Finding Hard Lumps Under Your Skin: What You Need to Know

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Many different things can cause hard lumps under your skin. More often than not, hard lumps are not life-threatening and are simply the buildup of material in the body. However, it is a good idea to have a doctor look at any new lumps in case they are serious. Treatments will also vary with the cause of the lump, but there may be some ways to help with healing at home.

Possible Causes of Hard Lumps Under Your Skin

Many things can cause lumps, and it is important to note that not all of them are dangerous. Here are some of the most likely causes of a lump:


Lipomas are fatty lumps that grow beneath the skin and muscle. They generally are not painful and can be moved around. They are not harmful to your health, and people can have more than one lump in an area.


Sacs under the skin containing fluid, pus, or air are called cysts. They are usually round and can be moved around under the skin. Cysts with rough edges may need to be looked at by a medical professional.

Corn or callus

Skin that experiences a lot of pressure or friction may form corns or calluses. They are both found in areas like the feet and hands. Corns are smaller and hard in the center, and they are more likely to be painful than calluses. Calluses are hard and rough and generally appear on the bottom of the feet.

Swollen lymph nodes

Lymph nodes can swell in the neck, armpits, or groin. They are usually an indication that something is wrong in the body, whether it be an infection or a serious disease. Allergic reactions may also cause lymph nodes to swell.

Enlarged salivary glands

 If there is a lump in your neck, it may be the salivary glands reacting to something. It could be something like mumps, an infection, or there could be stones in the glands. 


Collections of pus under the skin, called abscesses, are usually the result of bacterial infections. Boils and wounds can also cause them, they can be tender and warm, and they can be raised around the infected area. An abscess can occur anywhere on the body and may leak pus.

Malignant tumor

A malignant tumor can spread to other parts of the body. While this is not the common cause of a lump, the chances of getting cancer increase with age.

Home Care

A warm compress can be made to help with the swelling of an abscess. However, you should not try and drain the lump yourself by squeezing or picking at it since an infection could set in. 

For corns and calluses, it may be beneficial to look at what may be causing the problem. If your shoes are causing you pain, then padding can be added to the bottom, and different socks may prevent rubbing on painful areas. Gloves can help prevent calluses and corns from forming on the hands, and bandages may help protect corns from further friction.

Seeing A Doctor

A doctor should look at any kind of lump. While it may not be painful, a lump may still be potentially dangerous. Warm compresses and bandages may be helpful initially, but they may not completely heal a lump. 

Different treatments are more beneficial than others for certain conditions. Your doctor may do more testing beyond a physical exam before discussing treatment options with you. Here are some of the most common treatments for lumps.

Tissue sample

Sometimes a tissue sample may be necessary for a proper diagnosis. Occasionally, the doctor removes the lump entirely instead of only a piece. This can help your doctor decide what the next step in treatment should be, if necessary.


The doctor can drain an abscess to help heal it faster. Your doctor may also prescribe antibiotics afterward to stop an infection from setting in.


Bacteria can cause some conditions. Your doctor may prescribe antibiotics to heal the lump alone or along with another process. Medication should be taken as prescribed.


Fatty tissue is removed with liposuction. It may be helpful in the removal of lumps caused by lipoma.

Cancer treatment

If a lump is cancerous, there are a few ways your doctor may treat it. You may get surgery to remove the lump completely or partially. Medication, radiation treatment, and chemotherapy are also common cancer treatments. In some cases, a combination of a few of these may be best.

Hard lumps are not generally detrimental to your health. They can occur for different reasons, and it is a good idea to let your doctor know if you have one.

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