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What Can Cause Armpit Lymph Node Swelling?

The Anatomy Of The Armpit And Armpit Lymph Nodes

The Armpit Lymph Nodes are medically termed as axillary lymph nodes and belong to the class of lymph nodes that are always predisposed to swelling. There may be many causes for Armpit Lymph Node Swelling ranging from minor injuries to a host of infections or some serious medical conditions like cancer metastasis. Apart from this, any disorder of the surrounding organs may also cause Armpit Lymph Node Swelling.

Lymph nodes are an important part of the lymphatic system of the body and play a crucial role in fighting off infections and trapping bacteria and viruses and prevent the body from illnesses. The lymph nodes of the groin, neck, and armpit are more at risk for swelling due to various causes.

What Can Cause Armpit Lymph Node Swelling?

What Can Cause Armpit Lymph Node Swelling?

The causes of Armpit Lymph Node Swelling can be divided into two groups of which one is local and the other is systemic causes.

Local Causes of Armpit Lymph Node Swelling Are:

  • Trauma or injury to the armpit region, or the hand or arm
  • An infection to the armpit region or in the surrounding structures like the arm, hand, or the breasts which may drain to the armpits can cause armpit lymph node swelling.
  • Cat Scratch Disease is yet another cause of Armpit Lymph Node Swelling. This condition is caused by a cat scratch or a cat bite. Cats carry a bacterium called Bartonella henselae which does not affect the cat but may affect the individual if he or she is bitten by the infected cat.
  • Tumor in or around the armpit lymph node can also be a cause.
  • Lymphoma is yet another disease that may cause Armpit Lymph Node Swelling.
  • Breast Cancer with metastasis to the surrounding lymph nodes may also cause swelling of the Armpit Lymph Node.
  • Melanoma which is a type of skin cancer is yet another cause of swollen armpit lymph node.
  • Another condition called as Mediterranean Fever can also cause armpit lymph node swelling and is caused due to a bacteria infection spread from animals like goats, cows, pigs to humans when they come in contact with an infected animal or eating or drinking unpasteurized milk
  • Artificial breast implants such as a silicone breast implant may trigger a foreign body allergic reaction and cause this condition.
  • Certain Perfumes, deodorants or undergoing cosmetic procedures like hair removal from the armpit may also predispose an individual towards having swollen armpit lymph node.

Systemic Causes of Armpit Lymph Node Swelling Are:

  • Systemic causes of lymph node enlargement may be involved in causing swelling of the axillary lymph nodes before more generalized lymph node involvement becomes apparent.
  • Viral infections like Epstein-Barr virus, cytomegalovirus, chickenpox, shingles, measles, and rubella tend to cause armpit lymph node swelling.
  • Bacterial infections like Cat scratch disease as mentioned above, Lymphadenitis which is an infection of the lymph nodes or a complication of certain bacterial infections, and
  • Tuberculosis may also cause armpit lymph node swelling.
  • Fungal infections like Sporotrichosis which is a chronic skin infection caused by fungus found in certain type of vegetations like rose bushes can also cause this condition.
  • Armpit Lymph Node Swelling may also be a side effect of some of the vaccinations like those given for MMR, Typhoid, and Small Pox
  • Malignancy is yet another cause and certain malignant diseases like Hodgkin’s lymphoma, Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, leukemia or blood cancer, breast cancer, lung cancer, and melanoma can cause swelling of the armpit lymph node.
  • Allergic reaction to certain sulfur medications like penicillin.


  1. Cleveland Clinic – Swollen Lymph Nodes: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/symptoms/21181-swollen-lymph-nodes
  2. American Cancer Society – Lymph Nodes and Cancer: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancer-basics/lymph-nodes-and-cancer.html
  3. MedlinePlus – Lymphadenitis: https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/001353.htm
  4. National Cancer Institute – Hodgkin Lymphoma: https://www.cancer.gov/types/lymphoma/patient/adult-hodgkin-treatment-pdq

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:July 26, 2023

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