Most swollen glands or lumps under the skin
are not cause for concern. The glands (lymph nodes) on
either side of the neck, under the jaw, or behind the ears commonly swell when
you have a cold or sore throat.
More serious infections may cause
the glands to enlarge and become very firm and tender. Glands can also swell
and become tender after an injury, such as a cut or bite, or when a tumor or
infection occurs in the mouth, head, or neck.
Swollen glands and other
lumps under the skin can be caused by many different things, including illness,
infection, or another cause.
Swollen glands commonly develop when the
body fights infections from colds, insect bites, or small cuts. More serious
infections may cause the glands to enlarge and become firm, hard, or tender.
Examples of such infections include:
Types of noncancerous
(benign) growths, which are usually harmless, include:
lipoma, a smooth, rubbery, dome-shaped lump that is
easily movable under the skin.
cyst, a sac of fluid and debris that sometimes hurts.
- Cystic lesions
from acne are large pimples that occur deep under the
- Branchial cleft cysts are found in the neck and do not
usually cause problems unless they become infected. These cysts are most common
epidermal cyst (also called a sebaceous cyst) often
appears on the scalp, ears, face, or back.
ganglion is a soft, rubbery lump (a type of cyst) on
the front or back of the wrist.
- Tonsillitis, which may also cause swelling in the
salivary gland problem, such as inflammation, a
salivary stone, an infection, or a tumor.
- An inflammation of fatty
tissue under the skin (erythema nodosum) or overgrown scar tissue (keloid).
aneurysms are bulging sections in a muscle or blood
vessel. A nodule is usually a growth on a gland. A hernia, aneurysm, or nodule may be felt under the skin but may not be visible. These types of lumps may need more medical evaluation.
inguinal hernia is a soft lump in the
groin or near the navel. It may be more visible when you cough. Hernias that disappear when you press on them may not need any treatment. Hernias that don't disappear when you press on them may be more serious and need medical treatment.
- A bulging section in the wall
of a blood vessel (aneurysm) may feel like a pulsating lump in the abdomen, in
the groin, or behind the knee. It can cause serious problems if it involves the
blood vessels in the brain or the abdomen. Aneurysms may be a medical emergency
and may require immediate evaluation.
thyroid nodule is an abnormal growth on the
thyroid gland. An enlarged thyroid gland (goiter) is in the neck just below the Adam's apple.