Blog

27-10-2021
Should I Worry – Lump on Arm

Lumps and Bumps on Your Body – Should You Start Panicking?

Finding a new lump or bump on your body is usually an unpleasant situation to find yourself in. After all, a lump on the skin can sometimes mean cancer. However, before you start panicking, not all skin bumps and lumps are a cause for concern or worry. In fact, cancers only occur in very rare situations. 

“It is common for patients to be worried because a skin lump or bump is abnormal, even if there is no pain. So, for many people who notice a sudden swelling of the skin that does not go away, their minds can start to make the worst of the situation and assume that they have a serious condition. However, in most cases, these lumps and bumps are nothing to be worried about,” explains Dr Ganesh Ramalingam, Surgeon and Head Doctor of G&L Surgical. 

“Typically, we will diagnose the patient’s skin condition to rule out possibilities of malignant causes, and at the end of the day, if the bump isn’t serious, they have a choice of having it removed or treated. With that said, my advice is to let a professional examine the bump to propose the best course of treatment for the condition. Even if it isn’t something as serious, it’s always better to be sure.”   

While not all skin lumps and bumps are serious, you can’t help but be worried if it happens to you. 

With that said, here’s a guide for you to better understand skin lumps and bumps and whether you should be worried.

Are All Skin Lumps And Bumps A Cause For Concern?

You will be glad to know that most lumps and bumps experienced are harmless and not a cause for concern. A wide variety of skin or medical conditions can cause these bumps to appear on the surface or right below the skin.

Most common lumps and bumps that are not a major concern and usually display characteristics such as the ones listed below:

  • They are soft to the touch
  • They are mobile, meaning the lump may change or move when you touch it
  • They appear right below the skin
  • They grow and may feel more painful when you are engaging in activities but reduce when at rest.

Most lumps that you may experience could be due to exercise or trauma. In such cases, you can observe if the bump grows or diminishes based on specific activities. If triggered, consider resting and follow the RICE method of Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation to alleviate the swelling.

If the lump or swelling subsides with time, it is unlikely that it is malignant or a significant cause for worry.

What Could My Skin Lump Or Bump Be?

Skin lumps can be caused by infections, inflammation, trauma (force/pressure) or disease. 

Doctors will usually require information from you to make a calculated diagnosis. For example, if you have recently been injured near the area of the lump, the lump may be due to scar tissue. 

Nonetheless, here’s a list of possible skin conditions that you may be experiencing:

Swollen Lymph Nodes/Glands

Lymph glands, also known as lymph nodes, are small, oval-shaped organs located throughout your body. 

These glands may swell to more than a few centimetres as a response to infection or disease. They are commonly felt under the chin or in the neck, underarms, or groin area, where they are found in larger groups.

If you have a swollen lymph gland, it may signal the possibility of an infection, illness or stress, which may require treatment

Cysts

Skin cysts are one of the most common conditions that lead to skin lumps and bumps.

Sebaceous cysts, which is a type of skin cyst, develop from your sebaceous glands. The sebaceous glands produce the oil (called sebum) that coats your hair and skin.

Cysts can develop if the gland or its duct (the passage from which the oil leaves) becomes damaged or blocked. This usually occurs due to a trauma to the area.

The trauma may be a scratch, a surgical wound, or a skin condition, such as acne. 

Sebaceous cysts grow slowly, so the trauma may have occurred weeks or months before you notice the cyst.

Other causes of a sebaceous cyst may include:

  • Misshapen or deformed duct
  • Damage to the cells during surgery
  • Genetic conditions, such as Gardner’s syndrome or basal cell nevus syndrome

As sebaceous cysts can develop on any part of the skin, they may even develop on areas such as the hand. 

While it is rare for a sebaceous or epidermoid cyst to present malignancies, highly suspicious lesions that are well confined should be surgically removed and examined carefully to identify any possible risk of developing cancer. 

Lipoma

A lipoma is a small benign mass containing fatty tissues. They can be found anywhere from the neck, shoulders, forearms, arms, and thighs.

Lipomas usually grow under the skin, and they appear soft and moveable to the touch. 

While they are classified as non-cancerous, a lipoma can still grow with time and is often removed for aesthetic purposes. 

At the same time, lipomas can also be mistaken for sarcoma, a cancerous version of the skin. 

If you notice that the skin lumps on your body grow larger or firmer to the touch, you should consider seeking medical advice to eliminate the possibility of cancerous cells. 

In most cases, lipomas can be excised to prevent them from developing further.

Sarcoma

A sarcoma is a rare cancerous lump that can develop anywhere in the body. In these cases, the sarcoma usually grows along the soft tissues of the body, which includes:

  • Muscles
  • Tendons
  • Fats
  • Blood vessels
  • Lymph vessels
  • Nerves and tissues around the joints

Malignant or cancerous cells form in the body’s soft tissues, and most patients with this condition do not display any symptoms as the tumours are often located deep in the tissue.

As the soft tissue sarcomas develop and become more prominent, they become embedded deep in the body, leading to pain and discomfort. 

As with all forms of cancer, early detection is key for recovery. 

Other Causes

Apart from skin conditions, swelling of the skin can be due to other causes. While not all of them may be a sign of something serious, you may want to look out for other conditions such as:

  • Tendonitis.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis.

In such cases, you might experience swelling along with joint pain which may require additional medical attention. 

It is important to recognise that seeking professional medical advice is especially important if any lumps on your body grow or if you start experiencing pain at the region of the bump.

Conclusion

If you discover a lump on your arm or leg or on other parts of your body, do not panic. Benign growths are much more common than conditions like cancer. What’s important is to prioritise seeking professional medical advice to evaluate your condition and if treatment is necessary.

In most cases, you might find out that you simply have a cyst or a lipoma. In such cases, they may not always require treatment, but a surgeon can remove them if they grow in size or become bothersome.

If you are experiencing a skin lump or bump and are unsure of what to do, consider seeking medical advice from a doctor. At G&L Surgical Clinic, we endeavour to provide you with professional and trusted medical advice with your recovery at heart. Call us at +65 8218 7799 to make your appointment today!