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Pain in Armpit

Saptakee Sengupta
Pain in armpit that comes and goes should not be a reason to worry about. But if the problem occurs frequently, then this warrants a medical visit.
Pain in the armpit region may be the result of something as mild as a razor bump and may not attract medical assistance. But since it could also be a sign of something as severe as breast cancer, early medical diagnosis is necessary to rule out potential conditions.

Pain Arising from Microbial Infections

Fungal Infections
Armpit glands, also known as axillary glands are vulnerable to fungal and bacterial infections. Sharp pain in armpit is experienced due to fungal attack. The condition is also known as Sporotrichosis and is marked by formation of a painful lump in the armpit.
The disease is caused by the fungus Sporothrix schenckii and the infection is more often observed in gardeners due to the fungi residing in twigs, soils, bushes, moss, etc.
Bacterial Infections
Bacterial infection causes inflammation which gives rise to severe pain in armpit. One of the common bacterial diseases is the cat scratch disease. It causes immense itching, swelling and pain. Bacteria can invade through skin pores and superficial wounds.
Boils, bumps and cysts might develop due to clogging of pores and sebaceous glands. People who sweat profusely are more vulnerable to armpit infections. Bacterial species that frequently affect the glands of armpit are Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus pyogenes and Bartonella henselae.
Infection in Lymph Glands
Infection of lymph vessels is a painful condition and the pain might spread to the armpit region. Lymphadenitis and lymphangitis are two such conditions wherein the infection in lymph glands spreads to axillary glands, thereby causing pain in the armpit.
Viral Infection
Viral infection can also cause pain in armpit. Lump in armpit might be the consequence of Epstein-Barr virus infection and the condition is medically termed as mononucleosis. Armpit pain is also a symptom of mumps, typhoid, measles, chickenpox, and AIDS.

Pain Arising from Health Disorders

Breast Cancer
Pain in armpit and breasts is generally associated with breast cancer. It's one of the most common diagnostic symptoms of breast cancer. Lump formation can take place in breasts as well as in the armpit, causing intermittent pain in the affected region.
Non Hodgkin's Lymphoma
The cells of the immune system when attacked by mutagens, give rise to shooting pain in the armpit. Non Hodgkin's lymphoma is a cancer of the white blood cells, wherein small tumors develop in the lymphocytes present in the armpit region.
Pain in armpit and chest might occur from sarcoidosis, a disorder characterized by abnormal accumulation of granulomas or inflammatory cells over multiple organs. Groins, lymph nodes and axillary glands get affected due to this and a person experiences pain in lower rib cage, armpit and other organs of the body.
Hidradenitis Suppurativa
It's a skin disease affecting regions having high density of sweat and sebaceous glands, and underarms are tremendously susceptible Hidradenitis suppurativa. Hot and humid climate and excessive sweating triggers the formation of pus filled boils, cysts and abscesses in armpits. The condition is indeed very painful.

Other Reasons

  • Armpit pain could be the side effect of antibiotics and drugs, of which sulfa drugs and penicillin are the most common.
  • Injury to collagen, structural proteins and ligaments might degenerate the connective tissues present around the armpit region. It is a very painful condition and might also restrict movement of hands.
  • Swollen armpit accompanied by throbbing pain is one of the symptoms of hypothyroidism (presence of very low levels of thyroxine in the body) and diabetes.
  • Razor bumps usually arise from shaving off armpit hair with low-grade razors and also due to careless handling.
  • The pain could also be the aftereffect of waxing, if one is allergic to the wax used on the skin.
  • Furthermore, the skin in the armpit region being extremely sensitive might also get affected with chemicals present in deodorants and sprays. It causes pain, itching and burning sensation in underarms.

Treatment Options

  • Waiting for the pain to subside on its own is not something wise, instead one must visit a doctor to get the right treatment. Armpit pain caused by microbial infections are usually treated with various types of antifungal drugs, antibiotics and antiviral medicines.
  • Painkillers are administered to subside the pain associated with swollen lymph glands. If there's a muscle pull in the armpit, then muscle relaxers can provide the much-needed relief.
  • If the suspected condition is cancer, then radiation and chemotherapy doses are given according to the severity of the symptoms.
  • The best home remedy is taking warm compress. Dip a soft towel in lukewarm water and take compress with that to get relief from boils.
  • After waxing or shaving wipe the underarms with cold water or ice. This will prevent occurrence of rashes.
Pain in armpit should never be neglected because a little carelessness on your part can make the condition worse. Go for a check up to rule out the underlying cause and get proper treatment done at the earliest.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this Story is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.