Lumps, Bumps and Cysts

There are literally hundreds of different kinds of lumps, bumps and cysts associated with the skin. Fortunately, the vast majority of these are harmless and painless.


  • Red, brown or purple growth; generally benign
  • Usually found on arms and legs
  • Feels like a hard lump
  • Can be itchy, tender to the touch and sometimes painful

Epidermoid Cysts (Sebaceous Cysts)

  • Round small bumps, usually white or yellow
  • Forms from blocked oil glands in the skin
  • Most commonly appear on the face, back, neck, trunk and genitals
  • Usually benign; occasionally leads to basal or squamous cell skin cancers
  • If infected, will become red and tender
  • Can produce a thick yellow, cheese-like discharge when squeezed


  • Red pimples around areas having hair
  • Inflammation of the hair follicles
  • Caused by infection or chemical or physical irritation (e.g., shaving, fabrics)
  • Higher incidence among people with diabetes, the obese or those with compromised immune systems


  • Red, dome-shaped, thick bumps with craters in the center
  • Abnormal growth of hair cells
  • Triggered by minor skin injury such as a cut or bug bite
  • Ultraviolet radiation from sun exposure is the most common risk factor


  • Soft fatty tissue tumors or nodules below the skin’s surface
  • Usually slow growing and benign
  • Appear most commonly on the trunk, shoulders and neck
  • May be single or multiple
  • Usually painless unless putting pressure on a nerve


  • Soft fleshy growths under the skin
  • Slow growing and generally benign and painless
  • Pain may indicate a need for medical attention
  • May experience an electrical shock at the touch

Skin Cysts

  • Closed pockets of tissue that can be filled with fluid or pus
  • Can appear anywhere on the skin
  • Smooth to the touch; feels like a pea underneath the surface
  • Slow growing and generally is painless and benign
  • Only needs attention if it becomes infected or inflamed