Painful or Painless Underarm Cysts Causes, Pictures, Treatments, Removal & Remedies 

Why do I have underarm cysts or what causes them? Can anyone end up having a cyst in underarm? Explore more on how an armpit lump becomes a cyst as well as information about treatment and removal including the of sebaceous ones.

Is it an armpit lump or cyst?

Anyone can have sore lumps in my armpit that come and go after a few days. Could they be underarm lumps or cysts? Lumps may be the size of a pea and would be indicative of abscesses, enlarged lymph nodes, infected hair follicles breast cancer or tissue. Some may cause discomfort whereas others like may be benign (harmless) painless.

On the other hand, “cysts usually do not cause pain unless they rupture or become infected or inflamed.” [WebMD]. This work will focus on cysts. We will discuss underarm arm lumps separately.

Causes or reasons

In this area, you are going to discover possible causes and how cysts result from lumps after an infection, ingrown hair amongst certain conditions.

Underarm ingrown hair cysts

They are the ones that results from ingrown hair is one common cause for this problem in adult human (males and females). Ingrown armpit hair is majorly due to shaving.

One of the factors can contribute to ingrowing hair in armpits after shaving is due to irritation. A little or slight irritation (by razor or chemicals e.g. deodorants and perspirants) will lead to formation of small bumps or lumps. Before cysts can develop, usually the underarm bumps would have long coiled hair that may be trapped under skin surface. That is how a painful lump in armpit turn cystic.

If you have a severe infection from pathogens or after an injury, underarm cyst caused by shaving will form pus. Under such a circumstance, much discomfort results due to the warm feeling on the underarms. Consequently, the sweat glands become infected causing an inflicting pain and become tender to touch.

Sebaceous cyst

“A sebaceous cyst is a closed sac under the skin filled with a cheese-like or oily material” []. This is how the closed sac “cyst” develops. Sebaceous glands are tiny glands underneath skin that produce sebum (body oil that prevents the skin from drying out). Many times, the sebaceous ducts linking the gland and the skin surface can get blocked or undergo occlusion leading to clogging of sebaceous glands.

Over time, sebum collects itself causing swelling in the sebaceous skin tissue. If this swelling persists, (the cheese-like material could dry up) a hard lump, walnut size, is most likely to result even after years.

In any chance, when it is infected by microorganisms the glands will develop pus hence a closed filled sac.


Does it mean that a lump under my armpit is always a cyst? No. That will not be the case always. The area under your arms – axilla – has small bean-shaped glands called lymph nodes. They are also found on neck and groin. If these glands are injured or infected they usually swell. The good news is that axillary lymph node swelling can rarely be caused by breast cancer or lymphoma.

Swollen lymph nodes themselves can are considered armpit lumps. However, if they are infected by bacteria or fungus for instance, then the lymph nodes become enlarged. Any infected nodes of the lymphatic system can develop resulting in a cyst-like lump over time.

Excessive sweating

If your armpits sweat abnormally due to a genetic disorder or after undergoing a surgery to control sweating, you may be at risk of developing small armpit cysts.

Underarm cyst cancer

Unless it is a sign of breast cancer in females symbolic of large painless lumps near or under the armpits, cysts are usually noncancerous. However, studies have shown that cancer cells may grow to go out of the way to affect the lymphatic system resulting in lymphoma. When and only if the system’s lymph nodes are damaged, the situation creates a favorable internal environment them to appear inclusive of your armpits.

Hidradenitis Suppurativa or Acne Inversa

Hidradenitis suppurativa is another cause that form “clusters of cysts which may be large,” [].

Other Causes

Other possible causative factors include individuals with fatty lumps or lipoma, immunizations against diseases like smallpox, autoimmune disorders, allergic reactions (especially drugs), and patients with active infections such as chickenpox, shingles, and mononucleosis.


Symptoms of armpit cysts can depend on what has caused them or what has led them to develop. Some can be very small while others large. Common signs to be keen on however include sudden pain. Be keen on painful feeling as it may tell you of a developing them.

There may be signs of infected ones. Most probably, these may have developed after you have hair in this region removed. If not so, your sweat glands are also infected. You should know these signs if:

  • You have enlarged lymph nodes due to swollen lymph[h glands (Lymphadenitis),
  • The underarm is tender to touch,
  • Underarm lumps feel warm or have turned red,
  • You get fever or chills,

Get an insightful impression of these pictures.

