A bump on any part of our body can be quite alarming. Lumps can be understood as abnormal growths under or above the surface. These are pretty common at the back of your neck and could be due to any reason including an ingrown hair or a swollen lymph node.
Most of the times, a bulge on back of neck is nothing very serious. However, it best to know of possible explanations behind the lump. Therefore, here’s a look at all the possible reasons that you may note a bulge on your nape:
1. Swollen lymph node
A possible explanation behind a bulge on your neck is a swollen lymph node. To understand this better, it is best to comprehend what the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system is made of several tiny vessels that are made with lymph vessels, wherein, a fluid called lymph flows.
These vessels circulate throughout the vessel and help protect the body from infections. Lymph nodes are part of this system and they are sites where the lymph fluid collects so that waste and bacteria can be filtered through it. The bacteria are then destroyed by the white blood cells.
Although lymph nodes are abundant in the body, they are commonly found on sites such as your underarms and neck. When there are a lot of bacteria in the lymph nodes, these can swell, which brings us to the bulge in your neck. These lumps can be painful and can also cause discomfort in moving your neck and swallowing.
2. Sebaceous cysts
It is also possible that the lump in the back of your neck is due to a sebaceous cyst. These are common cyst types that occur due to damaged or blocked sebaceous glands. The glands can secrete sebum, which is an oily substance that is responsible for lubricating your hair and skin.
These feel like small, soft bumps and commonly occur in the neck, torso, or face. In several cases, such cysts are recognizable just by looking at them. Sometimes, additional testing may be required if the bump exhibits signs of infections such as pus, pain, or redness, have a diameter that is larger than 5 centimeters, and grows back quickly after it is removed.
In most occasions, these sebaceous cysts are harmless. You can always get it removed with a minor surgical process though.
Another reason for a neck bump is a boil. Boils also go by the name of furuncles and are pus-containing bumps that are formed under the skin due to bacteria in the hair follicles. Boils can surface anywhere, these are common in hairy areas, which are exposed to significant friction and sweat.
This is why your neck is suitable for boils to form. Some of the common signs of boils include a pea-sized lump that is painful, redness and swelling, an increasing size, and a yellow or white tip that may drain pus.
In the case of small boils, you can try a warm compress, which can help to drain the boil. In cases of larger boils that can grow to the size of a golf ball, you will need to get in touch with a doctor.
This is an inflammation of the tonsils that are present the back of your throat. A tonsil is a structure that is shaped like a ball and it plays a crucial role in protecting the body against harmful bacteria.
However, inflammation occurs when the tonsils are infected due to an over-accumulation of bacteria. Inflamed tonsils reach a finale of a lump on your neck, possibly the front. As the infection progresses though, the lymph nodes that are located on the back of your neck are exposed to the risk of inflammation and infection as well.
In an instance of mild tonsillitis, you can gargle with salt water to relieve pain and cleanse the issue. If the infection aggravates, you can visit your doctor to get antibiotics and prescription medication.
This is a form of cancer that occurs in the lymphatic system. The white blood cells present in the lymph fluid may begin to multiply abnormally. Such cells are considered cancerous. These will be eventually collect in the lymph node and form a tumor that can felt through the skin as an emerging bulge.
Consequently, you can feel a hard mass in the back of your neck. As in the case of other cancer types, lymphoma is also treated by means of chemotherapy, using drugs to kill the cancer cells. Radiation therapy may also be employed for getting rid of the lump.
6. Muscle or tendon injury
Another cause for the bulge in the back of your neck is an injury to your muscles or tendon. Tendons and muscles are responsible for keeping the body in shape. However, a pull or injury can cause the muscle to move from its original position.
Consequently, the damaged muscle sticks out, which results in the formation of a lump. An injured or torn muscle make it difficult to move the head, causes sharp pain in movement, and makes your neck stiff as well.
It is possible that your tendon or muscle is injured due to strenuous exercise or a car accident. The best treatment is resting and applying ice instantly to the injured area. This will help relieve stiffness and pain. Avoid sudden movement of your neck as well. You may also need anti-inflammatory medications.
7. An ingrown hair
An ingrown hair is a strand of hair that either reenters your skin and grows under it owing to a clogged hair follicle or grows back into itself. Consequently, you will note a pimple-like bump around the hair.
Such bumps are common in the areas where you wax, shave, or remove hair by any other methods. Several people also remove hair on the nape of their neck. Thus, it is possible that the bulge in the back of your neck is due to an ingrown hair.
If you have short hair, then the possibility of ingrown hair on your nape is high. You may have one or you may have a cluster of several ingrown hairs. Most of these can be resolved on their own. However, to avoid developing an infection, try to avoid picking at the ingrown hair or squeezing it.
When to reach out to a doctor?
Now that you know the prominent reasons behind a bulge on the back of neck, the next question is when should you consult a doctor? Some of the important times when you should get in touch with a doctor are when you note the following things:
- A lump that is not moveable and hard
- A lump that changes or grows rapidly
- A bump that does not go away even after 2-4 weeks
- A lump that comes in the company of weight loss and night sweats
- When you observe symptoms of infection, for instance, fever
Summing up, Healthline states that most of the lumps on the nape are nothing to worry about. However, there are several reasons behind the bumps, so you can never be so sure. Give the lump some time to heal. If it doesn’t or occurs with other infection symptoms, then you need to talk to a doctor at your earliest.