This article looks at the most common reasons for developing a bump on the head and discusses how head lumps can be treated.
There are a number of common causes of a bump on the head.
Most of these head bumps are not serious and do not require further medical intervention.
A hematoma is a soft bump beneath the scalp that is caused by an accumulation of fluid, including blood. A subcutaneous hematoma usually occurs as the result of a direct injury such as a blow to the head.
In general, scalp hematomas resolve themselves over time. The bump gradually becomes softer as the body breaks down the clot and the shape becomes flatter as the fluid drains away. A hematoma is usually dark-colored to start with, changing to yellowish brown as the blood chemicals within it are metabolized and the clot resolves. Eventually, the bump will disappear altogether.
If you sustain a head injury, you should always seek medical advice to be sure that no serious damage has occurred within the skull itself.
Cysts are round bumps that form on the scalp beneath the skin. They are generally painless and range in size from that of a pea to a small apple.
The cysts are formed by the accumulation of soggy keratin and dead skin cells under the upper layer of the scalp.
Pilar cysts are thought to be hereditary and occur most commonly in women. They occur where the cyst sac develops from cells that are found in the bottom of the hair follicles. Epidermoid cysts are formed from cells that occur in the upper layer of the skin (the epidermis).
Although they are essentially harmless and non-cancerous, the cysts should be removed, as they can cause the hair to temporarily fall out and can look unsightly. Removal of cysts can be quickly and easily carried out in hospital under local anesthetic.
Moles can sometimes grow on the scalp, forming bumps on the head underneath the hair.
Moles are very common. They’re caused by clusters of cells in the skin that produce excessive amounts of melanin pigment. Moles can be inherited or can appear due to exposure to the sun. If the mole is not visible and does not cause problems such as catching when you brush your hair, there’s no need to have it removed.
If the mole changes in appearance, becomes itchy or bleeds, you should consult your doctor.
Melanoma on the scalp is one of the hardest forms of cancer to detect as it is largely hidden by the sufferer’s hair, allowing cancer to grow unnoticed, sometimes for years. Although melanoma is treatable when caught early, it can be fatal if treatment begins too late.
Melanoma is a form of skin cancer that is caused by over-exposure to the sun. Wearing a sun hat is essential if you spend a lot of time outdoors, if you have thinning hair, or if you are bald.
Melanoma on the scalp may present as a mole-like bump on the head. The bump will have indistinct borders, be asymmetrical in shape, have variegated colors and it will grow and change in appearance over time. Melanoma are generally larger than a pencil tip in dimensions.
You should consult your doctor right away if you discover a bump on your head that could be melanoma.
Warts can occur anywhere on the body, including on the scalp.
Warts are caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV). They typically grow in clumps and may feel like bumps on the head when feeling through the hair.
Warts are not painful or serious and can be removed easily by a doctor.
Seborrheic keratoses are common, harmless growths that appear on the scalp. Although they can superficially resemble melanoma, keratoses are not cancerous. Keratoses generally grow in clusters, feeling like a bump on the head through the hair. They generally appear from middle-age onwards.
Seborrheic keratoses appear like waxy blobs on the scalp, rather like candle wax. They can range in size from tiny to in excess of one inch in diameter. Keratoses are not painful, although they can become itchy or irritated when disturbed by hair brushing or scratching the scalp.
Treatment is not generally required, but the keratoses can be removed by a dermatologist if they become unsightly or irritating.
Nevus sebaceous of Jadhaason is a harmless genetic condition where yellowish patches form on the scalp during infancy. These areas can grow into bumps as the person matures and sometimes hair does not grow on patches of the skin that are affected.
Pimples and infected hair follicles can sometimes form bumps on the head as a result of acne. The area around the bump will be painful and reddened, and pus may be present.
Bumps on head that are caused by acne usually resolve by themselves. Over a few days, the bump will rupture and drain. During this time, it can be helpful to apply a topical antiseptic cream to the bump. If you suffer from bad acne elsewhere on your body, it can be helpful to see your doctor, as there are effective shampoos and drug treatments that can be useful if alleviating the condition.
Do not pick or squeeze the pimples, as this could cause the skin to become infected.