Lumps and Bumps


What is it? “Lumps and bumps” is a collective term used to describe a wide range of medical conditions involving the skin and/or the subcutaneous tissues.
Why it happens: Lumps and bumps can be caused by many conditions with variable degree of severity. The list is extensive and includes, among others, trauma, skin cysts, lipomas, moles, skin infections, swollen lymph nodes, cancerous growths and more. Lumps and bumps are collectively grouped together because they all affect the skin and all share similar approach considerations and management options.
Frequency: It is rather common for any individual to develop a skin lesion in their lifetime. Most of these are not causing any symptoms and can be present for years.


Skin lumps can cause a wide variety of symptoms most of which are non-specific and difficult to interpret by the non-specialist. The signs and symptoms that define a lump and would give an idea about the nature of the lump are the texture, whether they are firmly attached to the surroundings or mobile, the colour and any potential colour changes, signs of infection either locally (red colour, pain, purulent discharge, swelling) or systemic (fever, sweats, feeling generally unwell), the borders and the contour of the lump and whether it is growing or not.


In most cases, a careful medical history and a physical examination will diagnose the lump and will define further steps and management. For lumps that are clearly benign as is the case in the majority of patients, watchful waiting or medical/surgical treatment would normally suffice. For lumps that have concerning features, a biopsy might be required. A minority of lumps looks suspicious for malignancy from initial presentation and for those lumps imaging might be the best course of action after initial assessment. This can happen with an ultrasound, an MRI or a CT scan.


Treatment of lumps and bumps will depend on the specific cause.
Home care – some lumps and bumps would respond well to home remedies. Most people will try this first when they notice a lump. Discomfort or pain from a lump as well as lumps that are caused acutely by trauma would normally respond well to self-medication, ice packs and regular pain killers that are available over the counter.
Prescription medication – Lumps caused by infection are likely to require a course of antibiotics. Some may also require topical skin ointments or creams. You should always ask your GP if a newly formed lump is symptomatic or if a pre-existing lump has changed shape, size or colour.
Surgery – lumps that cause symptoms and those with concerning features need to be surgically removed. Depending on the size and the anatomic site of the lump this can be done by local anaesthesia, sedation or general anaesthesia.

Follow Up

If you had surgery for a lump
  • Surgery is usually completed as a day case procedure under local anaesthesia. You should be able to go home the day of your surgery and resume normal activities from next day.
  • It is important to follow all of your doctor’s instructions, take any medication prescribed regularly and keep your follow-up appointments.
  • Wound care is important for optimal cosmetic effect of the surgical wound.
  • Any lump excised will be sent to the lab for a histological evaluation. You will receive the result of this test in your follow up appointment.
If you have a lump that you are managing with a watchful waiting approach
  • If asymptomatic, it may not need any treatment provided it has been assessed at least once by a healthcare professional.
Seek immediate medical attention if
  • If there are any changes in size, colour, contour, edges or development of novel symptoms you should see your doctor.
  • A lump has developed acutely and is not resolving after a few days of self-medication.