When to worry about a lump under your skin When to worry about a lump under your skin

When to worry about a lump under your skin

Discovering a new lump on your body can trigger anxiety, and it's natural to think of the worst-case scenario immediately. However, it's important to note that not all lumps are reason for panic; most of them are benign and require no intervention.

"Generally, most lumps are not a cause for significant concern," states the experts. "Nonetheless, there are situations where a lump might require medical attention or urgent care. If you have any apprehensions about a lump or if it persists for over two weeks, it's advisable to consult a healthcare professional."

Why it’s important to check your body regularly

It's crucial to be well-acquainted with your body and regularly perform self-examinations to promptly detect any new changes or unusual lumps.

Develop the routine of examining your armpits and breasts, or testicles, to become familiar with what's typical for your body.

 

What’s the difference between a benign and a cancerous lump?

Benign lumps, typically not a cause for concern, often possess the following characteristics:

  • They are soft.

  • They are situated in the outermost layer of the skin or the fat layer.

  • They shift or move when touched.

Conversely, lumps that warrant a doctor's evaluation typically exhibit the following traits:

  • They are hard and may lack pain.

  • They remain immobile, firmly attached to the skin or underlying tissue.

  • They increase in size.

What are the most common causes of a lump?

Lumps and swellings can manifest in various areas of your body. Some lumps are specific to particular locations, while others can appear in multiple body parts. Common examples include:

  • Lipoma – a benign, fatty lump characterised by a smooth, soft, and pliable texture upon touch.

  • Skin tag – a small, soft, flesh-coloured growth on the skin's surface.

  • Cyst – a lump filled with fluid beneath the skin's surface, which moves when pressure is applied.

  • Skin abscess – a firm, painful lump that may exhibit redness and warmth upon touch. Skin abscesses often contain pus and are indicative of an infection.

What are the most common places to find a lump?

1. Breasts

It's essential to remember that breast lumps are prevalent in both men and women, and most are not caused by breast cancer. You might have a fibroadenoma, a non-cancerous lump in the breast consisting of glandular and fibrous tissue.

Another possibility is a cyst. Breast cysts are a common breast lump that develops as the breast changes with age due to hormonal fluctuations.

When looking out for breast lumps, smooth lumps that can move quickly under the skin when pressed may be fibroadenomas, according to Dr. Saloojee. It may be difficult for individuals with fibrocystic breasts to detect a new breast lump.

Breast cysts may feel soft or hard and can have varying sizes. They are typically oval or round and may develop rapidly anywhere in the breast. They can be uncomfortable or even painful in some cases.

Breast cancer lumps are frequently hard, painless (although some may be painful), irregularly shaped, and distinct from the surrounding breast tissue.

How frequently to perform self-examinations: Establish a monthly routine to regularly assess your breasts, becoming acquainted with their usual appearance and texture.

When to seek medical attention: It is imperative to consult a doctor for evaluation if you detect any breast lump.

2. Neck and armpits

Lumps in the neck or armpit are often due to swollen glands, also known as lymphadenopathy. Mild infections like colds, sore throats, and tonsillitis frequently cause swollen glands. However, they can also result from more severe conditions, including cancer or rheumatoid arthritis.

Another type of neck lump is a thyroid goitre, which is an abnormal swelling of the thyroid gland.

Tender, painful lumps on either side of the neck, under the jaw, or armpit are usually the symptoms of swollen glands. If the glands become hard and painless, it may indicate more severe conditions.

A goitre creates a lump at the front of your neck, which may vary in size and move up and down when you swallow.

It is recommended to check your neck and armpits once a month, preferably when you do a breast check.

If swollen glands persist for more than two weeks, it is advisable to consult a doctor. A doctor can also help you determine if you have a goitre by examining your swollen thyroid gland.

3. Testicles

Lumps and swellings in the testicles can have various causes. They can be harmless, like fluid-filled cysts or swollen veins known as varicoceles. However, they sometimes indicate a severe issue, such as testicular cancer.

Here are the things to watch out for: Your testicles should usually feel firm but not hard, and their surface should be smooth, free from irregular bumps or lumps.

Early signs of testicular cancer may include:

  • The presence of a hard lump in the testicle.

  • Enlargement or swelling of the testicle.

  • The testicle feels firmer than usual.

Regarding how often to check, it's a good practice to examine your testicles every month to become familiar with their regular size and shape.

When to seek medical attention: If you notice any lumps, swellings, or other changes during your self-examination, you must get checked by a doctor.

4. Groin

Common reasons for a lump in the groin region include enlarged lymph nodes, an enlarged saphena varix vein, and sexually transmitted infections such as genital warts.

Hernias can also develop in the groin area. These lumps occur when internal body parts push through muscle or tissue wall weakness.

Pay attention to the fact that A hernia lump can often be manually pushed back in or may disappear when lying down. Actions like coughing or straining can sometimes make the lump reappear. Occasionally, hernias can become painful.

Recommended frequency for self-examinations: It's advisable to check your groin lymph nodes once a month. This can be incorporated into your routine when inspecting other areas of your skin for any new lumps or irregularities.

When to seek medical attention: If you detect a lump in the groin area, it's essential to schedule an appointment with a healthcare professional to determine if it might be a hernia.

5. Hands and wrists

Ganglion cysts are non-cancerous growths that form along the tendons or joints in the wrists or hands. They can develop in individuals with osteoarthritis or previously experienced joint or tendon injuries.

What to be aware of: Ganglion cysts typically have a round or oval shape and are filled with a gel-like fluid. They might resemble a small, solid water balloon but are usually compressible.

Recommended checking frequency: There's no need for routine checks because you'll likely notice their presence when they appear.

 

When to seek medical attention: If you detect an unusual lump on your hand, whether or not it causes pain or affects hand functionality, it's advisable to consult a general practitioner for evaluation.

6. Bottom

A lump in or around the rectal area might be attributed to haemorrhoids (piles). Increased pressure on the veins in this region can lead to bulging and swelling, resulting in small, round lumps. This pressure can be due to stress during bowel movements, constipation, diarrhoea, pregnancy, or heavy lifting.

Additionally, a lump could be caused by a rectal prolapse, which occurs when part of the internal tissue protrudes from the anus.

What to be aware of: Hemorrhoids inside and around the rectal area can cause itching, pain, and the passage of bright red blood after bowel movements.

Recommended checking frequency: There's typically no need for routine self-checks, as you're likely to notice haemorrhoids or a rectal prolapse during restroom visits or showers.

When to seek medical attention: A medical professional should examine any lump in or around the rectal area to rule out more severe conditions.

When should I get a lump checked?

If you have concerns about a lump or if it has persisted for over two weeks, you should consult a healthcare professional promptly for an evaluation. Regular self-examinations are crucial because detecting new lumps early can significantly aid in the early detection of potentially serious conditions.

Always seek medical attention if you have a lump that:

  • It is increasing in size.

  • Causes pain and exhibits redness or warmth.

  • Feels hard and remains fixed.

  • Recurs after prior removal.

A medical practitioner will gather your medical history, examine the lump, and might be able to provide an immediate diagnosis and treatment.

In cases where the cause or diagnosis is uncertain, a doctor may recommend an ultrasound scan to assess the lump or a biopsy to remove a small lump sample for testing.

For more concerning lumps, a doctor may refer you to a specialist for further investigations.

Mobi Doctor offers online consultations for your healthcare needs, providing accessible and expert assistance from the comfort of your location.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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