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Swollen nodes under arm: Swollen lymph nodes – Symptoms and causes

When Your Child Has Swollen Lymph Nodes

Lymph nodes help the body’s immune
system fight infection. These nodes are found all over the body. Lymph nodes can swell
to illness or infection. They can also swell for unknown reasons. In most cases, swollen
lymph nodes (also called swollen glands) aren’t a serious problem. They often go back
their original size with no treatment or when the illness or infection has passed. 

What causes swollen lymph nodes?

Swollen lymph nodes can be caused

  • Common illnesses, such as a
    cold or an ear infection

  • Bacterial infections, such as
    strep throat

  • Viral infections, such as

  • Certain rare illnesses that
    affect the immune system

  • Lymphadenitis, which is when a lymph node itself becomes
  • In rare cases, cancer

How is the cause of swollen lymph nodes

  • The healthcare provider asks
    about your child’s symptoms and health history.

  • A physical exam is done on
    your child. The provider will check the nodes in the neck, behind the ears, under
    the arms, and in the groin. These nodes can often be felt from outside the body
    when they are swollen. If the provider thinks your child may have an infection,
    your child may have more tests.

How are swollen lymph nodes

  • Treatment for swollen lymph
    nodes depends on the underlying cause. In most cases, no treatment is needed.

  • Medicine can be prescribed by
    the healthcare provider to treat an infection. Your child should take all of the
    medicine, even if they start feeling better.

  • If lymph nodes are painful or
    tender, do the following at home to ease your child’s symptoms: 

    • Give your child
      over-the-counter medicine, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, to treat pain
      and fever. Don’t give ibuprofen to an infant age 6 months or younger.

      Never give aspirin to a child or teen. It could cause a rare but serious
      condition called Reye syndrome. This is a rare, but very serious, disorder.
      It most often affects the brain and the liver.

    • Put a warm, wet cloth
      (compress) on any painful or sore lymph nodes.

Call the healthcare provider

Call the healthcare provider if
your child has any of the following:

  • Fever (see “Fever and
    children” below)

  • Your child has had a seizure
    caused by the fever

  • Painful or sore, swollen
    lymph nodes 

  • Lymph nodes that continue to
    grow in size or last more than 2 weeks

  • A large lymph node that is
    very hard or doesn’t seem to move under your fingers

Fever and children

Use a digital thermometer to check your child’s temperature. Don’t use a mercury
thermometer. There are different kinds and uses of digital thermometers. They

  • Rectal. For children younger than 3 years, a rectal temperature is the most
  • Forehead (temporal). This works for children age 3 months and older. If a
    child under 3 months old has signs of illness, this can be used for a first pass.
    provider may want to confirm with a rectal temperature.
  • Ear (tympanic). Ear temperatures are accurate after 6 months of age, but not
  • Armpit (axillary). This is the least reliable but may be used for a first
    pass to check a child of any age with signs of illness. The provider may want to
    confirm with a rectal temperature.
  • Mouth (oral). Don’t use a thermometer in your child’s mouth until they are at
    least 4 years old.

Use a rectal thermometer with care. Follow the product maker’s directions for correct
use. Insert it gently. Label it and make sure it’s not used in the mouth. It may pass
germs from the stool. If you don’t feel OK using a rectal thermometer, ask the
healthcare provider what type to use instead. When you talk with any healthcare provider
about your child’s fever, tell them which type you used.

Below is when to call the healthcare provider if your child has a fever. Your child’s
healthcare provider may give you different numbers. Follow their instructions.

When to call a healthcare provider about your child’s fever

For a baby under 3 months old:

  • First, ask your child’s healthcare provider how you should take the
  • Rectal or forehead: 100.4°F (38°C) or higher
  • Armpit: 99°F (37.2°C) or higher
  • A fever of ___________as advised by the provider

For a child age 3 months to 36 months (3 years):

  • Rectal or forehead: 102°F (38.9°C) or higher
  • Ear (only for use over age 6 months): 102°F (38. 9°C) or higher
  • A fever of ___________ as advised by the provider

In these cases:

  • Armpit temperature of 103°F (39.4°C) or higher in a child of any age
  • Temperature of 104°F (40°C) or higher in a child of any age
  • A fever of ___________ as advised by the provider

Axillary lymph node dissection (ALND)

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  3. Tests and procedures

  4. Axillary lymph node dissection (ALND)

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  3. Tests and procedures

  4. Axillary lymph node dissection (ALND)

Diagram of axillary lymph nodes

The lymph nodes are part of the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system helps fight infections and is
made up of lymph vessels, lymph fluid, lymph nodes, bone marrow and the lymphatic organs
(thymus, adenoid, tonsil and spleen).

Lymph vessels are very thin tubes similar to blood vessels. They collect and move lymph
fluid away from tissues into the lymph nodes. Lymph nodes are small bean-shaped organs
of lymphatic tissue. The lymph fluid can carry cancer cells from where the cancer
started into the lymph nodes.

