Lymph nodes are little kidney or oval-shaped glands in the lymphatic system that plays a vital role in the body’s immune response. They separate bacteria and other invaders before these pathogens can return to the bloodstream.
Swollen glands are a hallmark sign that your body is reacting to an infection.
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Lymph nodes exist everywhere in the body, including the skull’s back area, called the occipital region. Therefore, doctors apply to nodes in this area as occipital lymph nodes.
Many times, people cannot see their occipital lymph nodes. When they are standard in size, they are challenging to identify.
At this point in the pandemic, you’re relatively familiar with the list of possible COVID-19 symptoms, including fever, body aches, chills, a dry cough, shortness of breath, and a loss of taste or smell.
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Lymph node swollen flu shot
Swollen lymph nodes are an immune response to vaccinations and can occur after getting the flu shot or HPV vaccine. The swelling falls within a few weeks and occurs on the body side where the vaccination was administered.
I also wrote a tutorial on Is The Flu A Coronavirus Type? that you can follow.
Are swollen lymph nodes a symptom of COVID-19?
If you have symptoms apart from neck swelling, recommend isolating yourself and getting tested. If the lymph nodes are your single symptom, please reach out to the healthcare provider for a complete examination.
Swollen glands are caused by several things, including cold and flu, mononucleosis, sexually transmitted diseases, skin infections, rheumatoid arthritis, and certain types of cancers, all of which deserve a check-up.
Causes of swelling
A variety of skin infections can harm the scalp, which can cause the occipital lymph nodes to swell. In few cases, the swelling of these lymph nodes can be a sign of cancer.
The common causes of swollen occipital lymph nodes include:
A person has an open cut or turned on their scalp, bacteria enter the skin and produce an infection. If a person scratches the skin or hits their head on something and cuts the scalp, they can do this.
The occipital lymph nodes can swell as they collect the bacteria. Other signs of a skin infection include:
- Redness around the injury
- Red streaks in the skin
- Swelling, pain, or warmth
- Blister-like sores
- Yellow drainage or crust
Those are tiny insects that attach to a person’s hair and hurt the scalp. They spread smoothly, usually direct contact with the hair of someone who has head lice.
If a person gets head lice, they notice intense itching of the scalp. However, extreme scratching can cause open sores and bacterial infection, starting to swollen lymph nodes.
Many cases of lice respond correctly with over-the-counter medications. A doctor can give information about effective treatment options.
Ringworm is a very contagious fungal infection. When it affects your scalp, it is called tinea capitis. It can cause swelling of the occipital lymph nodes.
- Bald patches on the scalp
According to the Centers for Disease Control, ringworm on the scalp requires a prescription oral antifungal treatment for 1–3 months.
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If the person has swollen occipital lymph nodes, a doctor tries to find the cause. They can also check the scalp for signs of infection or cancer.
In some cases, a physical exam can be sufficient. However, if a doctor needs to check for cancer, they can perform a biopsy, taking a small skin sample, and sending it to a lab for examination.
The treatment for swollen occipital lymph nodes depends on their cause. For example, minor skin infections can only need home care during a prescription for complex infections like ringworm.
Occipital lymph nodes go back to normal after a person gets treatment for the underlying cause.
When to see a doctor
Swollen occipital lymph nodes are a sign of an infection on the scalp. They should see a doctor if they do not go away after some days or occur besides other symptoms, such as fever.
Swollen occipital lymph nodes are generally not a cause for alarm. Instead, they are a sign that the immune system is fighting off an enemy.
However, people should talk with the doctor if their lymph nodes do not return to normal within a few days. A doctor can help manage severe conditions and prescribe treatment if necessary.
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