What Are Underarm Abscesses?

Underarm abscesses often produce a foul-smelling secretion and can be uncomfortable for those who suffer from them.
What Are Underarm Abscesses?
Leonardo Biolatto

Written and verified by the doctor Leonardo Biolatto.

Last update: 27 May, 2022

Underarm abscesses are bothersome boils that form due to an inflammation of the sweat glands. In reality, although this condition is usually thought of as simply a pimple, it’s actually a much more complex pathology.

The medical term for this condition is hidradenitis suppurativa. It’s estimated that it affects almost 4% of the population. The rate is twice as high in women as it is in men. 

This illness usually occurs after puberty and has a large genetic component. It’s a serious pathology, although not life-threatening. It affects both the quality of life and the self-esteem of those who suffer from it. 
Sufferers of underarm abscesses tend to feel a lot of pain. Additionally, they’re usually continuously secreting a foul-smelling liquid from that area.

In this article, we’ll explain everything you should know about underarm abscesses.

What are underarm abscesses?

As we mentioned previously, underarm abscesses are, in reality, a very bothersome and incapacitating problem. It involves inflammation of the sweat glands of the armpit. Because of this, the pores through which sweat is secreted become blocked and cause an infection of the area, since the warmth and humidity are favorable conditions for bacteria to grow.

Because of this blockage, the pus formed from the infection accumulates and ends up forming an abscess beneath the skin of the armpit. This causes pain and can even restrict movement of the arm. These abscesses burst frequently, releasing a very unpleasant smelling secretion.

In reality, underarm abscesses are a skin pathology that can also occur in other areas of the body. In fact, they also commonly affect the groin and the gluteal region.

What are the symptoms?

Underarm abscesses are more common following puberty. Normally, they begin with one single boil that lasts for weeks or months. However, this condition usually progresses and is long-lasting.

In the majority of cases, as time goes by, the ailment gets worse and ends up affecting other parts of the body. For example, hormonal fluctuations during a woman’s menstrual cycle tend to make the situation worse. In fact, after menopause, most women who suffered from this tend to feel much improvement.

Other contributing factors are stress, being overweight, heat, and humidity. But, additionally, there are a number of studies that link the Crohn’s disease with underarm abscesses.

The main symptoms of this condition are:

  • The occurrence of blackheads or whiteheads
  • Red bulges in the armpit that are tender to the touch – these boils typically burst
  • Secretion of pus with a foul odor
  • Burning, stinging, and itching in the area
  • Over time, fistulas can appear, which are a type of tunnel that connects the bulges under the skin – they’re very difficult to heal.

However, one of the most important aspects of underarm abscesses is that they deeply affect the self-esteem of the sufferer. This is mainly because they aren’t aesthetically pleasing. Furthermore, the continuous discharge can be rather repulsive.

You might like: How to Prevent Excessive Sweating

Are there treatments for underarm abscess?

The fact is that there’s no cure for this ailment. However, there are treatment options for managing the pain, and to help the wounds to healThe doctor is the one who should recommend the best course of treatment for each case.

Antibiotic medications are usually utilized to reduce the infection in the affected area, as well as steroid injections to reduce pain and inflammation. Doctors also prescribe painkillers to alleviate some of the discomfort. On the other hand, there are more aggressive surgical options that allow for better management of the illness.

Pain management for underarm abscesses.

Follow your doctor’s advice

Underarm abscesses are a very bothersome pathology that seriously affect the quality of life of those who suffer from it. For this reason, it is important to turn to your doctor as soon as possible to decide the best course of treatment depending on your case.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.