what do the lymph nodes look like under the arm photo?

The lymphatic system plays a crucial role in our body’s defense mechanism, acting as a network of vessels and lymph nodes that filter and carry lymph fluid. Lymph nodes are small, bean-shaped structures that help to fight infections and diseases. Understanding what normal lymph nodes look like under the arm is important, as it allows us to identify any abnormalities that may indicate the presence of underlying health conditions. In this guide, we will explore the appearance of lymph nodes under the arm with the help of photos, discuss their functions, causes of enlargement, and provide answers to some frequently asked questions (FAQs).

Functions of Lymph Nodes

Lymph nodes serve as key components of the lymphatic system and perform several important functions, including:

Filtering lymph

Lymph nodes filter lymph fluid by trapping bacteria, viruses, and other harmful substances to prevent them from entering the bloodstream.

Immune response

Lymph nodes contain various types of immune cells, such as lymphocytes, which detect and destroy foreign invaders, including pathogens and cancer cells.

Production of antibodies

Lymph nodes generate antibodies that specifically target and neutralize harmful substances, providing immunity against certain diseases.

What Do the Lymph Nodes Look Like Under the Arm?

Normal Appearance of Lymph Nodes:
Under normal circumstances, lymph nodes under the arm are often not easily visible or palpable due to their small size (approximately 0.1 to 2.5 cm) and deep location. They usually have a smooth, rubbery texture and are not tender or painful when gently touched.

Abnormal Appearance of Lymph Nodes

However, if there is an underlying health condition causing lymph node enlargement, they may become more prominent and easily noticeable. Abnormal lymph nodes may exhibit the following characteristics:


Enlarged lymph nodes might range from pea-sized to the size of a cherry or even larger.


Abnormal lymph nodes can feel hardened or firm to touch, unlike the soft, rubbery texture of healthy nodes.


Enlarged lymph nodes can be tender or painful when palpated.


Swollen lymph nodes may lose their usual bean-like shape and appear irregular or asymmetric.


Healthy lymph nodes tend to move freely beneath the skin, while enlarged nodes may be fixed or feel stuck in one place.

Causes of Enlarged Lymph Nodes Under the Arm


Infections, particularly those localized to the arms, breasts, or surrounding areas, can cause lymph nodes under the arm to enlarge. Common examples include:

Bacterial infections

Such as cellulitis, infected wounds, or mastitis.

-Viral infection

Like flu, colds, or mononucleosis (commonly known as mono).

Fungal infections

For instance, ringworm or histoplasmosis.

– Sexually transmitted infections (STIs): Including syphilis or herpes.


Enlarged lymph nodes may be a symptom of certain types of cancer, including:

Breast cancer

Tumor cells can spread to the axillary lymph nodes located in the underarm area.


Both Hodgkin’s lymphoma and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma can cause lymph node enlargement in various regions.

Metastatic cancer

Cancer that has spread from other organs can involve the lymph nodes, leading to enlargement.

Autoimmune Disorders

In some cases, autoimmune disorders can cause lymph nodes under the arm to become enlarged. These conditions occur when the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy cells and tissues, such as in rheumatoid arthritis or systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).

Other Causes

Additional factors that can contribute to lymph node enlargement include:

Allergic reactions

Severe allergies can trigger the immune system, resulting in swollen lymph nodes.


Certain medications, such as those used for epilepsy or arthritis, can lead to lymph node enlargement as a side effect.

Stress and anxiety

Prolonged periods of stress or anxiety can cause the body’s immune response to heighten, leading to swollen lymph nodes.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Are all enlarged lymph nodes a cause for concern?
– While most cases of enlarged lymph nodes are due to infections or other common causes, it is important to have persistent or concerning enlargement checked by a healthcare professional.

How can I check my lymph nodes under the arm?
– Gently palpate the underarm area, feeling for any abnormal lumps or enlargement. If you notice any concerning changes, consult a medical professional.

When should I see a doctor if I notice changes in my lymph nodes?
– You should consult a healthcare provider if you experience persistent or worsening changes in the size, texture, or tenderness of your lymph nodes or if you have other concerning symptoms.


Understanding what normal lymph nodes look like under the arm is crucial in identifying any abnormalities that may indicate underlying health conditions. While most enlarged lymph nodes are due to common causes like infections, it is important to be vigilant and seek medical attention for persistent or concerning changes. Regular self-examination and medical check-ups are essential in maintaining overall health and well-being.

Leave a Comment