Skin lumps

Definition

Skin lumps are any abnormal bumps or swellings on or under the skin.

Considerations

Most lumps and swellings are benign (not cancerous) and are harmless, especially the kind that feel soft and roll easily under the fingers (such as lipomas and cysts).

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

Causes

Common causes of skin lumps include:

Home Care

Skin lumps from an injury 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.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

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

What to Expect at Your Office Visit

Your provider will perform a physical exam and ask about your symptoms, including:

Your provider may prescribe antibiotics if you have an infection. If cancer is suspected or the provider cannot make a diagnosis by looking at the lump, a biopsy or an imaging test may be done.


Review Date: 4/16/2019
Reviewed By: Michael Lehrer, MD, Clinical Associate Professor, Department of Dermatology, University of Pennsylvania Medical Center, Philadelphia, PA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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