Occipital Lymph Nodes: Causes, Symptoms, and Remedies

Occipital Lymph Nodes

Occipital lymph nodes are located in the back of the head, particularly near the skull’s occipital bone. Likewise, they are small lumps of tissues that contain white blood cells, which are a part of your body’s immune system in fighting infection.

There are about one to three occipital lymph nodes on the backside of the head, close enough to the trapezius margin and on the insertion of the semispinalis capitis muscles.

Further, each node encompasses a bean-like shape connected by the lymphatic vessels. These nodes contain lymphocytes that trap and kill bacteria, germs, viruses, and other foreign substances.

Moreover, several factors might contribute to a swollen lymph node. One of the common reasons is when the number of lymphocytes inside the node increases due to an infection. These nodes might get bigger if the inflammation gets worsen.

This article discusses the probable causes of swollen occipital lymph nodes, along with their symptoms, treatments, and the best time to visit a doctor.


Occipital Lymph Node Swelling Pictures
Occipital Lymph Node Swelling Pictures

Certainly, you’ll see and feel a swollen occipital lymph node, which can be painful or tender when touched. In response to infection, stress, or illness, lymph nodes usually become swollen. Subsequently, swollen lymph nodes show that your lymphatic system works to eliminate the responsible agents from your body.

For example, swollen lymph glands present in the neck and head are caused by illnesses, like:

  • Cold or flu
  • HIV infection
  • Ear infection
  • Sinus infection
  • Mono or mononucleosis
  • Infected tooth
  • Strep throat
  • Skin infection

There are usually a few medications and medication allergic reactions, resulting in swollen lymph nodes. Antimalarial, as well as antiseizure drugs, can contribute to these effects. In addition, sexually transmitted infections (like gonorrhea or syphilis) can cause swelling of the lymph node in the groin area. Other important causes of the swollen lymph nodes include:

  • Ear infections
  • Car scratch fever
  • Hodgkin’s disease
  • Gingivitis
  • Mouth sores
  • Metastasized cancer
  • Leukemia
  • Tonsillitis
  • Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
  • Measles
  • Shingles
  • Sézary syndrome
  • Tuberculosis
  • Toxoplasmosis

And, there are more severe circumstances, like cancers or immune system disorders, causing the swelling in the lymph nodes. Besides, rheumatoid arthritis and lupus can also contribute to a swollen lymph node.

Cancer that starts in the lymph nodes is known as lymphoma. It can appear in two ways: cancer cells start there or spread somewhere else.

To clarify, the survival rate gradually decreases when cancer spreads from one area to the lymph nodes. Lymphoma often begins with lymph nodes but can also found in the stomach, intestine, skin, or other organs.

Furthermore, once a lymph node increases in size, you need to seek medical recommendations during this condition, especially when your fever keeps coming and going for several weeks.

The signs include rashes and itches in the skin. Similarly, fatigue, inadequate sleep, and difficulty in swallowing are considered other lymphoma symptoms. It also caused unexplained weight loss for some.


When there’s a problem in your body, lymph nodes enlarge to fight “bad” cells. Moreover, some symptoms help locate where the problem exists. For instance, swollen lymph nodes near your ear indicate that you have an ear infection.

Swollen occipital lymph nodes have many symptoms. For example, when you make certain movements, lymph nodes usually hurt. They are very painful to touch in some cases.

Similarly, you’ll feel pain when chewing food or turning your head in a definite way; the swollen lymph nodes usually hurt.

Additionally, some other symptoms may be present along with the swollen lymph nodes, such as:

If you experienced any of the symptoms, plus painful swollen lymph nodes, consult your doctor immediately. Take note: swollen and sore lymph nodes could be a sign of cancer.


Treating swollen occipital lymph nodes may vary because they might have different causes and symptoms.

You can treat minor problems at home, which include:

  • Applying a warm compress
  • Getting enough sleep and rest
  • Using apple cider vinegar
  • Drinking oregano and eating healthy foods
  • Getting vitamin C
  • Avoiding stress

For more complicated swollen lymph nodes, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics or antiviral medications. Moreover, they can also give you medications, like ibuprofen (Advil) and aspirin, to fight inflammation and pain.

Key Takeaways

To sum up, occipital lymph nodes aren’t alarming. They are your immune system’s sign that it’s fighting off an infection.

Above all, knowing the causes, symptoms, and remedies for swollen occipital lymph nodes is beneficial.

If you’re experiencing serious and severe swollen lymph nodes (and those that don’t go back normal within few days), visit your doctor immediately.


Hardip Koradia

Hardip Koradia is a pro health blogger with years of experience in writing resourceful articles on different health topics like alternative health, natural health, home remedies, yoga, diet, etc. His passion for health inspired him to start AyurHealthTips, a growing health blog.

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