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What is a lymph node?

Lymph nodes are present throughout the body, and they play an important role in the immune system by protecting the body from infections.

Lymph nodes can be located just under the skin, or deep inside the body. Lymph vessels connect them.

Lymph nodes of the groin area

The groin area is also known as the inguinal area. The nodes in this area receive lymph from the feet, legs, groin and genital organs. Femoral or inguinal lymph nodes may be swollen.

What causes swollen lymph nodes in the groin area?

Conditions that may cause swelling in this area are:

Infection - usually bacterial, but they can also be viral, fungal or parasitic.

Inflammatory diseases

Trauma - any injury to this area may cause swelling of the lymph nodes, which usually go back to normal when the injury heals.

Malignancy - Lymphomas and other cancers that spread to the lymph nodes and vessels cause an enlargement of the inguinal lymph nodes.

Benign cysts like the Bartholin cysts located near the vaginal opening can lead to swollen lymph nodes. Benign cysts are usually filled with fluid, air or semi-solid material. If left untreated, they can become infected and filled with pus.

Hernia - inguinal or femoral hernia

STD (Sexually transmitted diseases) - any untreated STD can cause swelling of the lymph nodes. Syphilis, for example.

Testicular torsion - usually in children and adolescents.

What are the symptoms of a swollen lymph node in the groin area?

These lymph nodes are superficial, and they usually can be seen and palpated. Depending on the underlying cause, swelling of the lymph nodes is accompanied by other symptoms.

If the cause is an infection, fever, chills, redness and warmth around the area affected are possible symptoms. Cancer may lead to nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, rapid weight loss, and generally feeling ill.

How are the enlarged lymph nodes diagnosed?

Your doctor will go through your medical history and carry out a physical examination first. They may also order a blood test, do an ultrasound or a CT scan of the affected area, and do a lymph node biopsy if cancer is suspected.

How are swollen lymph nodes in the groin area treated?

Treatment of enlarged lymph nodes in the groin area depends on the cause. Some swollen lymph nodes return to normal when the underlying condition, such as a minor infection, resolves.

However, you should seek medical help if these nodes have appeared for no reason, if they continue to increase in size, have been present for more than two weeks, are accompanied by other symptoms, or if they are hard, rubbery and not mobile when you push on them.

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