Lumps in the armpit

Question

Dear Dr. Feinberg,

I wonder if you could shed some light on lumps I have been getting in the armpits. They are approximately the size of the tip of my small finger and seem to be slightly oblong. The lumps are accompanied by little pussy acne around the armpit. My doctor says it has nothing to do with the lymph glands and is a skin disorder. He suggested infected sebaceous cysts since the swelling is very tender and just under the skin. This was when I had the lumps in my left armpit. These have since disappeared. My concern was reignited when the same "cysts" appeared in the right armpit at the same locations about a week ago. My conclusion is that the lumps must be linked to some body part such as veins, lymph vessels or the like. I hope you can point me in a direction where I can find more information. Thank you.

Answer

It sounds like you may have hidradenitis suppurativa, a medical term that means infection of the sweat glands. This can also occur in the groin area. It tends to recur and scar tissue can form under the skin that can wall off the pus and make the infection hard to get rid of. This should be treated with antibiotics active against Staph (a common skin organism). If one of the lumps gets very tender, sometimes you can get these to drain on their own by applying hot compresses. Sometimes, they need to be incised (opened up) to get the pus to drain.