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Lumps & Bumps

Lumps and Bumps page header

What Are Lumps and Bumps?

Lumps and bumps can appear anywhere on the body and can vary in size, shape, and texture. While most are harmless such as cysts, or fatty growths (lipomas), some lumps may indicate more serious conditions, such as skin cancer. As such, it is crucial to seek medical attention if you notice any new or unusual lumps, especially if they are painful, growing rapidly, or accompanied by other symptoms like changes in skin colour or texture, fever, or unexplained weight loss.

Common Types of Lumps and Bumps

1. Lipomas

Lipomas are benign, slow-growing tumours consisting of adipose tissue, or fat cells, located just beneath the skin. They are commonly found on the shoulders, neck, back, abdomen, or arms.

  • Signs and Symptoms: Lipomas are soft, move easily when touched, and are mostly painless. They are usually smaller than 2cm but, in rare cases, can grow much larger.
  • Causes: The exact cause is unknown but rarely may involve genetic factors.
  • Risk Factors: A family history of lipomas.
  • Treatment: Most lipomas do not require treatment unless they are causing discomfort or are increasing in size. Surgical excision is the definitive method to remove lipomas.

2. Epidermal Cysts

Epidermal cysts are benign bumps located just beneath the skin, filled with keratin (a protein found in skin, hair, and nails). These cysts can appear anywhere but are most commonly found on the face, scalp, trunk, groin, and upper back.

  • Signs and Symptoms: Epidermal cysts typically appear as round, firm, and slow-growing bumps with a central opening. While usually painless, they can become tender, red, swollen, and filled with pus if inflamed or infected.
  • Causes: Epidermal cysts form when skin cells that are normally shed block pores in the skin. This causes progressive accumulation of the keratinous material which results in a lump that progressively increases in size.
  • Risk Factors: Having a history of acne, previous skin injuries, or certain genetic conditions are associated with a higher risk of developing epidermoid cysts.
  • Treatment: Small, painless cysts generally require no treatment. Intervention becomes necessary if the cyst becomes inflamed, infected, or bothersome. Treatment options include draining the cyst, surgical removal, or steroid injections to reduce inflammation.
Do you have lumps or bumps on your skin that are bothering you?
Make an appointment with us at 6736 2302 for safe and reliable treatment.

3. Skin Abscess

Skin abscesses are localised collections of pus within or just below the surface of the skin. They tend to appear on the back, chest, buttocks, and face or areas where hair is present.

  • Signs and Symptoms: A skin abscess is a painful, swollen, and red area of skin that feels warm and tender. Pus in the affected area may appear white or yellow.
  • Causes: Bacterial infection is the most common cause of a skin abscess. When bacteria enter the body through a hair follicle or break in the skin, the immune system responds by sending white blood cells, causing nearby tissue to die and form a pus-filled abscess.
  • Risk Factors: Smoking, diabetes, weakened immune system, obesity, poor hygiene, close contact with an infected person, and skin conditions such as acne or eczema.
  • Treatment: Skin abscesses require medical attention to avoid complications like sepsis. A doctor may drain the abscess through a small incision to remove pus, relieve pain, and treat the infection. In less severe cases, antibiotics may be prescribed instead.

4. Dermatofibroma

Dermatofibromas are benign skin growths characterised by a small, firm bump made up of scar-like tissue.

  • Signs and Symptoms: Brownish colouration, sometimes pink, red, or purple, with a firm texture resembling a small pebble under the skin. While typically painless, they may also itch or be tender to the touch.
  • Causes: While the exact cause of dermatofibroma is unknown, they often develop in response to an injury or irritation, such as an insect bite or a splinter.
  • Risk Factors: A history of skin trauma, certain skin types, and gender (women are more likely to develop dermatofibroma). They are more common in adults and are rarely seen in children.
  • Treatment: Dermatofibromas have a tendency to grow so surgical excision is usually recommended.

5. Haemangioma

Haemangiomas, also known as strawberry marks, are abnormal growths of blood vessels in the skin or internal organs. Typically seen in infants, they often emerge within the first few weeks of life, predominantly on the head and neck region.

