skin lumps and bump


Skin lumps and bumps refer to any growth, swelling, or lesion on or under the skin that is not considered a normal part of the skin. They can range from small, harmless bumps like pimples or moles to larger, more serious growths like tumours or cysts.

There are many different types of skin lumps and bumps, and they can have a variety of causes. Some of the most common causes of skin lumps and bumps include:

  • Acne: This is a common skin condition that can cause small, raised bumps or pimples on the skin.
  • Moles: These are benign growths on the skin that are usually brown or black in colour.
  • Warts: These are caused by a virus and can appear as small, raised bumps on the skin.
  • Cysts are sacs filled with fluid or other material that can appear under the skin.
  • Lipomas: are benign growths of fat cells that can appear as soft, movable lumps under the skin.
  • Skin cancer: This is a less common cause of skin lumps and bumps, but it can be serious. Skin cancer can appear as a mole or other growth that changes in size, shape, or colour over time.

If you notice any new or unusual lumps or bumps on your skin, it’s important to have them checked out by a dermatologist. They can examine the growth and determine whether it’s benign or requires further testing or treatment. In the case of skin cancer, early detection and treatment is crucial and can be lifesaving, so it’s essential to be vigilant about any changes to your skin.

Frequently Asked Questions

“Skin lumps” can be divided into three different categories; 

  1. Benign: Noncancerous harmless and may require no treatment. Common skin lumps; 
  • Skin tags 
  • Cysts 
  • Lipoma 
  • Wart 
  • Dermatofibroma 
  • Enlarged lymph node, if caused by a viral infection, like the common cold.
  1. Inflammatory or infectious: such as viral warts, inflammatory acne. These require treatment but is not life-threatening. 
  1. Malignant: These are cancerous lesions such as lymphoma (cancer of the lymph system), or skin cancer, including basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, or melanoma. These conditions would require treatment in the short-term (rather than a wait-and-see approach). 

Many skin lumps won’t go away on their own and require treatment. Often, however, the lesion is not dangerous and can be left alone if not bothersome. Here’s a look at the treatment for some of the more common causes of skin lumps: 

  • Skin Tag: Skin tags are common benign skin lumps. As there are genetic causes, they can’t always be prevented. However, controlling conditions that make them more likely (like diabetes) will discourage their formation. Generally, skin tags do not need to be removed. However, if required, it may be taken off using one of three methods: snip excision, cautery, or cryosurgery (using a cold liquid, like liquid nitrogen, to freeze the skin tag). 
  • Cyst: To get rid of a cyst, you will need it removed surgically. Squeezing may press out keratin, but that does not eliminate the problem and may worsen it by causing more inflammation. Although you won’t be able to prevent them from forming, do not try to “pop” it yourself to prevent infection and scarring. For surgical removal of the cyst, the wall, or lining, of the cyst needs to come out, too. However, in the case of an infected lesion, this will not be done until the inflammation has subsided. Oral antibiotics may be prescribed to reduce inflammation. Cysts can also be drained as a temporary solution; doctors can also give a cyst a steroid injection to help calm it. 
  • Wart: It may take quite a while (potentially years) for your wart to eventually disappear without treatment. If at-home remedies using an over-the-counter wart removal kit are not successful. You may need to get a wart removed & frozen off with liquid nitrogen by a healthcare professional. 
  • Dermatofibroma: These are benign, and removal is usually not required. However, if desired, surgical removal is an option. However, a rare skin cancer called dermatofibrosarcoma can develop in a similar pattern in connective tissue in the dermal layer of the skin and grows slowly. Treating this type of skin cancer requires surgery, though radiation or targeted therapy drugs may also be used. 
  • Lipoma: Lipoma is a benign tumour of fat that grows in the skin’s fat layer and can pop up anywhere on the body. It usually’s soft and mushy (it’s made of fat), typically not painful, and the edges won’t be well defined. These can run in families and may have a genetic cause. That’s one reason why you won’t be able to take steps to prevent all skin lumps actively. 
  • Enlarged Lymph Node: Lymph nodes are part of your body’s immune system and are located in certain body parts, such as your armpit, groin, or below your chin and neck. These can get swollen if you get sick as immune cells congregate there and fight off an infection. Lymph nodes in your groin may also enlarge and become inflamed due to extreme exercise (such as participating in a long endurance event, like a marathon). You don’t need to treat an enlarged lymph node itself, but you’d treat the underlying cause. If lymph nodes are enlarged because you are sick with a viral infection like a cold or have an infection elsewhere, they should go back to their normal size once you recover. They should still feel smooth and mobile. If you find an enlarged lymph node that’s 1 centimetre (cm) or less, it’s soft, and you can move it around, that’s less concerning. However, a lymphoma, or cancer in the lymph node, may become firm or hard and fixed. There may also be other cancer symptoms, like decreased appetite, weight loss, fever, and chills. If you are diagnosed with lymphoma, you will be treated appropriately for cancer, including chemotherapy, radiation, targeted drugs, and bone marrow transplant. 
  • Possibly cancerous: If you find a new, changing, itching, bleeding spot, lesion, or bump on the skin, these findings could point to skin cancer. If you notice any of these warning signs, it’s important to see a dermatologist or other healthcare provider as soon as possible. They can perform a thorough examination of your skin and determine whether any growths are cancerous or require further testing or treatment. Early detection and treatment of skin cancer can be lifesaving, so it’s important to be vigilant about any changes to your skin and seek medical attention promptly if you have any concerns.

