Home > Health & Wellness > Health Library > Swollen Glands, Hernias, and Other Lumps Under the Skin
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:
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.
A lump caused by cancer is
usually hard, irregularly shaped, and firmly fixed under the skin or deep in
tissue. Although they usually do not cause pain, some types of cancerous lumps
are painful. Most lumps are not caused by cancer.
Swelling may also be caused by:
Check your symptoms to decide if and when
you should see a doctor.
Certain health conditions and medicines weaken the immune system's ability to fight off infection and
illness. Some examples in adults are:
Symptoms of infection may
Hyperthyroidism occurs when your body has too much thyroid
Symptoms of hyperthyroidism may
Based on your answers, the problem may not improve without medical
A soft lump in one of these areas (belly button, groin, past
surgical site) may be a hernia. A hernia can occur when
there is a weakening in the muscle wall and part of an internal organ (often
part of the bowel) pushes through.
With a hernia, the lump may go
away when you press on it or lie down, and it may get worse when you cough. It
may or may not be painful.
You have answered all the questions. Based on your answers, you may be
able to take care of this problem at home.
Pain in adults and older children
Based on your answers, you need
Call911or other emergency services now.
Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland does not make
enough thyroid hormone.
Symptoms of hypothyroidism may include:
Many things can affect how your body responds to a symptom and what kind
of care you may need. These include:
Symptoms of difficulty breathing can range from mild to severe. For example:
Based on your answers, you may need care soon. The
problem probably will not get better without medical care.
Based on your answers, you may need care right away. The problem is likely to get worse without medical care.
The following home treatment
measures may help you treat a painful lump or swollen gland.
Call your doctor if any of the following occur during home
Wash your hands frequently during cold
and cough season. This may help prevent some upper respiratory infections that
cause glands to swell.
To prepare for your appointment, see the topic Making the Most of Your Appointment.
You can help your
doctor diagnose and treat your condition by being prepared to
answer the following questions:
Current as of:
June 4, 2014
William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine & H. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.
To learn more, visit Healthwise.org
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