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Most of the time, itchy underarms are no more than mild irritation because of certain triggers like an insect bite. In other instances, the condition may be due to an underlying skin condition, such as eczema. But itchy armpit rash may also be a sign of cancer.

Is An Itchy Armpit A Sign of Cancer?

An itchy red rash on the armpit that has crossed a week’s mark may have to in dilemma whether it is cancer or not. Two types of cancers irritate the underarms: Inflammatory breast cancer and lymphoma.

Inflammatory Breast Cancer
Inflammatory Breast Cancer, or IBC for short, is one of the rare cancers that affect the breast, causing itching in it or its surrounding area, including the armpits. You will notice redness and swelling if there is a presence of IBC.

It is a cancer targeting the lymphatic system. A network of nodules running throughout the body and a crucial part of the immune system.

There are two types of lymphomas: Hodgkin’s lymphoma and Non-Hodgkin’s.
In both types, the lymphocytes multiply out of control, resulting in swelling throughout the body. If abnormal cells (Reed-Sternberg cells) are present in the body, then it is Hodgkin’s. If no abnormal cells are present, then it’s categorized as non-Hodgkin.

Be it any type amongst the two, both cause itchy skin, especially the armpits. Around 30% of patients having Hodgkin’s lymphoma have itching with high severity leading to a very negative impact on their quality of lives.

Around 62 to 83% of patients with T-cell lymphoma, a type of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, also suffer from itchy skin. This happens due to cytokines irritating the nerve endings of the skin.

Itchy Armpits That Need Medical Assistance

It is not rational to think of cancer right away. You must know that there is a wide variety of possible reasons behind an itchy underarm. Those may include strong skin products, allergies, fungal infection, or heat rash, to name a few.

In the case of lymphoma, some of these other signs and symptoms will show up:

  • Painless swelling of lymph nodes in the neck, armpits, or groin area.
  • Unexplained sudden weight loss.
  • Constant fatigue
  • Fever and chills
  • Shortness of breath
  • Night sweats

As for IBC, some other signs and symptoms include:

  • Redness and swelling on the breast.
  • Thickening of the breast skin
  • Pitting of the breast skin
  • Inverted nipple
  • Tender or itchy breast
  • Pain in breast
  • Swelled up lymph nodes under the arms or near the collarbone.

If you check off most of these signs, then it is time to get a doctor’s appointment for a detailed review.


Even if you think it is not cancer, you should seek medical help for your itchy skin if it decreases your quality of life. If your itch does not go away in a few days or, in fact, worsens even after home remedies, consult one of our specialists at Family Diagnostics for help.

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