What causes neck lumps
What is causing this lump under my chin?
A lump under the chin is a bump, mass, or swollen area that appears under the chin, along the chin line, or on the front of the neck. In some cases, more than one lump can develop.
Lumps under the chin are usually harmless. Most of the time, they are caused by swollen lymph nodes. This swelling is typically caused by an infection.
Cancer, cysts, abscesses, benign tumors, and other medical problems can also cause lumps of the chin. However, these causes are much rarer in comparison.
A lump under the chin may appear as a boil or abscess. It can feel soft or hard. Some lumps will feel tender or even painful, while others will not cause pain. If neck lumps aren't causing pain, they can be present for a long time before you even notice them.
Read on to find out what causes a lump under the chin and how to treat this condition.
Causes of lumps under the chin
Chin lumps can be caused by:
Both bacterial and viral infections can cause a lump to form under the chin. Many of these lumps are swollen lymph nodes.
Lymph nodes are part of your immune system's network that protects your body from disease. Many are in the head and neck, including under the jaw and chin. Lymph nodes are small and flexible. They can be round or bean-shaped.
It is common for lymph nodes in the head and neck to swell. When they do, it is usually a sign of an underlying illness. When puffy, they can range from the size of a pea to a large olive. They may feel tender, painful to the touch, or hurt when you chew or turn your head in a certain direction.
Common infections that can cause swelling in the lymph nodes include:
- Upper respiratory tract infections, including colds and flu
- Ear infection
- Sinus infection
- Sore throat
- an infected (abscess) tooth or any oral infection
- Mononucleosis (mono)
- Skin infections, such as cellulite
Many other conditions can cause the lymph node to swell and form a lump under the chin. These include viruses such as HIV and tuberculosis. Immune system disorders, such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, can also cause swollen lymph nodes.
If you have a lump under your chin caused by a swollen lymph node, you may also experience other symptoms, such as:
- other swollen lymph nodes, such as in the groin or under the arms
- Symptoms of an upper respiratory infection, such as a cough, sore throat, or runny nose
- Chills or night sweats
Lumps under the chin caused by swelling of the lymph nodes from infection should go away on their own. Your doctor may recommend that you monitor the swelling.
Treating the underlying infection will reduce the lymph node swelling. If you have an infection, you may be prescribed antibiotics or antiviral drugs. Your doctor may also recommend over-the-counter medications such as ibuprofen (Advil), naproxen (Aleve), or acetaminophen (Tylenol) to treat pain and inflammation. In severe cases, infected lymph nodes may need to be drained of pus.
Cancer can also cause a lump to form under the chin. Although cancer is more likely to affect older adults, it can occur at any age.
There are a variety of ways cancer can cause a lump to form. For example, a lump may form under the chin if:
- Cancer affects a nearby organ such as the mouth, throat, thyroid, or salivary gland
- Cancer from a distant organ metastasizes or spreads to the lymph nodes
- Cancer develops in the lymphatic system (lymphoma)
- Nonmelanoma skin cancer appears under the chin
- Sarcoma appears under the chin
Certain types of cancer can also cause the lymph nodes to swell. These include leukemia, Hodgkin disease, and others.
Cancerous lumps usually feel tough. They are not tender or painful to the touch.
Similar symptoms vary depending on the type of cancer. Some warning labels may contain:
- Wounds that don't heal
- Changes in your bladder or bowel activity
- Lumps elsewhere in the body
- difficulties swallowing
- unexplained discharge or bleeding
- Changes in the size, shape, and color of warts, moles, and mouth sores
- a nagging cough
- unexplained weight loss
- Changes in voice
- recurring infections
When a lump under the chin is caused by a malignant tumor, there are a number of treatments available. Your doctor might suggest chemotherapy, radiation, or surgery to remove the lump. Treatment will depend on a number of factors, including your current health, the type of cancer and its stage. Your doctor will help you understand which treatment is right for you.
Cysts and benign tumors
Other growths are not cancerous. These include cysts - sacs filled with fluid, or other substances - and benign (non-cancerous) tumors. Benign tumors develop when cells begin to divide abnormally. Unlike malignant (malignant) tumors, they cannot invade neighboring tissues or spread to other parts of the body.
Some types of cysts and benign tumors that can form a lump under the chin include:
- Epidermoid (sebum) cysts
Sebaceous cysts, lipomas, and fibroids can be either soft or firm.
Most cysts and benign tumors are usually not painful. However, they can cause discomfort. As a cyst or tumor grows, it can put pressure on nearby structures.
Many cysts and benign tumors have no related symptoms. However, if the cyst or benign tumor is close to the surface of the skin, it can become irritated, inflamed, or infected.
A number of other health conditions can cause a lump to form under the chin. These include:
- Salivary canal stones
- Food allergies
- an injury
- Insect bites or bites
- broken bones
- a broken jaw
- certain drugs
In these cases, symptoms and treatment will depend on the source of the lump.
When to see a doctor
A lump under your chin should go away on its own. In most cases, treatment for an underlying condition, such as an infection, will reduce the swelling.
You should see a doctor if:
- You have an unexplained lump of chin
- Your chin lump is growing (a sign of a possible tumor)
- Your chin lump has been present for two weeks
- Your chin lump is hard to the touch or won't move even when squeezed
- Your chin lump is accompanied by unexplained weight loss, fever, or night sweats
You should seek medical help immediately, if
- You have difficulty breathing
- You have difficulty swallowing
Take that away
Finding a lump under the chin is usually not a cause for alarm. Many times, lumps are caused by lymph nodes that are swollen from an infection. Upper respiratory infections, including the common cold and flu, often cause enlarged lymph nodes.
In some cases, something else is causing a lump to form under the chin. Cancer, cysts, benign tumors, and other diseases can cause lumps in the chin.
Lumps under the chin can go away on their own. Contact a doctor if you notice any of the warning signs listed above.
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