6 possible causes of a lump on the head

The causes of a lump on the head are very varied and range from inflammatory conditions to the accumulation of substances under the scalp. Let’s see its most frequent etiologies.

Last update: December 22, 2021

Lumps on the head are small masses of varying consistency and size that usually appear progressively. Similarly, palpating an increase in volume in this area is not always indicative of a malignant process. Here are 6 possible causes of a lump on the head.

The human head is covered by several layers in which are various types of glands, blood vessels and nerve pathways. Similarly, it is protected by the cranial bones that completely surround the encephalic structures.

The presence of a lump on the head is not usually accompanied by other symptoms, so in some people they go unnoticed for a long time. Nevertheless, it is possible to have discomfort when touching the scalp. Early assessment by a professional is vital given the persistence of the injury.

Common causes of a lump on the head

People are often alarmed when they feel a lump on the skin of the skull. Nevertheless, these injuries are usually not dangerous and a large number of them disappear quickly with treatment.

1. Head trauma

Direct blows to the head often result in a lump of varying size. In general, the increase in volume on the scalp is inflammatory in nature. In this sense, the affected person may present pain at the site of the trauma, headache and redness in the area.

Similarly, high intensity blows to the head are associated with larger swellings and bleeding. Studies affirm that in mild head trauma it is common to show a subgaleal hematoma without a skull fracture. This is nothing more than a collection of blood between the scalp and the bones of the head.

Mild to moderate bumps usually go away on their own after a couple of days. However, it is advisable to use cold compresses and pain relievers to relieve symptoms.

In the case of severe trauma with loss of consciousness, medical attention should be sought as soon as possible.

2. Seborrheic dermatitis

Seborrheic dermatitis is a condition characterized by a excessive production of sebum by the glands of the skin. This is one of the most common causes of a lump on the head and is often accompanied by whitish scabs and dandruff. Also, some people may be itchy and red.

Research indicates that the most affected site is the scalp, due to the large number of sebaceous glands. However, it can also affect the eyebrows, nose, chest, and eyelids. The area around the lump is usually smooth and tender.

The diagnosis of seborrheic dermatitis is made by a doctor who specializes in dermatology.. Treatment usually includes the use of keratolytic and antifungal-based shampoos, as well as topical corticosteroids.

Not only the scalp is susceptible to seborrheic dermatitis. It can also be located on the eyebrows.

3. Lipomas and sebaceous cysts

A lipoma is a small benign fatty tumor that forms between the skin and the underlying muscle tissue. It is common on the back of the head, limbs, and chest. This type of injury can be painless or accompanied by discomfort, indicating the need for surgical removal.

On the other hand, sebaceous cysts appear as a lump on the head that contains fatty fluid, the product of the obstruction of a follicular duct due to various causes. These can be uncomfortable when brushing your hair and the presence of pain often indicates a cyst infection.

4. Folliculitis

Folliculitis is the inflammation of the hair follicles found on the skin. In general, this condition is rare in the scalp and is usually associated with infection of the follicle by bacteria or fungi. It can present with purulent discharge.

Similarly, the affected person may have itching and tenderness in the area. In most cases, these lumps disappear quickly when the treatment plan is established. Treatment of folliculitis includes antifungals and antibiotics.

5. Allergic reaction

Allergic skin reactions usually present in the form of hives. This is characterized by appearance of red spots, bumps, hives, and severe itching. In this sense, allergy to hair products is one of the frequent causes of a lump on the head.

Treatment is aimed at reducing the excessive reaction of the immune system and alleviating symptoms. It includes the use of antiallergic drugs, such as loratadine, or corticosteroids.

6. Skin cancer

Skin cancer is one of the causes of having a lump on the head. Basal cell carcinoma is the most common form of tumor lesions on the skin surface. This type of neoplasm appears as a non-painful, pearly bump, accompanied by dark spots with raised edges.

In this sense, it is advisable to seek medical attention if there is a lump on the scalp with spots around it. The diagnosis of basal cell carcinoma is usually made by biopsy. Treatment is usually surgical.

Lumps on the scalp are usually palpable, but sometimes there are minor changes that are only detected with a careful examination.

When to seek medical attention for a lump on the head?

The causes of a lump on the head can be very varied and in most cases they are of benign etiology. However, it is advisable to see a specialist doctor if there are changes in the injury. Such is the case of enlargement, changes in coloration, the appearance of new lesions, purulent discharge or bleeding.

Health professionals are the only ones trained to identify the cause of the lump and indicate the best behavior to follow. Prompt treatment is the key to ensuring a good long-term prognosis.

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