You have 10 lymph nodes in each groin area. They are part of your body’s natural defense against disease. Swollen lymph nodes are typically a sign of an infection. But it’s important to see your healthcare provider to know for sure.
Lymph nodes are small, rounded structures (glands) that are part of your immune system. They are fleshy and they filter the lymph, a fluid with a special type of white blood cell that helps the body fight infection.
Lymph nodes are in clusters throughout the body, including:
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These lymph nodes are deep within the groin. There are 10 inguinal nodes near the upper thigh in each leg.
Under normal circumstances, you might not notice your lymph nodes. When they try to rid the body of harmful substances, extra cell activity causes them to enlarge. The area beneath your skin becomes puffy and may be sensitive to touch.
Swollen lymph nodes often mean your body is fighting an infection like an ingrown nail, an insect bite or a dog bite. But they can also signal other conditions affecting the lower body.
Swelling in the inguinal lymph nodes may be due to:
Less common causes include:
Healthcare providers will take a medical history and perform a thorough physical exam that considers all possible causes. It includes:
Taking a medical history by asking about:
Conducting a physical exam, which includes:
Healthcare providers may recommend:
Treatments depend on the cause:
Steps you can take include:
It depends. If your treatment includes medications like antibiotics or antivirals, swelling should go down within a few days, but it can take a few weeks.
People with swelling due to infection typically make a full recovery. The condition does not affect your long-term health.
If the swelling does not go away after taking medications, follow up with your healthcare provider. They may recommend more tests, treatments or a biopsy.
The chances of swollen inguinal lymph nodes being cancer are low, and there are typically other symptoms with cancer. If you have concerns, talk with your healthcare provider.
What are some signs it might be cancer?
Issues that may signal the need for tests to check for cancer include lymph nodes that:
A note from Cleveland Clinic
If you detect swelling in the inguinal lymph nodes, see your healthcare provider. Treatment often includes medications. And symptoms usually go away in a few days. Remember, there can be many causes for swollen lymph nodes. They are often due to an infection and rarely a sign of cancer.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 08/10/2021.
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