There’s a small painful lump in my left armpit and I THINK it’s a clogged pore because I don’t think you get cancer overnight but maybe it’s been there forever and it just started hurting today except it hurts exactly like a zit but maybe that’s what cancer hurts like I don’t know so I am alternating between trying to pop it and telling myself it is totally not cancer except that what if it IS cancer and I’m trying to pop it and that can’t possibly be a good idea and when I asked my nurse practitioner about that a few years ago she said that knowing me, I would try to pop it but she didn’t actually say if that would make the cancer worse, like it would make it angry and it would start punching me in the vital organs and I’m pretty sure it’s a clogged pore and oh god what if this is how I’m going to die and all the chickens of absurd good fortune I enjoy have finally come home to roost and I can’t go to the doctor right away because if they try to do a biopsy and it’s just a zit I’ll be in excruciating pain just so the techs can laugh at me.

You know, I bet that happens all the time.

I think it’s just a clogged pore.

  • reply dishuiguanyin ,

    Go to see a doctor. If it is a blocked pore they can tell easily without any invasive tests (touch alone), and they’ll give you cream to deal with it. If it’s something else, well, you really do want to get that checked out.

    In my experience they take women with armpit lumps seriously, and do not laugh.

    • reply Loon ,

      Seconding the advice to go see a doc. Even if they can’t figure it out by touch, the next step would probably be to do a… how do you call that in English (not my first language)? The thing to see embryos in the womb? Anyway, that’s what they did here because of my breast lump, and they could tell from that picture that it is a friendly lump (these exist also, and are actually quite common, about a third of all women get them in their early twenties). Then the next step would have been a mammogram, then a second one to confirm, and if all these things point to cancer they will do a biopsy. So don’t worry, you won’t end up under the knife for a clogged pore.

      • reply jimofthecorn ,

        Anxiety sucks.

        I’ll third your wise advisers. The techs shouldn’t laugh at you (why should you be expected to know what cancer feels like)? And even if they did, that sounds less bad than having your brain spinning around in circles.

        • reply Liddle-Oldman ,

          It’s just a clogged pore. Or a zit. Or an angry skin tag. But get it checked out, of course, not because it’s dangerous, but because then you’ll know it’s not dangerous.

          And i can completely understand your tizzy, because after a certain age, one has the uncomfortable knowledge that someday you’ll suddenly find out how you’re going to die. This isn’t that day — but it’s still anxiety-producing.

          Medical people deal with patients with sex toys stuck up their noses. They’re not going to laugh at someone getting a lump checked out.

          • reply Anjela ,

            It could also be a swollen lymph node! (Are you under the weather?) But can you get it checked out? It would be worth the peace of mind!

            • reply Jo MacQueen ,

              It could be an inflammed cyst. In which case, it will probably pop itself, but you’ll have to seek medical help with drainage anyway. If it’s that painful, a doctor might not be able to do anything but monitor it until it pops. It’s not fun, and I have the scar tissue to prove that.

              • reply Mean Waffle ,

                Even if it is a zit, zits in the armpit are hard to pop on your own (unless they’re reeeeally user friendly) because you can only use one hand and it’s hard to get a good look at them. It can also be deep enough that it would be difficult to pop for someone who can bring two hands to the project. That’s just the way those pores are.

                I’ve seen zits that needed hot compresses to come to a head and zits that needed antibiotics to come to a head. And my mom had a cyst that had to be lanced twice. Even if it is a zit, this is doctor-worthy. Especially because it hurts. You are not over-reacting even if it is a zit.

                • reply Tom Vinson ,

                  I’m going to the doc tomorrow to have him check a spot on my cheek that _might possibly_ be skin cancer. Take care of yourself and go see your nurse practitioner. (Purely selfish reason–I want to see the complete story of tunnel 17.)

                  • reply dester'edra ,

                    Probably just a cyst (red, sore, about the size of the pad on your little finger?), may be something else.

                    Seeing a doc, especially if you’ve been getting them repeatedly, may not be a bad idea. Even if it’s just a cyst, a dermatologist may be able to suggest some ways to make them happen less.

                    In the mean time, try some hot compresses when you get one of these suckers. If it’s something especially nasty, a hot compress probably won’t hurt it. And if it’s a cyst, the heat and moisture can open up the pore and help it drain faster.

                    • reply Uzuri ,

                      I’m with everyone else — check it.

                      And if it’s a cyst, watch yourself heating it to get it to go away. Sometimes it works, sometimes it encourages it to become a raging ball of infected hell. If it is a cyst, and it’s big, just have the doc remove it (you’ll never have to worry about it filling up again).

                      • reply Amy ,

                        If it’s growing suddenly, is larger than a zit, quite sore, and not coming to a head right away, still go see your doctor. It could be a staph infection, even MRSA. I’ve had a couple that I thought were just a spider bite or a pimple the first day, but then it went crazy out of control. Armpits and groins are a suprizingly common place to get them.

                        • reply Alice Under ,

                          Go to your doctor first thing tomorrow if you haven’t already! I had a similar thing on my back about a year ago and assumed it was just a really awful zit; I only went to the doctor when it suddenly became huge and unbearably painful. It was a cyst that got incredibly infected and the doctors were all like “OMG you could have died if it had burst” and operated on me immediately. Please get it checked out if it still hurts!

                          • reply Mark the Medic (ER PA, Virginia) ,

                            dester’edra called it — apply moist heat. Best combo is your (used) morning tea leaves (loose or bagged) and a freshly hard-boiled egg. Tea is an astringent (helps to open the pores; the egg is a heat-sink and its ovoid shape allows it to fit nicely into the armpit. Repeat as needed (3 times daily works well) and give it a solid week to resolve the problem. If it’s a pimple, zit, etc applying heat WON’T make it worse (but squeezing at it most likely will…) If it pops and drains, you win! If not, you have time in which to make an office appointment with someone you trust to look at it.

                            • reply Bianca ,

                              Just to reinforce the other 13 or so replies, go to the doctor please. No one will laugh at you, and they may be able to help clear up whatever it is faster. A swollen lymph node is a possibility and it may be a sign of an infection you may not have noticed, among other things.

                              I don’t want to scare you at all, and it probably IS just a zit, but that’s how I found my breast cancer – I had a spot under my arm that I thought was a really deep cyst, except it just didn’t go away for months. (On the plus side, mine never hurt, so pain is probably a good sign in this case.) I do not mess around with underarm bumps, and I encourage other women to take them seriously as well.

                              A quick visit and possibly an ultra sound will give you peace of mind. A little paranoia can actually be good for you – it probably saved my life.

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