Springdale Mason Pediatrics

Lymph Node - Normal

Definition

  • Lymph nodes are small bean-shaped lumps found under the skin
  • Also called lymph glands
  • They help the body fight infections

Call or Return If

  • A lymph node starts to look infected
  • A lymph node becomes 1 inch (2.5 cm) or larger in size
  • You have other questions or concerns

About This Topic

Symptoms

  • Normal lymph nodes are found in the neck, armpit and groin.
  • Usually they are the same size on both side of the body.
  • The easiest one to feel is the one that drains the tonsils. It's in the neck just under the angle of the jaw.
  • Normal nodes are usually less than ½ inch (12 mm) across. This is the size of a pea or baked bean. They also feel soft and are easy to move.
  • Swollen nodes with a viral infection are usually ½ to 1 inch (12 -25 mm) across.
  • Swollen nodes with a bacterial infection are usually over 1 inch (25 mm) across. This is about the size of a quarter.

Cause

  • Over 100 normal lymph nodes are located on the surface of the body. Over 400 others are inside the chest, abdomen and deep tissues. They are all connected by lymph channels.
  • Normal nodes can usually be felt in the neck and groin crease.
  • They are on guard to fight infections. They also can react to any skin irritation (such as an insect bite).

Common Objects Used to Guess the Size

  • Pea or pencil eraser- 1/4 inch or 6 mm
  • Dime- 3/4 inch or 1.8 cm
  • Quarter- 1 inch or 2.4 cm
  • Golf ball- 1 1/2 inches or 3.6 cm
  • Tennis Ball- 2 1/2 inches or 6 cm

After Care Advice

Overview:
  • You have found a pea-sized or bean-sized normal node.
  • Normal lymph nodes are smaller than ½ inch or 12 mm across.
  • Don't look for lymph nodes, because you can always find some.
  • They are easy to find in the neck and groin.
  • They are a wonderful defense against infections.
Treatment:
  • No treatment is needed for normal lymph nodes.
Avoid Squeezing:
  • Don't squeeze lymph nodes.
  • Reason: This may cause them to swell up.
What to Expect:
  • Normal lymph nodes won't ever completely go away.
  • They are easiest to find in slender children.
 

Author: Barton Schmitt MD, FAAP
Copyright 2000-2020 Schmitt Pediatric Guidelines LLC
Disclaimer: This health information is for educational purposes only. You the reader assume full responsibility for how you choose to use it.
Article 2661