Hand Injury Infection Spreading to Armpit Nodes

Q: I’m a male and I’m 17. I wrecked my dirt bike yesterday and I scraped my hand on the road. The next day, I had a red line going from my hand to my arm pit. It has no pain, just the injury on my hand.
– By Timothy Hollingsworth

Reply:

You need immediate medical attention. Visit your nearest doctor/ health center at the earliest!

The condition you have is medically called lymphangitis.

What is Lymphangitis?

Lymphangitis is inflammation or irritation of lymphatic channels and lymph nodes connected to it.

All organs of our body have their own lymphatic systems. This consist of the organ, the lymphatic channels draining it and the group of lymph nodes to which the organ drains.

Lymph is an important fluid, which ultimately drains into the blood. Lymphoid tissues work basically as sieves or filters of blood.

Now, your skin is an organ, which drains into the lymph nodes of the armpit via a few lymphatic channels.

Sometimes, as in acute streptococcal or staphylococcal infections of the skin, the infection may spread by breaking in to the lymphatic channels.

The infected lymph channels appear as a thin red line going up towards the armpit.

The infection may further reach the lymph nodes of the arm pit. If delayed, causative bacteria can enter the blood stream from the lymph nodes, leading to a very serious medical condition caused sepsis.

Sepsis is a life-threatening condition. So, you may go to a hospital without any delay.

Common Location Where we See Lymphangitis

All organs are connected to their specific lymph channels. However, lymphangitis is commonly seen at places where lymphatics are most extensively present. These include:

  • Armpits
  • Groin
  • Region under the jaw

Symptoms

You’re usually able to locate the primary wound or focus of infection from where the infection has spread into the lymph channels.

  • The infected area and region up to the lymph node where it drains, may look swollen, warm to touch and tender.
  • Frank collection of pus may sometimes be seen at the location of primary infection.
  • Thin red streaks can be seen traveling from the primary wound to the nearest bunch of lymph node it drains into.
  • Immobility of the considered limb or part of the body
  • Fever and general ill feeling

Complications

If not treated, the infection would spread further. Bacteria would spread into the entire lymph channel. As lymph finally drains into the blood, bacteria gets into the blood stream.

This condition is very serious and called sepsis. Sepsis is difficult to control. It gives a chance to the bacteria to attack all our vital organs.

Managing Lymphangitis

  • The condition cannot be managed at home. An urgent hospital visit is required.
  • Apropriate antibiotics need to be given immediately to arrest the spread of bacteria. Very often, intravenous infusions of the antibiotic are required for quicker action.
  • Apart form this, any visible collection of pus needs surgical drainage by a trained professional. This cannot be done at home. It requires total aseptics during the procedure.
  • Medicines to reduce pain and swelling may be given.

Take Care,

Buddy M.D.

Medical Advice (Q&As) on “Red Line Running Up Arm in Lymphangitis

  1. Tan

    My friend smashed her finger in a door last Tuesday. Now it’s a week later and she had so much pressure that she sterilized a needle got it hot and poked a small hole on the back part of the the finger nail;, which immediately started seeping pus relieved the pressure which she says made it feel better. Later about two hours later, she says her finger is throbbing again and there is a red streak running up her am into the arm pit. What do we do?

    Reply
    1. Buddy M.D. Post author

      Go to the hospital immediately. She needs antibiotics as soon as possible. She may require pus to be drained surgically.

      The red line indicates that the infection is spreading in her body. This can be serious.

      Reply
  2. Tami

    I have had a cough for a week and really bad smelling urine and peeing more often I have a slight pain in my stomach that never really goes away I’ve been gaining weight and feel so tired now I have a red line running from my back left hip all the way to my shoulder and my lump nods are swollen am I OK?

    Reply
    1. Buddy M.D. Post author

      Appears to be having an infection. Antibiotics may be needed. See a doctor at the earliest.

      Reply
  3. Jillian

    I have my belly button pierced and the other day a dog jumped up to my stomach then went back down, pulling my belly ring. It started bleeding a good amount after but didn’t start hurting until the next day. Now I have a faint red line going from my belly button straight down. Is this anything I should have looked at by a doctor?

    Reply
    1. Buddy M.D. Post author

      Is it still paining? do you have any swelling or redness over the affected area? If yes, you need to see a doctor at the earliest.

      Reply

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