How are swollen lymph nodes treated?
If swollen lymph nodes are only found in one area of your body it’s called localized swollen lymph nodes. And most of the time, you have a virus ― so there’s no treatment truly needed and it will just run its course. The nodes will gradually shrink back to their normal size.
For some infections (like pink eye or tinea), your doctor may prescribe an antiviral or antibiotic to clear it up.
When swollen lymph nodes are found in two or more areas (generalized swollen lymph nodes), it usually points to a more serious systemic (meaning it’s all over your body) disease. These are wide-ranging and include:
- Autoimmune diseases (like lupus or rheumatoid arthritis).
- Sexually transmitted infections (like HIV or syphilis).
- Bacterial infections (like Lyme disease or typhoid fever).
- Viral infections (like measles or Epstein-Barr).
- Cancers (like lymphoma or leukemia).
These conditions will require more aggressive treatments over a longer period of time. Your swollen lymph nodes may not return to their normal size until after your treatment has ended.
How to ease pain from swollen lymph nodes
You may feel a bit sore and tender. Try using a warm compress (like a microwavable rice sock or similar heating pad) and over-the-counter pain medications like ibuprofen (Advil®, Motrin®) and acetaminophen (Tylenol®). These treatments won’t shrink the nodes, but they’ll help ease your pain temporarily until your body fights off the infection or illness successfully.
Are swollen lymph nodes contagious?
No, swollen lymph nodes themselves aren’t contagious. You can’t just catch them. But if they were caused by a contagious virus (like cold and flu), you can spread those to your family and others around you.