Lumps Under the Skin

Skin lumps can form on the surface or beneath the skin. Lumps below the skin can develop due to various skin conditions, such as lipomas, cyst, fibromas, and skin abscess, to name a few.
HealthHearty Staff
Last Updated: Mar 12, 2018
Lumps under the skin or on its surface are usually benign or non-cancerous, and so, not a major health concern. Such lumps can appear anywhere on the body, and may or may not be painful. Some lumps on the other hand, are movable.
It has been observed that some people can get skin lumps more frequently than others. More commonly, skin lumps appear on the legs, arms, armpit, neck, and face. But sometimes, they can develop on other parts of the body as well.
Lumps beneath the skin can be caused by a range of skin conditions, as well as certain health problems. Some of these conditions can resolve on their own, while others may require medical intervention. Given below are some of the most common types of lumps that can appear on or under the skin.
Different Types of Skin Lumps and their Causes
Lipomas are one of the most common types of lumps to appear under the skin. Lipomas are soft fatty lumps or nodules, which have rubbery consistency. They usually develop when fat tissues clump together. This type of lumps can be slightly moved, by applying pressure on them. Lipomas can appear in any part of the body, but more commonly, they can be found in areas, like the shoulders, neck, chest, back, and the trunk region. Lipomas are usually benign.
Another common type of skin lump is a cyst, which can be termed as a fluid-filled, closed sac. Cysts can be of different types. It could be a cystic lesion, also known as acne, or an epidermoid or sebaceous cyst. Sebaceous cysts are very common and they develop, when the oil or sebaceous glands get clogged. One can get this type of bumps on the face, neck, back, scalp, and the trunk region. Another common type of cyst is the ganglion cyst, which typically appears on the hands or wrists. It can also appear on the feet, ankles, and knees.
Swollen Glands
Sometimes, swollen lymph nodes can also look like lumps developed beneath the skin. This type of lumps can be more frequently found on the neck, under the jaw, groin, behind the ear and armpit. The lymph nodes or glands can enlarge due to trauma or injury, and infections. On the other hand, a lump on the front of the neck, just below the Adam's apple, can be an enlarged thyroid gland or an abnormal growth on the gland.
Hard, red or brownish, and raised nodules that develop on or under the skin, especially on the arms or legs, can be dermatofibromas. A fibroma is basically a tumor, consisting of fibrous connective tissues. Dermatofibromas are usually firm and they are harmless.
Cutaneous Neurofibroma
Another type of skin lump is cutaneous neurofibroma, that can develop from small nerves in or under the skin. Neurofibromas are usually found among the individuals affected with the condition, known as neurofibromatosis type I. Some women may develop cutaneous neurofibromas during pregnancy. Neurofibromas are usually benign or non-cancerous, but may cause itching.
A hernia develops, when an organ or an internal part of the body protrudes due to the rupture in the surrounding smooth muscle tissues. Hernias usually occur in the abdominal region. One of the most common types of hernia is known as inguinal hernia, which appears as a soft lump in the groin or the navel region.
Rheumatoid Nodules
The rheumatoid nodules usually develop in individuals with severe rheumatoid arthritis. They typically appear as firm lumps located beneath the skin, near the affected joints. They are more commonly found in the hands, fingers, elbows, and knuckles. Sometimes, they can also develop in the internal organs.
Corns and Warts
A corn is formed due to the thickening of the skin and can be commonly found on the dorsal surface of the toes and fingers. On the other hand, warts are caused by viral infections and they usually appear as small, hard and rough lumps, in the hands and feet.
Cancerous Lumps
Sometimes, lumps that develop below the skin can be malignant or cancerous. Cancerous skin lumps are usually hard and firm, and can be characterized by irregular shapes. There can be a change in their size and shape as well.
A Few Other Causes
A few other possible causes of lumps beneath the skin are, folliculitis, carbuncle, boils or skin abscess. Folliculitis refers to the infection and inflammation of a hair follicle, while a carbuncle is a type of skin infection that causes the appearance of pus-filled bumps under the skin. It typically involves more than one hair follicle and is commonly caused by the bacteria, Staphylococcus aureus, or Streptococcus pyogenes. On the other hand, a boil can be described as a deep skin infection, that begins in a hair follicle or sebaceous gland. A skin abscess is nothing but an accumulation of infected material, along with pus in the skin. Apart from these, injury or trauma can also cause the development of lumps beneath the skin.
Treatment for Skin Lumps
Treatment for skin lumps will depend on the specific type, which can be determined by visiting a health care provider. Skin lumps are usually non-cancerous and many of them resolve on their own, without requiring any medical intervention. If the lump is a cyst, abscess or cystic acne, then it may need to be drained at times. Sometimes, cortisone medications may be required to shrink large cysts. As far as dermatofibromas and neurofibromas are concerned, they usually do not require any treatment. If they are too large and do not go away spontaneously, then physicians may opt for surgical removal of the lumps. Similarly, lipomas also do not need any treatment, unless they get infected, which is however, quite rare. They can be removed surgically, or a small incision can be made to squeeze out their contents.
Frequent and recurring lumps however, need to be properly evaluated with the help of an experienced physician. The same goes for hernias as well. Lumps, especially the hard ones, and those that change color and size, may be malignant. Cancerous lumps are rarely painful and usually, they cannot be moved around. Development of lumps all over the body, as well as swollen lymph nodes, can be an indicator of some serious underlying diseases, and hence, should be medically evaluated as soon as possible.
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only, and should not be treated as a substitute for professional medical advice.