The axillary lymph nodes are divided into 3 levels:

  • level I (low axilla) – located in the lower part of the armpit
  • level II (mid axilla) – located in the middle part of the armpit
  • level III (high axilla) – located in the upper part of the armpit near
    the breastbone (sternum)

Cancer cells usually spread to the level I lymph nodes first, to level II next and then
to level III.

Lymph fluid from the breast, skin of the upper limbs and other nearby tissues drains into
the axillary lymph nodes. The lymph fluid can carry cancer cells from these areas into
the axillary lymph nodes. In the early stages, you cannot usually feel the cancer in the
axillary lymph nodes. In more advanced stages of cancer, you may feel a lump in the
armpit as the axillary lymph nodes get bigger.

The most common type of cancer that spreads to the axillary lymph nodes is breast cancer.
Other cancers that may spread to the axillary lymph nodes are skin cancers, such as
melanoma or non-melanoma. Some types of cancer start in the axillary lymph nodes.

An axillary lymph node dissection is done to:

  • check for cancer in the lymph nodes of the armpit
  • find out how many lymph nodes contain cancer and how much cancer has spread to them
  • remove lymph nodes that contain cancer
  • remove lymph nodes when there is a high chance that cancer will spread to them
  • reduce the chance that the cancer will come back (recur)
  • remove cancer that is still in the lymph nodes after radiation therapy or chemotherapy
  • help doctors plan further treatment

An ALND is done under general anesthetic in a hospital operating room. It may be done at the same time as surgery for the primary cancer (such as during surgery to treat breast cancer).

The surgeon makes a cut (incision) under the arm and removes 10–40 lymph nodes from level I and level II. Level III lymph nodes are not usually removed because this does not improve survival and it increases the chances of side effects. But level III lymph nodes may be removed if the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes and formed a lump in the armpit or if bigger nodes are seen on imaging tests (such as an ultrasound, a CT scan or an MRI).

The lymph nodes and any other tissue removed during surgery are sent to a lab to be examined by a doctor who specializes in the causes and nature of disease (a pathologist).

After removing the lymph nodes, the surgeon places a small tube (drain) and closes the cut with stitches or staples. A drainage bag is attached to the end of the tube to collect fluid draining from the area. This reduces the chance of fluid building up and improves healing. The drain is left in place for a few weeks or until there is little drainage.

People who have an ALND are usually sent home 1–2 days after surgery. You may be given:

  • antibiotics to prevent infection
  • pain-relieving medicine
  • instructions on caring for and dressing the wound
  • information about how to manage the drainage bag and tube
  • advice on how much and which types of activity you can do after surgery
  • instructions on what to wear
  • advice on the best positions for your arm
  • a follow-up appointment to see the surgeon in 1–2 weeks
  • information about which symptoms and side effects you should report

Side effects can happen any time during, immediately after or a few days or weeks after
an ALND. Sometimes late side effects develop months or years after an ALND. Most side
effects go away on their own or can be treated, but some may last a long time or become

Tell the healthcare team if you have these side effects or others you think may be from
an ALND:

  • signs of infection, such as pain, redness, pus, discharge or fever
  • a collection of fluid under the skin (seroma) in the armpit near the cut
  • a swollen and tight-feeling arm
  • stiffness or trouble moving the arm or shoulder
  • changes in sensation, such as pain or numbness (may happen if nerves are
  • chronic pain (may be caused by damage to the nerves in the armpit)
  • axillary web syndrome (AWS, also called lymphatic cording), which is when cords
    of scar tissue develop in the lymph vessels from the armpit to the elbow and
    causes pain, tightness in the arm and trouble moving the shoulder

The healthcare team may give you antibiotics to prevent or treat an infection, or they
may drain a buildup of fluid.

Swelling may be due to a buildup of lymph fluid in the soft tissues (called lymphedema). Lymphedema can happen any time after lymph nodes are removed,
but it is more common with an ALND. The chance of developing lymphedema increases with
the number of lymph nodes removed and if radiation is given after an ALND. About 1 in 5
people get mild lymphedema after an ALND. A small percentage of people may get severe
lymphedema. Lymphedema treatment may include massage therapy, compression garments and

Each lymph node removed is examined to see if it contains cancer.

  • A negative lymph node has no cancer cells.
  • A positive lymph node has cancer cells.

The pathologist’s report includes the type of cancer, the number of lymph nodes removed and the number of lymph nodes that have cancer cells. The report may also say if the cancer has grown through the outer covering of the lymph node (the capsule).

Doctors use the number of positive lymph nodes to help stage the cancer. They use the stage along with other information about the type and grade of the cancer to make treatment decisions and give a prognosis.

Depending on the result, your doctor will decide if you need more tests, any treatment or follow-up care.

In rare cases, an ALND may be done in children to stage or treat some cancers, such as childhood breast cancer or rhabdomyosarcoma.

