A lump under the chin is a swollen area, also known as a bump, appears under the chin, either along the jaw line or on the front part of the neck. It may appear as a single bump or more than one lump in a cluster. These lumps under the chin are usually harmless.
A lump under the chin usually appears as a boil or abscess. On touch, it may feel soft or hard. Generally, a lump under the chin does not cause pain, while in some cases, it may be tender and painful to touch. When these lumps do not cause any pain, they can be present for a long time before you notice them.
These lumps are usually harmless, but some need medical attention to cease any further complications. Swollen lymph nodes cause a lump under the chin. A typical infection may trigger this swelling. Other causes of a lump under the chin may include cancer, cysts, abscesses, benign tumors, and other medical issues. However, these causes are much rarer in comparison to infection.
The lump's symptoms, size, and shape will likely differ depending on the cause of a lump under the chin.
What Causes a Lump Under Chin?
Chin lumps can be a result of various medical conditions. Below are some common causes of a lump under the chin.
A lump under the chin can be formed as a result of both bacterial and viral infections. Lumps are generally swollen lymph nodes.
Lymph nodes are part of your immune system's network located throughout your body that helps protect your body from illnesses. Lymph nodes are found as round or bean-shaped organ-like structures and are small in size and flexible. You can only feel these lymph nodes close to the skin's surface, nodes in the armpits, or close to the chin.
It's common for lymph nodes to swell when there is an illness in your body. Sometimes they may feel tender or painful to the touch or causes discomfort when you chew or turn your head in a particular direction.
If swollen lymph nodes cause a lump under the chin, the lump should disappear as the infection clears up. You may need to visit the doctor for infection treatment or the underlying cause of swollen lymph nodes.
The following infections can trigger the swelling of lymph nodes:
- Respiratory infections such as colds and the flu
- Strep throat
- Ear infections
- Mononucleosis (mono)
- Sinus infections
- Syphilis or Lyme disease
- HIV or AIDS
- An infected (abscess) tooth or any mouth infection
- Skin infections, such as cellulitis
- Some other medical conditions may also cause lymph nodes to swell, such as tuberculosis and immune system disorders.
If a swollen lymph node causes the lump under chin, you may also experience other symptoms, such as:
- Chills or night sweats
- Swelling of other lymph nodes, such as in the groin or under the arms
- Infections of the upper respiratory tract such as cough sore throat, runny nose, etc.
A lump under the chin can also be caused by cancer. Though it can appear at any age, it is more likely to affect older adults. There are various ways through which cancer can cause a lump to form under the chin. A lump can form when:
- Organs such as the mouth, throat, thyroid, or salivary gland are being affected by the cancer
- Metastatic cancer from a distant organ has spread to the lymph nodes under the chin
- Cancer is of the lymphatic system itself
- Cancer of skin appears under the chin
- Sarcoma develops under the chin
Some cancers cause swelling of lymph nodes, specifically such as leukemia and Hodgkin's disease.
A lump caused by cancer usually feels hard and is not tender or painful to the touch. Other symptoms of a cancerous lump are the following:
- Unexplained weight loss
- Change in voice or hoarseness
- Difficulty swallowing or breathing
- Lumps elsewhere in the body
- Feeling of a lump in the throat persistently
- Change in the shape and size of the lump
- Persistently weakened immune system
- Recurring infections
- Growths that discharge pus or blood
Suppose a cancerous tumor causes your lump under the chin. In that case, you will be directed to cancer treatment, and your doctor might suggest chemotherapy, radiation, or surgery to remove the lump.
Benign Tumours and Cysts
Other growths such as cysts and benign tumours are non-cancerous. Cysts are fluid-filled sac-like structures, while benign tumours form when your cells start to divide at an abnormal rate. Benign tumours are unable to invade the neighbouring tissues or spread to other parts of the body. Cysts and benign tumours which may cause a lump to develop under your chin include:
- Epidermoid (sebaceous) cysts
Lipomas, fibromas, and sebaceous cysts can be either soft or firm and usually are not painful. They may cause discomfort when they grow in size and put pressure on nearby structures.
Other Possible Causes of a Lump Under Chin
Lump under the chin may be formed due to a range of factors, including the following:
- Salivary duct stones
- Food allergies
- Any injury
- A bug bite or insect stings
- Broken bones
- A fractured jaw
- Certain medications
- Damage to sebaceous glands in the chin
When Should You Visit a Doctor?
A lump under the chin should resolve on its own. Treating the underlying cause will relieve the swelling and lump. You should seek medical attention if:
- You have an unexplained lump under chin.
- The lump under your chin is growing in its size.
- Your lump has been present for two or more weeks.
- The lump under the chin feels hard or doesn't move, even when pushed on.
- The lump under the chin is accompanied by unexplained symptoms like weight loss, fever, or night sweats
You should consult your doctor on an emergency basis if you have a lump under the chin and are feeling difficulty breathing and swallowing.