  • Signs and Symptoms: A red to reddish-purple, raised growth on the skin, or a large, raised, bluish lump with visible blood vessels.
  • Causes: While the exact cause of haemangiomas is unknown, they might be related to developmental errors in the vascular system.
  • Risk Factors: Gender (females are more likely to develop haemangioma), being born prematurely, having a low birth weight, and having a family history of haemangiomas.
  • Treatment: Most cases of haemangioma do not require treatment unless they are of cosmetic concern. Options include medication (such as beta-blockers or corticosteroids), laser therapy for redness and size reduction, or surgery for severe cases.
Unsure about a new lump or bump? Play it safe. Make an appointment at 6736 2302 for a thorough diagnosis.

6. Swollen Lymph Glands

Lymph glands or nodes are small, bean-shaped structures that are present throughout the body and vital for the body's immune system. They enlarge in response to an infection, illness, or cancer—a sign that the immune system is fighting off the infection.

  • Causes: Common causes include bacterial or viral infections, such as colds, flu, or strep throat. Other causes can include immune system disorders, such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis, or certain types of cancer, such as lymphoma.
  • Signs and Symptoms: They are typically painless and may feel soft or rubbery, often found near the site of infection or inflammation. Other symptoms, such as fever, sore throat, and fatigue, can vary depending on the cause.
  • Risk Factors: Having a weakened immune system or a malignant lymph problem like lymphoma. Other factors include being 40 years or older, excessive alcohol consumption, smoking, and unsafe sex practices, which can increase the risk of infections and other health conditions.
  • Treatment: They often resolve on their own as the body fights infection. However, if swelling persists further evaluation and treatment may be required, including medication or surgery to remove the swollen node.

7. Keloids

Keloids are thick raised scars that occur when the skin overreacts to an injury and grows beyond the boundaries of the original wound, often smooth, shiny, and can vary in colour from pink to red or dark brown. Keloids can develop anywhere on the body but are more likely on the chest, shoulders, earlobes, and cheeks.

  • Signs and Symptoms: keloids can be painful, itchy, and tender. They vary in size and shape and often continue to grow over time.
  • Causes: The exact cause of keloids is not well understood, but most of them develop due to an overproduction of collagen during the healing process. While skin trauma is a common trigger, these scars can also form without any apparent cause.
  • Risk Factors: While keloids are more likely to develop in individuals younger than 30, they are uncommon in children. Other factors include having a family history of keloids, having darker skin tones, repeated skin trauma, and certain genetic factors.
  • Treatment: Keloid treatment aims to reduce pain and itching, and flatten the lesion. Options include steroid injections, cryotherapy, surgical removal, laser therapy, pressure dressings, and silicone gel or sheets.


When should I be concerned about a lump or bump?

You should be concerned about a lump or bump if it:

  • Increasing in size
  • Is hard or immovable
  • Causes pain or discomfort
  • Is accompanied by other symptoms, such as fever, unexplained weight loss, or changes in skin colour or texture.
Are all lumps and bumps cancerous?

No, not all lumps and bumps are cancerous. Most lumps and bumps are benign (non-cancerous).

Can I prevent the development of lumps and bumps?

It is not always possible to prevent the development of lumps and bumps, but there are some steps you can take to reduce your risk:

  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle: eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly, and avoiding tobacco and excessive alcohol consumption
  • Practise good hygiene: keeping your skin clean and dry
  • Protect your skin: minimise sun exposure and use sunscreen
  • Avoid skin trauma: take precautions to prevent injuries to the skin
Do all lumps and bumps have to be treated surgically?

No, the treatment for a lump or bump depends on the underlying cause and whether it is causing any symptoms or complications. Your doctor will determine if surgery is necessary based on the specific characteristics of the lump.

Can lumps and bumps come back after being removed?

Yes, lumps and bumps can sometimes return after removal, depending on the type of growth and treatment effectiveness. Be sure to speak with the doctor regarding your individual case.

The Vascular & General Surgery Centre provides in-depth evaluations of lumps and bumps before deciding on how best to treat and remove them. For more information, make an appointment with Dr Sujit Singh Gill at 6736 2302 today.