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Lump on Scalp: Causes and Treatment

Major Causes of a Lump Formation on the Scalp and its Treatment

The contributing factors for the development of a lump on the scalp could include conditions such as pilar cysts or sebaceous cysts. This HealthHearty write-up provides information on these conditions.
Kalpana Kumari
Last Updated: Mar 12, 2018
A lump can be described as a localized area of swelling. While a large lump is bound to be a cause of cosmetic concern, it can also be accompanied by symptoms such as pain, itching, redness, inflammation. More often than not, poor hygiene could make one susceptible to such problems. The development of such a mass or bump could be attributed to inflammation or infection due to bacteria or other pathogens. These can be treated with drug therapy, and resolve once the infection subsides. However, medical assistance must be sought to rule out serious conditions such as tumors.
Contributing Factors
At times, a lump could appear on the scalp due to the formation of a sebaceous cyst. Damage to the hair follicles on the scalp or trauma to the scalp could lead to clogging of sebaceous glands, which in turn might lead the formation of such cysts. So, sebaceous cysts are closed sacs that get filled with dead skin cells and sebum, which is an oily secretion that is produced by the sebaceous glands located under the skin.
Though epidermoid cysts and pilar cysts are referred to as sebaceous cysts, these aren't true sebaceous cysts. These are closed sacs that are filled with keratin, a fibrous scleroprotein that is present in the skin, hair, and nails. Pilar cysts, which are also called trichilemmal cysts, are more likely to appear on the scalp, when compared to epidermal cysts.
The development of a boil or abscess on the scalp could also give rise to a lump on the scalp. Boils are mostly caused by the Staphylococcus aureus bacterium. It is a skin infection that involves one or more hair follicles. When the hair follicle gets damaged, the infection spreads deeper into the follicle and the underlying tissues. This leads to the formation of a lump that is filled with pus. Fluid may drain out of the carbuncle, but sometimes the mass is so deep that it cannot drain on its own.
In some cases, the lump could be a benign or malignant growth. If the lump has been growing, it is advisable to consult a doctor for proper diagnosis.
Treatment Options
A cyst on the scalp would not only look unsightly, these could be accompanied by pain. Thus, it is advisable to consult a dermatologist at the earliest. Sebaceous, epidermal, and pilar cysts could get infected, which in turn would give rise to a host of symptoms. In such cases, drug therapy is required to alleviate the infection. At times, a drug (cortisone) might be injected into the cyst to reduce inflammation and the size of the cyst. At times, the cyst might be pierced with a scalpel, and the contents of the cyst would be drained. However, it has been observed that cysts often recur after this treatment. In some cases, the cyst might be vaporized by using a carbon dioxide laser. It must be noted that the laser treatment could cause minimal scarring. In some cases, the surgical removal of the cyst is recommended.
In case of a large boil/abscess, the doctor would drain out the contents of the boil. It is essential to keep the affected area clean. One must wash hands with an antiseptic soap, especially after touching the boil. Antibiotics can be applied on the affected area to prevent bacterial infection.
On a concluding note, practicing good hygiene is essential to lower the risk of such conditions. So, keep your scalp clean by using a good quality shampoo. If you have dandruff, it's advisable to apply a medicated shampoo. If you have a bump or lump that seems to be growing, you should seek medical assistance for proper diagnosis and treatment.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.