are lupus, arthritis, vasculitis and inflammatory bowel disease.
Cancer is a rare cause of swollen lymph nodes, which can appear anywhere in the body and have a more hardened appearance, that do not disappear after 1 or 2 months and do not stop growing. Any type of cancer can cause swollen lymph nodes, but some are prone to the development of this swelling they are lymphoma, breast cancer and lung cancer, for example.
When to go to the doctor
The lump in the groin, neck or armpit becomes a concern, indicating more serious diseases, such as cancer, lymphoma or tuberculous lymph nodes, for example when:
- It is located in the arms or around the clavicle;
- It is spread throughout various parts of the body;
- It measures more than 2,5 cm;
- It is hard and does not move;
- It doesn’t improve after 1 month;
- It is accompanied by a fever that does not improve in 1 week, night sweats, weight loss or malaise.
In this situation, it is necessary to seek a general practitioner, so that blood tests are done to evaluate possible infections or inflammation in the body. When doubt persists, biopsy of the lymph node may be requested, which will show if it has benign or malignant features.
How to treat swollen lymph nodes
To treat swollen lymph nodes, it is recommended you rest and keep yourself hydrated, as well as identifying and eliminating what is causing it, since it’s not necessary to take any specific type of medication to treat it. When the infection or inflammation is cured, the swollen lymph node will disappear, since it is just the body's response against a foreign aggressive agent.
Painkillers or anti-inflammatory drugs can relieve pain or sensitivity in the area. A good home remedy is to drink eucalyptus tea and use clay compresses as they help to decrease swelling and strengthen the body's defenses.