Different Types of Headaches and Which You Should See a Doctor For

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Bump on the Head: When to See a Doctor and Causes

written by Tessa Chatham Registered Nurse Written by Tessa Chatham Registered Nurse
Tessa Chatham Registered Nurse

Tessa Chatham Registered Nurse

Tessa is a MSN prepared Registered Nurse with 10 years of critical care experience in healthcare. When not practicing clinical nursing, she enjoys academic writing and is passionate about helping those affected by medical aliments live healthy lives.

Read more posts by this author.

July 11, 2022 Read Time - 5 minutes

What is a Bump on the Head?

Bumps on your head can occur from a variety of causes, vary in size, and can be mild to severe. Bumps can be tiny or large. Not all bumps require a visit to the doctor’s office. However, based on the cause of the bump, you may have to seek medical care.

What Does a Bump on the Head Look Like?

A bump on the head is any size lump, protrusion, puffiness, or localized swelling that is underneath your skin. Each bump will look different depending on the cause. The following are causes of bumps on the head and what they look like:

  • Acne: Small red, skin-colored, or white bumps on the surface or deep beneath the skin
  • Direct injuries: Small bumps that get bigger over time, direct injury bumps may look bruised and swollen
  • Cyst: A red, white, yellow, or skin-colored bump or sac under the skin that is filled with fluid or air
  • Ingrown hair (folliculitis): Pus-filled or pimple-like bumps that are red, sore, and swollen
  • Insect bites or stings: Bumps vary in size and shape, but are generally raised areas on the surface of the skin and are red, swollen, and sometimes pus-filled
  • Fatty tumor (benign lipoma): Soft, rubbery bump that moves under your finger if you press down
  • Bone spur: A hard and bony bump made of overgrown bone around a joint usually seen on the neck or back of the head
  • Sinus infection (sinusitis): Bumps and swelling around the forehead, eyelids, between the eyes, and over the bridge of the nose where the sinus cavity is located
  • Tumor: Bump on the skull or head that is cancerous, in rare cases

What Symptoms May Be Associated With a Bump on the Head

Most bumps on the head have similar symptoms regardless of the cause. Most bumps have similarities, with the only difference being the size of the bump. Common symptoms associated with a bump on the head include:

  • Swelling
  • Redness
  • Tenderness
  • Itching
  • Bruising
  • Warmth to the touch
  • Drainage
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Bump on the Head Causes

Bumps on the head are caused by different mechanisms. Bumps on the head can be caused by direct injury or trauma, acne, cysts, infections, ingrown hairs, bone spurs, or tumors. Most bumps are caused by something easily explainable. Bumps are rarely caused by tumors. Most bumps on the head are benign and easily treatable. The most severe types of bumps are those that can get infected or ones that are signs of a neurological problem or brain damage.

How to Know If a Bump On the Head is Serious

A bump on the head is serious if you noticed the bump after an injury. Not all bumps on the head require a doctor’s attention, but if you or a loved one experienced a head injury coupled with a bump, particularly immediately following the injury, you should seek medical care. A bump on the head after an injury could indicate a concussion, hematoma, or other brain injuries. A bump on the head is serious if you have:

  • Loss of consciousness (you blacked out)
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Confusion
  • Seizures
  • Differences in speech, hearing, or vision
  • Weakness or numbness
  • Fluid draining from eyes, ears, or nose
  • Bruising around the eyes
  • Different sized pupils comparing each eye
  • Vomiting or nausea
  • Dizziness, migraines, or severe headaches

If you have any of these symptoms you should seek medical treatment immediately.

Bump On the Head Diagnosis

Bumps on the head are diagnosed after a doctor completes a medical assessment. Your doctor can visually see the cause of the bump most of the time. An exam and discussion about when you noticed the bump will help your doctor to finalize a diagnosis. Your doctor can easily diagnose acne, cysts, lipoma, ingrown hairs, bone spurs, and head injury. If a head injury is suspected, your doctor will ask you several questions about the injury. If a tumor or head trauma is suspected, your doctor will prescribe imaging exams to gather more information.

How Long Does a Small Bump On the Head Last?

A small bump on the head should last no more than a few days and should clear up on its own without the need to seek medical treatment. However, if the bump has lasted a few weeks or you are concerned, make an appointment to speak with one of our board-certified doctors online.

Bump on the Head Treatment

Treatment for bumps on the head includes prescription medications, rest, and hot/cold therapy. Many bumps on the head heal on their own with simple at-home treatment. At-home treatment includes over-the-counter medication for mild to moderate pain and reduces swelling. Resting and making sure to get enough sleep will help the bump heal quicker. Cold and warm compresses can help alleviate swelling and reduce certain types of cysts. 

Depending on the cause, head bumps are easily treatable. If the bump is caused by acne, antibiotics may be prescribed to help reduce the bump and prevent or cure infections. A serious bump caused by trauma will need a physician to perform a neurological examination and possible diagnostic scans such as a CT scan or MRI scan. Your doctor may prescribe physical therapy for those with bone spur bumps to help with joint strengthening exercises.

When To See a Doctor for a Bump On the Head

Not all bumps on the head require a doctor’s attention, but if you think your bump is infected, oddly shaped, or you suffered an injury, make an appointment to speak with a doctor. Most of the time, bumps on your head are easily treated and are mild. If you are worried about a bump, you should speak with a doctor to give you peace of mind. If your bump is serious, then your doctor will guide you in the next steps and create an individualized treatment plan.

  • Book on our free mobile app or website.

    Our doctors operate in all 50 states and same day appointments are available every 15 minutes.

  • See a doctor, get treatment and a prescription at your local pharmacy.

  • Use your health insurance just like you normally would to see your doctor.

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Read More about Bump on Head Treatment:


Sources:

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Center for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021). Disease or condition of the week. Concussions. Accessed on June 25, 2022 from Concussions | Disease or Condition of the Week | CDC

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