Symptoms and Treatment
If you find a lump under your skin, it’s natural to worry. However, in the vast majority of cases, lumps are nothing to be concerned about.
Lumps can occur pretty much anywhere on the body, and understandably some places will cause more anxiety than others. Take a look at our quick guide below to see some of the things your lump might be.
What could your lump be?
Lipoma - These non-cancerous lumps of fat are commonly found in areas such as the neck, shoulders and back, but can occur anywhere. A lipoma will feel soft and rubbery when you press it. They’re not dangerous, but can be inconvenient if they are in a visible part of the body.
Cyst - Cysts tend to occur on the hands, fingers, arms, shoulders and back, while they can also appear in the groin area. Cysts are full of fluid or pus and will usually go down on their own. They don’t normally grow much larger than a pea, although in some cases they might need draining.
Wart - Warts are rough, hard lumps usually found on the face, hands, fingers, and feet. Unlike many lumps, they are contagious, so if you get one, you need to be careful not to pass it on. Genital warts can be caught through contact with an infected person and should be treated as soon as possible.
Warts can take up to two years to fully go away, but there are treatments you can discuss with a doctor if you wish.
Skin tag - A skin tag looks a little like a wart and hangs off the body in places where skin rubs against skin, such as the breast, anus or armpit. They are not a risk to your health and can be left alone.
Swollen glands - Swollen glands can occur if you have an infection or fever, particularly in your neck, armpit or groin. In some cases, they are a sign of a condition that you might want to speak to a doctor about.
For example, swelling around the face could indicate mumps, while a swollen thyroid gland could cause you to develop a goitre (a large swelling in your neck). Swollen glands will usually disappear once your infection has cleared up.
Abscess - An abscess is a pus-filled lump that can be very painful. The most common form of abscess occurs in your teeth, meaning the lump will be on the side of your face.
You can also find lumps in areas such as your testicles, breasts and anus. These areas tend to cause more concern than others, but lumps here are often just as harmless as they are elsewhere.
A lump on your testicles could be a cyst or fluid build-up, while, a lump around the anus could be a haemorrhoid, more commonly known as piles. A lump inside the breast could indicate a condition called mastitis, where the breast tissue becomes inflamed. If left untreated, mastitis can lead to abscesses.
As usual, it’s best to see a doctor if you’re unsure.
When Should You See a Doctor?
You should consult a doctor as soon as you become concerned about a lump. It’s very important not to self-diagnose in this situation. Even if it turns out to be nothing, finding out for sure will allow you to carry on with your usual routine without it hovering around in the back of your mind.
In particular, you should book an appointment if the skin around your lump is red, itchy or hot. This could indicate you have an infection, so the quicker you treat this, the quicker it’ll go away.
Additionally, it’s important to book a consultation if your lump has got a lot bigger in a short space of time, is causing you pain or discomfort, or if it’s hard when you press down on it. If you find a lump in a similar spot to where you’ve had one before, it’s a good idea to get that checked out too.
Updated: December 17, 2020