Preparing children before a test or procedure can lower anxiety, increase cooperation and help them develop coping skills. Preparation includes explaining to children what will happen during the test, including what they will see, feel, hear, taste or smell.

Preparing a child for an ALND depends on the age and experience of the child. Find out more about helping your child cope with tests and treatments.

  • Bazemore AW, Smucker DR
    . Lymphadenopathy and malignancy
    . American Family Physician
    . American Academy of Family Physicians
    ; 2002

  • Dollinger, M., Ko, A. H., Rosenbaum, E. H., et al
    . Understanding cancer. Ko, A. H., Dollinger, M., & Rosenbaum, E. Everyone’s Guide to Cancer Therapy: How Cancer is Diagnosed, Treated and Managed Day to Day. 5th ed. Kansas City: Andrews McMeel Publishing; 2008: 1: pp. 3-16.

  • Foxson SB, Lattimer JG & Felder B
    . Breast cancer. Yarbro, CH, Wujcki D, & Holmes Gobel B. (eds.). Cancer Nursing: Principles and Practice. 7th ed. Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett; 2011: 48: pp. 1091-1145.

  • Kwon, D.S., Kelly, C.M., and Ching, C.D.
    . Invasive breast cancer. Feig BW, Ching CD. The MD Anderson Surgical Oncology Handbook. 5th ed. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2012: 2:27-84.

  • Murphy JJ1, Morzaria S, Gow KW, et al
    . Breast cancer in a 6-year-old child. Journal of Pediatric Surgery. 2000.

  • NCCN
    . Breast Cancer. National Comprehensive Cancer Network. NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology. National Comprehensive Cancer Network; 2015.

  • Rosenberg,S.A.
    . Surgical oncology: general issues. DeVita VT Jr, Lawrence TS, & Rosenberg SA. Cancer: Principles & Practice of Oncology. 9th ed. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer Health/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2011: Chapter25:pp268-278.

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Dangerous symptom: if you notice swollen lymph nodes under the arms, see a doctor immediately


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Swollen lymph nodes is a reason to see a doctor 9001 2

Enlargement of the lymph node under the arm is accompanied by painful sensations on palpation, in the normal state this should not be. In the future, at the location of the lymph node, the skin may turn red, as a rule, this is accompanied by an increase in temperature.

This condition can be quite long and go away on its own after some time, which means that the root cause has been eliminated and the body has coped with the infection or inflammation on its own.

Systemic enlargement of the lymph nodes in most cases is a sign of a serious illness

Many people think that there is no cause for concern, and this will all go away on its own. But an increase in lymph nodes can be caused not only by mild colds, but also be symptoms of dangerous diseases.

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These symptoms are a serious reason for immediate medical attention, because in these cases inflammation can begin, pain and temperature increase, nausea and vomiting appear, accompanied by general weakness. It is very important to find out the cause as soon as possible and start treatment ( read also: Inflammation of the lymph nodes in the neck is the first alarm signal of a serious illness).

Causes of enlarged lymph nodes in the armpits

Enlarged lymph nodes


Sometimes the cause of swollen lymph nodes under the arm is an allergic reaction, which is fraught with many unpleasant consequences up to anaphylactic shock. In this case, in addition to this symptom, you may experience a runny nose, vomiting, hives and swelling of the face.

Furunculosis, which, in turn, is a signal of hormonal disorders, can be the cause of enlarged lymph nodes. Sometimes the lymph nodes change in size due to inflamed hair follicles under the arms or due to a spreading breast infection.

These diseases, of course, are unpleasant and require treatment, but the most dangerous are oncological ones – cancer of the breast or lymph nodes, for which this symptom is typical ( read also: Inflammation of the lymph nodes under the arms: causes and treatment).

In most cases, with oncology, lymph nodes increase not only in those located under the armpits, but also in the groin and on the neck tests for tumor markers to find out if there are any seals in the area of ​​\u200b\u200bthe mammary glands. And you should also visit an oncologist, especially if you have general weakness and loss of appetite, pallor of the skin and shortness of breath – these are the most characteristic signs of cancer of the lymph nodes.

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Inflamed lymph node in the armpit.




And how long did it take you? I’m worried that it’s been 2 weeks already – and it still hurts.



9 0121 Oct 11, 2008 03:35 PM









but in general, the author, it is better to show the surgeon. maybe it’s not an inflammation of the lymph node, but a banal abscess0003

I don’t want to escalate, but my classmate has a plum cone. she was then cut. By the way, too, after shaving. appears to have been infected.











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      90 002 I also got inflamed (((It hurts for 2 days, I also noticed some kind of tingling in breasts on the same side ((((I’m afraid . .. my mother is a doctor, she advised me to drink tsiprolet … I probably got a cold … but what does the chest have to do with it???? 9New topics

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      My aunt had the same thing at first, they said everything would pass. And then it turned out that she had lymphogranulomatosis for a long time she did not live …



      I do not advise you to smear it.