An Infected Cystic Swelling in the Armpit
Q: I’m a female and I’m 30 years old. I have had a small pea size lump in my arm pit for about 3 years. I woke up 3 days ago with the lump started hurting and was the size of a walnut. The next day it had a pin size hole through which a green thick awful smelling fluid was coming out. So I went to the ER. They drained it by squeezing really hard. They said it was really thick- like cottage cheese, and they got most of it out. They also said they trimmed the sac a little in my arm pit. They left it open and packed it. They said I still needed to see a surgeon to have the lump removed. What could this lump be? Can it be cancerous? Why did I get this? I’m also on a skin antibiotic pill. Please help me with some information on this. Thank you and God bless.
The lump in your armpit is unlikely to be cancerous. Malignant lumps have a tendency to grow and spread. They are unlikely to stay silent for 3 years.
The lump you had could be a sebaceous cyst, which later got infected (due to moisture in the area or maybe some hand maneuvering).
What Is a Sebaceous Cyst?
It is a cystic (fluid filled) swelling formed by occlusion of a duct draining the sebaceous gland.
There are a number of tiny glands called sebaceous glands underneath our skin. These produce sebum, an oily lubricating fluid that prevents dryness and keeps our skin soft.
Quite commonly, the duct draining a gland may get blocked. In such situations, sebum produced by the gland keeps collecting there itself, leading to a cystic swelling called sebaceous gland.
This swelling may stay like this for years. The fluid may get dried up to give a hard lump.
Sometimes, it gets infected and the gland gets filled with cheesy pus.
The treatment is squeezing out the pus.
In cases of long standing lumps, chances of recurrences are pretty high. That is, the remaining lump, after drainage, can again grow to produce a lump.
Treatment for Long Standing Cysts
The treatment involves removing the the whole gland with its covering or capsule. Even a little piece of capsule left can give rise to a lump again.
So, you need to go to a surgeon. He will perform a minor surgery in the area. All he will do is removing the remaining gland contents with the capsule.
Meanwhile, take your skin antibiotics to get rid of any skin infection before the surgery is performed.