Navigate Up

Seniors Center - A-Z Index

#
Q
Y
Z

Print This Page

Skin lumps

Skin lumps are any abnormal bump or swelling on the skin.

Considerations

Many people wonder if small bumps or lumps on the body are something to worry about. Most lumps and swellings are benign (not cancerous) and are harmless, especially the kind that feel soft and roll easily (lipomas).

A lump or swelling that appears suddenly (over 24 - 48 hours) and is painful is usually caused by an injury or an infection.

Common Causes

  • Lipomas, fatty lumps under the skin
  • Enlarged lymph glands , usually in the armpits, neck, and groin
  • Cyst , a closed sac in or under the skin that is lined with skin tissue and contains fluid or semisolid material
  • Benign skin growths such as seborrheic keratoses or neurofibromas
  • Boils , painful, red bumps usually involving a hair follicle
  • Corn or callus, caused by skin thickening in response to continued pressure (for example, from shoes) and usually occurring on a toe or foot
  • Warts , a skin virus that develops a rough, hard bump, usually appearing on a hand or foot and often with tiny black dots in the bump
  • Moles , skin-colored, tan, or brown bumps on the skin
  • Abscess , infected fluid trapped in a closed space from which it cannot escape
  • Cancer of the skin (colored or pigmented spot that bleeds easily, changes size or shape, or crusts and doesn't heal)

Home Care

Skin lumps from trauma can be treated with rest, ice, compression, and elevation. Most other lumps should be looked at by your health care provider before you try any home treatments.

Call your health care provider if

Call your provider if there is any unexplained lump or swelling.

What to expect at your health care provider's office

Your doctor will perform a physical exam and ask you questions about your symptoms, including:

  • Where is the lump?
  • When did you first notice it?
  • Is there more than one lump?
  • Is it painful?
  • What does the lump look like?
  • What other symptoms do you have?

Your doctor may prescribe antibiotics if you have an infection. If cancer is suspected, a biopsy may be done.

Updated: 5/13/2011

Kevin Berman, MD, PhD, Atlanta Center for Dermatologic Disease, Atlanta, GA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.  Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.


©  UPMC | Affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences
Supplemental content provided by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions. All rights reserved.

For help in finding a doctor or health service that suits your needs, call the UPMC Referral Service at 412-647-UPMC (8762) or 1-800-533-UPMC (8762). Select option 1.

UPMC is an equal opportunity employer. UPMC policy prohibits discrimination or harassment on the basis of race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, age, sex, genetics, sexual orientation, marital status, familial status, disability, veteran status, or any other legally protected group status. Further, UPMC will continue to support and promote equal employment opportunity, human dignity, and racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity. This policy applies to admissions, employment, and access to and treatment in UPMC programs and activities. This commitment is made by UPMC in accordance with federal, state, and/or local laws and regulations.

Medical information made available on UPMC.com is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should not rely entirely on this information for your health care needs. Ask your own doctor or health care provider any specific medical questions that you have. Further, UPMC.com is not a tool to be used in the case of an emergency. If an emergency arises, you should seek appropriate emergency medical services.

For UPMC Mercy Patients: As a Catholic hospital, UPMC Mercy abides by the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, as determined by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. As such, UPMC Mercy neither endorses nor provides medical practices and/or procedures that contradict the moral teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.

© UPMC
Pittsburgh, PA, USA UPMC.com