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Armpit Cyst

The armpit cyst is a medical condition that sounds more seriously than it actually is. Basically, we are talking about a lump that appears in the armpit area, under the skin. This lump can appear for various reasons, some being connected to bodily hygiene, others to underlying medical conditions. It is important to understand that the armpit cyst can either be filled with a clear liquid or with pus, the latter being suggestive of an infection in the area. It can also appear as a direct result of gland clogging, requiring surgical excision and drainage in more serious cases.

The majority of the armpit cysts are harmless and they do not require any specific treatment, other than an improved hygiene routine. Only serious cases of armpit cysts are treated through surgery. As a patient, you are recommended to visit the doctor in case the armpit cyst causes a lot of discomfort and pain. Otherwise, there are certain home remedies you can consider for the cyst. Keep in mind that cysts are common in this area, as there is a lot of humidity and friction. Also, men present a higher risk of developing armpit cysts than women.

Armpit Cyst Symptoms

The most common symptoms of the armpit cyst are:


  • This symptom might precede the actual development of the cyst
  • Can range from mild to severe
  • Aggravated by movement of the arm
  • Can appear as a symptom after the rupture/infection/inflammation of a cyst

Symptoms of infection

  • The armpit is warm, red and tender to the touch
  • Fever/chills
  • General state of discomfort
  • Enlarged lymph nodes.

Lump under the skin

  • The lump increases as the infection progresses
  • Pus may be visible or the lump might have a red surface
  • The cyst can break on its own, resulting in discharge of pus.

Non-infectious armpit cysts

  • Filled with clear liquid
  • They grow more slowly, as there is no pathogenic agent aggravating the infection.
  • They are smooth to the touch and flexible under the skin.

Causes of Armpit Cyst

These are the most common causes that led to the appearance of armpit cysts:

  • Frequent shaving of the armpits – this can irritate the hair follicles and, combined with the use of deodorants/antiperspirants, can lead to the formation of lumps under the skin.
  • Bacterial infection – this appears in situations of inadequate bodily hygiene. If a person is used to shaving the armpits, then the bacteria can easily penetrate the skin through one of the cuts or minor lacerations that commonly occur.
  • Fungal infection – as the armpit is an area with plenty of humidity, fungal infections are very common. The fungi can lead to a serious fungal infection, with the formation of armpit cysts.
  • Other infectious diseases – chickenpox, shingles and infectious mononucleosis can lead to the appearance of cysts in the armpits.
  • Benign fatty lumps – these are known as lipoma and they are harmless, posing no threat to one’s health.
  • Breast nodules – if a person has nodules in the breasts, then there is a very good chance of cysts to develop in the armpits as well.
  • Immunization – if a person receives a vaccine against an infectious disease (such as smallpox or measles), there is a high risk of cysts to be developed in areas with lymph nodes (including the armpit).
  • Excessive sweating – this is actually a medical condition and it favors the development of small cysts in the armpits.
  • Cancer – different types of cancer can affect the lymphatic system, leading to the formation of armpit cysts, among other modifications.
  • Other causes – autoimmune disorders (lupus, rheumatoid arthritis), allergic reactions to drugs and AIDS.


These are the most common courses of treatment undertaken for armpit cysts:

  • Anti-inflammatory medication – this is recommended for the symptoms caused by the cyst, such as the pain and inflammation.
  • Antibiotics are indicated in case of bacterial infection. These can be administered topical, as antibiotic ointment or orally, in case of a more serious infection.
  • Antifungal medication is recommended in case of fungal infection. Just as with the antibiotics, the antifungal treatment is topical (antifungal cream or ointment) or oral. The choice between topical and oral treatment depends on the severity of the infection. Sometimes the doctor might decide to use both of them to eliminate the infection faster.
  • Surgical removal of the cysts is recommended in severe cases. This will ensure that the cyst is properly drained and that the infection is eliminated from the body, before it causes life-threatening symptoms.

Home treatment choices include:

  • If the area is not warm to the touch but there is a lot of pain, you can apply a warm compress.
  • If the lump has formed and there is a lot of warmth in the area, a cold compress will help with the inflammation.
  • A gentle massage of the armpit is recommended in case of small lumps. This will add more blood into the area and it will promote a faster healing process.


In case the armpit cyst reaches a big dimension, the doctor might decide to remove it for your own safety. Besides the removal, the doctor is going to administer antibiotics, so as to make sure that the infectious agent is completely eliminated from the body.

The actual removal involves the disinfecting of the armpit area, followed by an incision made at the site of the cyst. The doctor will then drain the cyst, making sure that all the pus that has collected is eliminated. After the drainage process has been completed, the doctor will apply disinfectant to the area once more and also a dressing to protect the area. Your responsibility after the removal lies in you maintaining excellent hygiene, so as to prevent secondary infections. Sometimes, you might be required to make a second visit to the doctor’s office, so as to have the cyst drained again. During this period, maintaining the area clean is essential. Otherwise, you will risk the recently drained area to become infected and the treatment period will be prolonged unnecessarily.

Pictures of Armpit Cyst

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Armpit Cyst
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