Basically, a painful cyst under the armpit is an indication of infections. Moreover, pain may also be an early sign of inflammation of armpit lumps that may result from shaving, scratching and friction from clothes or while making arm movements and infected sweat glands.

Not painful or no pain

Underarm cysts cause no pain under your arm in most cases. We earlier looked at what causes them to become painful. What about the ones not painful and what causes them? Characteristically,  they are cause no pain and grow more slowly if they are not infected. In fact, they feel smooth to touch and lie flexibly under the skin.

This makes them seem harmless but in the real sense can cause other complications which may influence healthy lymphatic system functioning.

Underarm sebaceous cysts fit into this category. Other causes include fatty lumps (lipoma) and cancer of the breast or lymphatic system.

Treatment or armpit Cyst Removal & recovery

Before you consider to go for treatment or removal of underarm cysts, it is advisable to go for diagnosis or get tests to confirm what caused them. In this way, your doctor or physician can know the correct treatment method to apply. On the other hand, the method adopted may determine time for recovery after treatment or removal.

Apparently, treating any cysts without medical prior knowledge is highly discouraged. Doing so may consequently give rise to more complications even at the point of presenting it to a physician. That is damn serious!

We shall highlight cures based on medication and other medical methods to get rid of cysts plus some home remedies later on.

1.      Use of medications

This treatment option can be of worth when dealing with infected bumps or lumps. Though they are of great help, medicines cannot effectively remove armpit cysts which have developed or show signs of infections.


If the area under your armpits become infected, your doctor will prescribe antibiotic medicines. As already mentioned, antibiotics will help relieve of the symptoms as well as treat any bacterial infections caused by bacteria.

Steroid Injections

Secondly, certain conditions may make cysts become inflamed and this could cause irritation under your armpits. To avoid any discomforts and make you feel better, you may go for injections.

2.      Draining

After an infection cysts may become filled with pus and this requires draining. It is a medical procedure used by physician to relieve of its symptoms that bring discomfort.

Your surgeon should recommend prescription antibiotic medicines to prevent germs or staph infections after a successful draining of cysts. Unfortunately, even if so this cannot guarantee removal since their walls remain attached to the inner tissues under skin. To avoid cysts recurring cysts in armpits (that may come and go) you need to go for surgery to get rid of cyst capsule.

3.  Surgery removal

Surgery of this kind is minor. This is an effective procedure for removing and getting rid of cystic lumps whether they are sebaceous ones, on groin, armpit cysts or those on neck. The credibility and success of this surgical process relies professional who performs the operation.

Preferably, your physician may begin by injecting an anesthesia before making incisions during the initial process of removing cyst. Patients need anesthesia to curb pain. One of the obvious things to expect simultaneously is bleeding. Unless it is an infected sebaceous cyst, much bleeding should not occur.

If an it has pus inside, then it may require drainage before it can be removed. Now depending on such conditions recovery time is expected to be a bit longer as the size of wound left matters a lot.

4.      Laser treatment

Draining alone does not cannot cure and remove cysts completely. If you want to avoid cysts that come and go or recurring your doctor may prefer vaporization using laser technique. This method nay be applicable in case a part of lining of the cyst wall remains attached to skin tissue after surgery removal.

Removal video

Take a look and listen to what happens during removal of a cyst in this video provided.

Home remedies

Use of home remedies are helpful in taking care of armpit lumps but are limited to clearing symptoms of cysts. They include warm compress, application of apple cider vinegar and use of antibacterial products such as Echinacea to fight infections.

Tips on How to prevent them

Can you really avoid developing these cysts? To a certain possible reality, you may prevent this problem in your life. But little can be done to avert certain processes like the lymphatic system, fibroid tumor, and underarm tumor growths. There are some indispensable things you have to strictly follow if you are to limit chances of developing them.

Control underarm bumps

  • To begin, basic and common caution to take is during hair removal. Apply warm water before shaving to soften and hydrate your hair. This also reduces chances of pulling hairs.
  • Strive to use clean razor blades and recommended tools only. Do NOT shave too close.
  • You can apply shaving creams but if they are causing your armpits get irritated, avoid them during shaving.
  • Always remember to rinse your shaving razors if you are to use them again.
  • Use warm water to wipe your armpits with help of clean soft material like towel. Alternatively splash.

At no given point should you try to squeeze or pop a lump unless you are only sure it is a mature pimple only. With or without medication, painful or no pain at all, small, large or swollen, if a lump persists for more than two weeks see your doctor the soonest.

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