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What can cause swollen lymph nodes in the neck, groin or armpit

A lump in the groin, neck or armpit is an ingrowth, which is the enlargement of lymph nodes, which usually happens due to some infection or inflammation of the region in which it arises. It 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 is 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 or lymph node disease, 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.

Main causes for a lump in the groin, neck or armpit

Lymph nodes are scattered across various regions of the body, but are generally perceived as lumps under the skin in the most superficial regions, such as the neck, armpits, groin or jaw, for example. The most common causes are:

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.
 

2. Infections

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 lymph nodes in the neck, nape, jaw or behind the ear.

Other types of infection such as pneumonia and bronchitis can also cause 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 groin lymph nodes.

3. Auto-immune diseases

The diseases that interfere with the immune system can cause swelling of the lymph nodes, some example are lupus, arthritis, vasculitis and inflammatory bowel disease.

4. Cancer

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.
 

What can cause swollen lymph nodes in the neck, groin or armpit

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;
  • Measures more than 2,5 cm;
  • It is hard and does not move;
  • Does not 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 maintain yourself hydrated, as well as identifying and eliminating what is causing it, since it is 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 on the area. A good home remedy is to take eucalyptus tea and use clay patches as they help to decrease swelling and strengthen the body's defenses.

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