Anyone concerned about a lump under their skin should consult with a skin specialist as soon as possible. Dermatologists are specially trained to evaluate and treat conditions that affect the skin.
Lumps under the skin aren’t always a cause for concern. In fact, most lumps are harmless. Common causes include fluid-filled cysts and fatty growths. Dermatologist Yvonne Hines, MD, at Hines Dermatology Associates is backed by over three decades of experience caring for patients with a broad range of skin needs.
If you have a change to your skin or notice something out of the ordinary, don’t try to diagnose it yourself. Dr. Hines is your first line of defense. Leave it to her to evaluate your skin and get to the bottom of what’s going on.
Here are some common causes of lumps under the skin.
Skin cysts are usually small and painless, but if they grow too large or become infected, they can cause problems. Numerous cysts can make you feel self-conscious about your skin.
Cysts are divided into two categories:
Epidermoid cysts are harmless cysts that grow slowly and commonly appear on the face, head, neck, back, or genitals. They’re usually caused by a buildup of keratin beneath the skin, and if infected, they can become swollen, red, and painful.
Sebaceous cysts, which are caused by blocked hair follicles, can appear on the face, neck, or torso. Although cysts are noncancerous and tend to grow slowly, they can become large, causing pain and pressure.
Skin cysts can appear for a variety of reasons, and the cause isn't always obvious. Cysts can run in families and are sometimes linked to acne. They’re more common in men than in women, though cysts around hair follicles are more common in women.
When the skin or hair follicle is damaged, a cyst can form. That’s why some types of hair removal can result in cysts where the hairs have become ingrown.
Cysts are frequently confused with other types of skin growths, such as boils and abscesses, so it takes an expert eye to make a proper diagnosis.
A lipoma is a lump of tissue that grows just beneath the skin and is round or oval. It's made of fat, moves easily when touched, and usually doesn't hurt. Lipomas can appear anywhere on the body, but the back, trunk, arms, shoulders, and neck are the most common sites.
They’re not cancerous or harmful and usually grow slowly. The majority of lipomas don't require treatment. Lipomas most commonly appear between the ages of 40 and 60, but they can occur at any age. They may even be present at birth.
Lipomas affect both men and women, but women are slightly more likely to develop them.
Sometimes lipomas can cause problems. If they’re located in an area where they’re pressing against a nerve, or they form near a joint, Dr. Hines may recommend removal.
Dermatofibromas are hard lumps under the skin that often appear brown or red. They usually appear on exposed skin areas like the legs, arms, and back. Dermatofibromas don’t turn cancerous and don’t usually cause symptoms.
In some cases, however, dermatofibromas may itch or become irritated.
Excess cells collecting in the dermis, the thickest layer of the skin, cause dermatofibromas to develop.
If a dermatofibroma is unsightly or bothersome, treatments such as liquid nitrogen and corticosteroid injections can help remove them.
Swollen lymph nodes
Lymph nodes are small glands that filter harmful substances from lymph fluid, a clear liquid that circulates through lymphatic vessels. Lymph nodes can swell because of bacterial or viral infections. When they swell, they may become painful.
The most common areas of swollen lymph nodes include the head, neck, armpits, and groin.
Swollen lymph nodes are usually temporary. Once the infection is gone, the lymph nodes return to their normal size.
These are just a few things that can cause lumps under the skin. If you’re concerned about a lump beneath your skin, it’s wise to reach out to a skin specialist. Dr. Hines provides the highest level of care and finds solutions for simple, complex, and rare cases.
To have your lump evaluated, give us a call at 508-222-1976 to schedule a visit with Dr. Hines at our Attleboro, Massachusetts, office.
Another option is to send a message to Dr. Hines and the team conveniently from our website.