Skin Lumps & Bumps: Symptoms, Treatments, and When to Worry

Skin changes as we age, so it’s natural to see some discoloration and differences in texture over time. Yet, when you suddenly feel a bump you don’t recognize, it can be unsettling. While it’s a good idea to discuss any new skin developments with one of our practitioners, here are some common causes of lumps and bumps to review in the meantime, as well as their symptoms and treatments.


A soft, rubbery lump just under the skin, a lipoma is a noncancerous tumor. They’re most commonly found in people ages 40 to 60 and can appear in the arms, buttocks, thighs, shoulders, and upper back. If they cause discomfort or are a cosmetic concern, lipomas can be removed. However, they present little risk for becoming cancerous and typically do not change over time.


Like lipomas, cysts form just beneath the skin. These fluid-filled sacs grow slowly and can range in size. Young and middle-aged adults are most likely to develop skin cysts, especially in tandem with acne. If a cyst develops redness, irritation, or odorous pus, it may have grown into an abscess or boil, in which case it requires professional treatment. 


Warts are contagious but benign growths caused by the human papillomavirus. The skin condition can be passed by sharing towels and other personal items, going barefoot in damp public areas such as pools, and having open skin wounds through which the virus can pass. 

They often appear on the hands, but can develop elsewhere on the body. Warts have a rough texture and are typically flesh-colored, though they can be darker. Over-the-counter medications can be used to fight warts, but they should be covered until they heal to reduce the risk of spreading.


Lymphomas of the skin can develop as lesions, including patches, papules, or plaques. They’re typically itchy, red or purple, and scaly — though may also appear as larger nodules under the skin. If cancerous lymphomas spread to the lymph nodes, a swollen lump may be felt in the neck, groin, or underarm. Be sure to visit a doctor with any of these symptoms to be properly diagnosed and given the proper treatment.

MRSA (Staph) Infection

While methicillin-resistant staph infections can develop in people who have been hospitalized, there’s also a different MRSA variant that circulates throughout the community. Known as community-associated MRSA (CA-MRSA), this infection begins as a skin boil and is spread through skin-to-skin contact. Child care and healthcare workers are more at risk. 

The swollen, red bump may look like a spider bite or pimple, but can quickly transform into an abscess. If a skin bump seems to be worsening and is accompanied by a fever, head to a doctor’s office right away. Antibiotics can treat the infection, and if needed, the boil can be drained.If you have any new skin developments that are causing you concern, turn to Olansky Dermatology. Our experienced providers can diagnose your condition and offer treatment options for a wide range of skin conditions. Book your appointment online or by calling (404) 355-5484.