How To Tell When A Lump On Your Body Is Cause For Concern

Finding a lump or bump on your body is never a fun discovery. The mind can jump to conclusions easily and assume the worst in no time. And even though bumps don't typically mean anything is wrong, there are times when a lump can be cause for concern. So how can you tell the difference?

Most of the time, lumps on the body are harmless and nothing to worry about, according to the Cleveland Clinic. If the bump can be connected to a trauma or certain activity such as exercise, it might not be anything serious. You can follow the basic RICE method (rest, ice, compression, and elevation) to see if it improves. Cysts are also common explanations for bumps on the body. Per MedlinePlus, cysts are abnormal pouches of tissue, often filled with material such as pus, fluid, or air. 

According to the Cleveland Clinic, lumps or bumps that aren't worrisome are often soft and located in the superficial or fat layer of skin. They may move around and change form easily, or get large and painful when you're moving around but then subside when you're at rest.

When to call your doctor

Sometimes, a lump might warrant a call to a doctor. If it's large, hard, painless to the touch, or has appeared spontaneously, it could mean that it's cancerous (via Cleveland Clinic). If it's cancerous, it might grow in size steadily and could show up in the breast, testicle, or neck. It could also appear in the arms or legs, too.

Some bumps might not be cancerous, but could still be worth mentioning to your doctor. These include masses due to tendinitis, swollen lymph nodes, or rheumatoid arthritis.

If you consult a doctor, they'll probably ask some questions to determine whether your lump will require further testing and care (via Healthline). They might ask when you first discovered it, how many there are, if it hurts, if you're experiencing other symptoms, and the color, shape, and texture of the lump. The shape and color are especially important, as certain kinds of changes could indicate skin cancer. Bleeding is another red flag.

If you're not sure about an abnormality on your skin, it's always a good idea to contact your doctor to be safe. In particular, Cleveland Clinic urges seeing your doctor if your lump is growing, if it is larger than two inches, or if it is painful or persists for more than a couple of weeks.