Bumps on Skin

Amina Ahmad   by Amina Ahmad, MS, Biotechnology    Last updated on February 18, 2019,

bump on skin

What are raised lumps or bumps on skin?

Raised skin bumps are very common and are often harmless. Any localized small swollen area on, or under the skin can be categorized as a lump or a bump. Raised bumps on skin occur due to any infection and may or may not be painful. Bumps on skin can often cause itchiness and skin rashes.

Skin bumps or lumps vary in size and are generally firm or soft. In some cases, it is observed that the upper layer of the skin is reddened or may lead to the formation of ulcers. Red bumps on the skin may or may not be tender depending upon the cause of the lesions. Bumps under the skin also may give rise to skin rashes and blisters. There can be multiple reasons for these skin bumps, such as ingrown hair, infections in cuts, hereditary factor in some cases, friction, the body's response to trauma or injury, etc.

Skin bumps appear in variant shapes and sizes depending on the cause. The color of the skin may be different and the infected area can be itchy, large or small, or sometimes it can also be hard or ulcerated.

Identifying bumps or lumps under the skin

  • Some hard, movable, pea-size nodules can appear all over the body but are more common in areas such as neck, groin, armpits, and behind the collarbone. These lumps under the skin contain some toxins and dead blood cells.
  • Hard bumps on skin are known as cysts. Cysts are common structures which form when dead skin cells get trapped under clogged pores. They may appear as fatty tumors but are non-cancerous.
  • Some bumps may be felt in the breasts called breast lumps. They are movable. They sometimes feel like some soft cushion (rubbery tissue) and sometimes are as hard as marble and may cause breast cancer.
  • They may appear like a pimple or acne all over the body particularly on the face or on the chest.
  • Itchy bumps on skin cause redness or burning sensation.
  • Some outgrowths or loose skin pieces are observed which are neither painful nor harmful.

Causes of bumps on skin

There are multiple conditions such as infections, allergic reactions, skin disorders, and skin cancer which may lead to the formation of skin lumps. Some of those conditions are listed below:

Acne

Acne, also known as acne vulgaris, are small bumps on face, neck, shoulders, chest, and upper back. They appear as skin breakouts and comprise of blackheads, whiteheads, pimples, or deep, painful cysts and nodules. Acne are referred as small inflammations on the skin which is characterized as itchy red bumps on skin.

Cold sore

Cold sores occur as a group of red, painful, fluid-filled blisters which generally appear on the mouth and lips. They spread on touching or pricking the blister as the fluid which oozes out has some viral infections. Sometimes burning sensation and itchiness is felt in these sores and may also cause low fever, body aches, and swollen lymph nodes.

Lipoma

Lipomas are small soft fatty lumps under skin. They are movable and painless. Lipomas are pale or colorless and often are located in the neck, back, or shoulders. If it grows into nerves, it can be painful.

Actinic keratosis

Excessive exposure to ultraviolet radiations may lead to skin cancer. The sun is the main source of ultraviolet rays. Actinic keratosis is more observed on the face, back of the hands, neck, scalp, ears, shoulders, etc. This skin disorder may cause crusty, scaly rough growths on the surface of the skin.

Boils and bullae

Fluid filled bumpy skin is referred to as “boils”. Boils are red bumps on skin and can sometimes be painful. Infected hair follicles lead to the formation of boils which release some harmful fluids that may cause allergies. Bullae are similar to boils or fluid-filled bumps which occur as a result of several skin problems like contact dermatitis and chickenpox.

Blackheads and Whiteheads


Blackheads or whiteheads occur due to oil-clogged pores. Dirt in the air settles on the skin and leads to the formation of blackheads. Whiteheads is a collection dead skin cells and appear as white bumps on skin. Removing them by applying pressure opens the nearby pores and allows them to spread.

Nodules

Nodules are small to medium sized growths filled with tissue, fluid, or both and may appear like a smooth elevation or bump under the skin. Nodules are wider than pimples in size, firm and harmless. In some cases, nodules are located very deep inside the body and cannot be detected.

Skin tags or Acrochordon

Sometimes, unwanted skin growth appears itself on neck, armpits, eyelids, breasts, groin (genitals), stomach, etc. They can hang on the skin, are about an inch-long and similar in color of the skin or may be slightly darker. They are harmless and cause no pain but affect the physical appearance of the person.

Cysts

Cysts are slow-growing hard bumps under the skin and are often painless. Until they grow large in a sensitive area and are infected, they do not cause any problem. In extreme conditions, they form tumors and lead to cancer.

Sarcomas

Cancer or sarcoma of skin due to lesion formation is rare. During this condition, scaly, red patches, abnormal growths, cancerous moles and raised sores develop on the skin. These painful lumps are embedded deep in the body and cause serious complications in the body.

Some other conditions that form bumpy skin are warts, Corns and calluses, cell carcinoma, melanoma, cherry angioma, keratosis pilaris, pox, contact dermatitis, impetigo, etc.

Is treatment needed for bumps on skin?

Bumps on skin are often harmless and therefore do not require any specific treatment. But in some cases, due to certain conditions (for example: psoriasis, papules, keratosis pilaris, shingles, etc.), skin bumps may cause redness, itching, blisters, burning sensation, pus, infection, may lead to fever, pain and discomfort, etc. If these symptoms do not calm, there is a need for treatment.

The treatment method depends on the cause or root of the problem. Depending on the cause, the treatment for skin bumps may include oral corticosteroid medications, topical medications, laser therapy, or surgery in extreme cases.

For those lumps that do not cause any harm but may ruin the appearance (such as skin tags, cysts, lipomas, etc), freezing therapy or cosmetic surgery is recommended. Small itchy red bumps on skin may be treated with topical ointments and creams. Antibiotics are needed to reduce bacterial infections. If the bumps are suspected to be cancerous lesions, they are immediately tested and removed.

In majority of the cases, these bumps are temporary conditions and can be cured easily. Self care is the best way for managing mild skin bumps. Use of aloe vera gel, calamine lotion, colloidal oatmeal, apple cider vinegar and white vinegar, etc can reduce the irritation, itchiness or redness, rashes, etc. Home remedies often curb down infections and therefore are very commonly recommended for lumps and bumps.