The skin on the back of the neck by the hairline comes into contact with many things that can irritate it. As a result, lumps, bumps, and other skin concerns are relatively common here. The lump may be a symptom of a serious health problem like cancer, most lumps on the back of the neck are harmless. It’s fairly easy to find a lump on the back of the neck during daily bathing and dressing, even if you can’t see it.
Symptoms of a lump on the back of the neck
Symptoms of a lump on the back of the neck can vary by person and the lump’s exact location. And it’s underlying cause. Other physical changes can also accompany the appearance of a lump in the back of the neck. You may have any of the following symptoms:
- Pus in the lump
- Being warm to the touch
- Leakage of the fluid, blood, or pus from the lump
- The feeling of a soft and moveable lump (usually benign, meaning noncancerous)
An ingrown hair is a strand of hair that either grows back into itself and reenters your skin or grows under your skin due to a clogged hair follicle. This results in a pimple-like bump around the hair. They’re more common in areas where you regularly remove hair by waxing, shaving, or other methods.
Most ingrown hairs resolve on their own without any treatment. To avoid developing an infection, try not to squeeze or pick at an ingrown hair.
Boils (also called furuncles) are pus-filled bumps that form under the skin due to bacteria in your hair follicles. This swollen follicle usually is sore or painful to the touch. It is often filled with pus and has a pus-filled white or yellow head. Symptoms of a boil include:
- Redness and swelling
- Tenderness and warmth
- Deep cystic acne
It causes lumps and swelling on the back of the neck. Acne develops when sweat, bacteria, and oil block the pores. Although hormonal changes during adolescence often trigger acne, it can appear at any age. A wide variety of over-the-counter (OTC) remedies may help, as many switching shampoos, keeping the neck clean and dry, and keeping the hair off the neck.
A sebaceous cyst is a nodule under the skin that contains the protein keratin. These cysts can grow very large. Most are painless, but if they become infected, they may resemble large pimples. Cysts may come and go, or they may continually grow larger. If the cyst is painful or red, it is important to see a doctor because this is a sign of infection. Warm compresses and OTC pain medication can also help.
The treatment used for a lump in the back of the neck varies based on the cause and stage of the problem. It can also differ based on your age, symptoms, and other medical conditions. A benign lump in the back of the neck may be treated with one of the following types of therapy to manage symptoms until the underlying problem resolves:
- Antibiotic For swollen cervical lymph nodes
- Steroid injections, liposuctions, or surgery to treat a lipoma
- Excision (simply surgery) to remove an epidermoid cyst or lipoma
- Warm compresses or a slave to draw the pus out of a boil, followed by cutting and draining it
- OTC medications like nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Like Advil or Mortin (ibuprofen) and topical creams to relieve pain and inflammation.