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Patient Information Leaflets (PILs)

These Patient Information Leaflets (PILs) are specially written by the British Association of Dermatologists (BAD).

The BAD has been awarded The Information Standard certification for the process it employs to develop information products aimed at the general public, which include PILs, Sun Awareness Campaign materials, and other information products.

The BAD shall hold responsibility for the accuracy of the information published, and neither the scheme operator nor the scheme owner shall have any responsibility for costs, losses, or direct or indirect damages or costs arising from inaccuracy of information or omissions in information published on the website on behalf of the BAD.

Please note:

  1. There are thousands of different skin complaints, therefore, the focus of the British Association of Dermatologists' PILs production is on the most common, rarest or debilitating skin conditions.
  2. The offer to provide details of source materials used to inform the British Association of Dermatologists' PILs is for instances where the advice provided in the PILs does not reflect local practice and therefore evidence supporting said advice needs to be produced. It is not an offer to conduct literature searches or supply bibilographic materials for your own research.
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How to check your lymph nodes

The Lymphatic System

Lymph nodes are part of the lymphatic system, which is a network of tiny tubes that carry a colourless fluid called lymph through the skin and deeper parts of the body.  Lymph fluid contains immune cells (lymphocytes) nutrients and waste materials.

 Lymphatic Vessels

It bathes the cells of the skin and internal organs and   drains into lymphatic vessels then larger ducts in the neck before joining the blood stream near the heart (see Figure 1).

Lymph Nodes

Lymph nodes (‘glands’) are small oval nodules and contain millions of infections fighting lymphocyte cells.  They are found at intervals along the lymphatic vessels like ‘beads on a string’ (see Diagram 1). The lymph nodes filter out harmful organisms and abnormal cells before the lymph reaches the blood stream. Lymph nodes can only be felt in certain areas:

  • head and neck
  • arms
  • axilla (armpit)
  • inguinal area (groin)
  • back of knees

Lymph node are usually too small to feel except in slim people when they can be felt as smooth pea-sized lumps in the groin. Another common exception is when people get a sore throat or an ear infection, which can make the neck lymph nodes enlarged, painful and tender.

Lymph nodes can also become enlarged if cancer cells lodge in them. In this case, they are usually painless.

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