Infected Underarm & Exercise

Getting your daily dose of exercise is the best way to stay healthy and in shape 2. Exercising involves movement and aerobic activity that can include raising your arms and generating range of motion. If you have an infected underarm area, it can be challenging and painful to complete any type of exercise 2. While you are healing, there are ways you can sooth the affected area.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.


An infection that occurs on your underarm can have a variety of causes. One of the most common is from a scratch, sore or incision that has not healed properly. The area in and around the sore can become infected. Signs of infection include an area under the arm or on the skin that resembles a bite or small bump. The skin is generally raised and red. The area may be hot to the touch as well as painful. In some cases, there may be drainage of yellow, green or red fluid. A staph infection can also set in if you have a sore or cut that is open. A staph infection can easily spread through your bloodstream to your bones and vital organs. A more serious type of infection includes MRSA, or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus 1. While the symptoms of a MRSA infection are similar to regular staph infections, MRSA can be resistant to regular antibiotics, making it difficult to treat 1. Your lymph nodes can also become infected--a condition called lymphadenitis, which can cause painful bumps in in your armpits that can make movement challenging. Cellulitus is also a type of infection of the skin. It can cause redness and weeping wounds that are painful to the touch. An infected hair follicle can also cause underarm irritiation.

Exercise Complications

When you have to move your upper body when you have an infection, you can easily tear open a wound. This can make exercise excruciating as your skin rubs together 2. It can also slow your overall healing time. Wearing at the skin through exercise can break it down and could cause the infection to spread, especially with MRSA and staph infections 1. Upper arm exercises related to pushups, situps, arm curls and resistance training can cause infected skin to tear open or rub against clothing.


Avoiding exercise until your infection and skin area has healed is the best way to recover fully 2. If you have to exercise, make sure to cover open wounds to prevent the spread of infection and keep the sore clean 2. If you do exercise, be sure to perform movements that will not cause the skin to tear. Use a cold compress over a covered wound or lymph node to reduce swelling and dull pain. Visit your doctor for an accurate diagnosis and treatment. Follow all treatment recommendations and take antibiotics as directed.


Never use a cream or solution on an open wound unless prescribed by your doctor--this could lead to complications and lengthen healing time. If you begin experiencing extreme pain and swelling in the underarm, stop your workout and seek medical help. If your infection is not being treated you may experience a fever. If this occurs, be sure to stay hydrated and use acetaminophen or aspirin to reduce your fever until you see your doctor.