If you have a newly-discovered lump, an existing lump that has changed (become harder or more painful than before), is growing, hard to the touch, or causes pain when touched in its area of location – speak with your doctor right away.

Skin cancer can present itself in various forms, but there are a few key warning signs that you can look out for when checking your skin:

  • A new growth: If you notice a new growth on your skin, especially one that grows quickly or doesn’t heal, it could be a sign of skin cancer.
  • Changes in an existing mole or spot: If you have a mole or spot on your skin that changes in size, shape, colour, or texture, it may be a sign of skin cancer.
  • Irregular borders: Skin cancer often has irregular borders that are not well-defined or have notched edges.
  • Asymmetry: If one half of a mole or spot on your skin looks different from the other half, it could be a sign of skin cancer.
  • Varied colours: Skin cancer can appear in a range of colours, including brown, black, red, pink, or white.
  • Size: Skin cancer can be small or large, but anything larger than 6mm in diameter should be checked by a dermatologist.
  • Itching or bleeding: Skin cancer may cause itching, bleeding, or crusting on the surface of the skin.
  • Presence of other symptoms: If you experience other symptoms, such as fever, fatigue, or weight loss in combination with the lump, it may be a sign of a more serious condition.
  • Family history: If you have a family history of cancer or other conditions that may cause skin lumps, you may be at increased risk and should be vigilant about any new growth.

It is very important to be vigilant about any changes to your skin and seek medical attention promptly if you have any concerns.

Dr Miller is here to help

dr natalie miller

Dr. Natalia Miller

During the consultation, Dr Miller will ask about your medical history, including any previous skin conditions, family history of skin cancer, and medications you are currently taking.

She will then perform a thorough physical examination to assess your skin lump. She will likely recommend a skin biopsy for further analysis and confirmation if anything worrisome is found. This minimally invasive procedure is conducted in the doctor’s office while you are numbed locally with local anaesthesia. It involves removing a small sample of the tissue for analysis in a laboratory which will help differentiate between benign conditions or cancerous cells of the skin.

Depending on the results of the exam and any tests, Dr Miller will develop a treatment plan that may include observation, medication, or surgery to remove the lump or bump.

After the treatment, depending on the nature of the lump or bump and your treatment plan, Dr Miller may schedule follow-up appointments to monitor your condition and adjust your treatment plan as needed.