What to do if you discover a lump

Dr. Greene discussing lymph nodes vs. lumpsFinding a lump on your child’s body is not necessarily a bad thing, in fact most of the time little lumps it’s a good thing: healthy lymph nodes swell when they are attacking foreign invaders.

The question is how to tell if the lump is well-behaving lymph node or something more serious.

With just a couple of quick checks, you can either quickly rule out anything serious, or know that you and you child should follow-up with a doctor.

Watch the video below tell you how to determine which you’re dealing with.

More information on lumps and lymph nodes:

If there is anything you’d like to know about lumps or lymph nodes that I didn’t address in the video, drop me a comment and I’ll try and shed some light on your question.

Dr. Alan Greene

Dr. Greene is the founder of DrGreene.com (cited by the AMA as “the pioneer physician Web site”), a practicing pediatrician, father of four, & author of Raising Baby Green & Feeding Baby Green. He appears frequently in the media including such venues as the The New York Times, the TODAY Show, Good Morning America, & the Dr. Oz Show.

  1. frank

    Hello dr.I found a lump under my 3yrs old daughter. pls what do I do becos am worried. she saysvi doesn’t hurt.under her left nipple

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  2. Kristine

    Hi Doctor Greene, I had found a soft movable lump about the size of a marvel behind my knee kinda near the crease and a tendon it’s so movable that it’s hard to find at times anyway I went to the doctor he thought it was a lymphnode but had me go and have an ultrasound just to be safe but they saw nothing so my question is would the ultrasound have picked something up if it was really there ?

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  3. Amanda

    hello my 6 year old son has a knot on his left side of neck… its been there since dec29th i took him to doctors they said swollen lymph glands so gave him amoxcillion well here it 11 days later and still there he is done with the 10 day medicine… also when his doctor checked it on the 29th it was 1cm we went back for check up on the 4th of january and it now is 3.2 cm but they dont seem worry!!! what do you think i should do.. i cant seem to get answers thank you in advance!

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  4. Noelle

    Hello! I have a bump that is located just in front of my ear that is very painful to touch. It is very firm and it seems almost connected my jaw bone in from of my ear. I have read about lymph nodes and other such things, but nothing seems to jump out at me; nothing matches up exactly with what I have. Should I see my doctor? Do you think I should be concerned about this?

    Thanks!

    Noelle D.

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    • Hi Noelle,

      Sounds like it’s worth having checked. I’m NOT a doctor, but I had something that sounds very much like what you describe. It turned out to be a cyst that was infected and needed to be removed. It was a very, very simple procedure.

      Hope that helps.
      @MsGreene

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  5. Shonda

    My 17 year old son just found 2 lumps on the back of his head. One is lower at the neck and lower head and the other is directly above it on the back of his head. Then he found another one at the soft spot in front of his ear. His face is severly broke out in acne at the moment, we think it is from his chosen sport of wrestling. He normally does not have bad skin. Do we need to see a physician, we do not have insurance?

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    • Shonda

      I forgot to tell you that they are very tender to the touch, he said he noticed them about 4 days ago?

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    • Wrestlers are well known for “sharing” skin infections. Different infections are treated differently, so you really don’t know what treatment is best until the actual infection has been diagnosed. Sorry!

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  6. kristina

    My daughter is 18 months old. About 6 weeks ago, i noticed a lump about the size of a lima bean in her neck, Right under her ear. Took her to e.r. They said no big deal, and gave her amoxicillin. 5 days into antibiotic, it was about 1.5 times the size, i could tell it caused sensitivity. . Took her back. They gave her antibiotic shot, and acted as though i was being irrational for bringing her back in. Now 6 weeks, two sets of médicine, it is still very apparent. You can see that one side of her cheek/ ear area is swollen. Or is soft, but warm to touch and hasnt gone down in size. I dont know what could be wrong?

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  7. Ahmed elshahawy

    Dr.Green
    I found a soft lump in my 4 years old son’s back (middle left side of his back) please advise as im too worried.
    Many thanks

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  8. rasmus

    Can a tiny foxed lump say .4mm × 2mm be maligant

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  9. rasmus

    Are all fixed lumps cancereous or there are bening cause also

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  10. Lora

    Hi Dr Greene,

    My 2 yr old Grand-son is a former micro-preemie, born at 25 weeks and weighing 1lb 11 oz. He has a small, marble sized, rubbery but doesnt move much, lump on his neck. It is lower than the ear, but more behind. We noticed the lump after he was discharged from a 7 mo stay in the NICU. It was only visible when he turned his head, but now it can be seen with no problem. The Pediatrician continues to say it is a lymph node. He has BPD, but has only been sick a couple times. Can he be fighting off infections continuously? Thank you.

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  11. arab bohara

    iam boy aged18 years old.
    i have one lump in my penis for a years. it located just under the top. it isn’t itchy,paining,raddish in colour but it sized as pea. i didn’t treat it because i have read some health articles.
    and found it won’t harm. its harmless.
    that is why i didnt go anywhere yo treat it.
    but nowdays i heard that it might cause penile cancer in lots of health websites.
    actually iam worried about it. should it harm or nope?
    should i treat or not?
    if i will let it till the death..
    will it effect harmones by lacking?

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    • Natalie

      Hi Dr Greene
      We are worried about a lump on my sons penis, is this a normal place to find lumps?
      He is 4 and has been prone to infection because his foreskin is so tight but we have just discovered this lump at the bottom of his penis (nearest his tummy) it is soft and moves a bit but isn’t painful
      Do you think this is anything to be concerned about?
      He is being referred to the hospital but we are so worried as we have no answers and its taking so long to get an appointment

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  12. Aderra

    My son is 18 months old and uncircumcised. He woke from a nap with a swollen and painful penis. A few hours later the swelling had gone down a bit but now a lump is prevalent under the skin about halfway down the shaft on leftish underside of his penis. He doesn’t want me to touch it because it seems to cause a good deal of pain when touched but it seems softer and there doesn’t seem to be any discharge. I am trying to get him a dr appointment but any feedback would be helpful.

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  13. Dawn Winkelmann

    OMG this video was so informative! I constantly have swollen lymph nodes and my doctor always talks about surgery, but then it goes away. I am so thankful to know it’s just my body working against infections. Since I work with kids 12 hours a day, I fight infections a lot!

    Thanks Dr. Greene!

    Dawn Winkelmann, M.S,CCC-SLP
    Speech Pathologist/Feeding Specialist

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    • Alan Greene

      Thank _you_ Dawn. And for your important work!

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  14. Lisa Anne Davies

    My daughter is 2 years and has a lump in her artery in her neck. (I say artery, it is the main blood vessel on her right). It is raised and very noticeable when she shouts or screams. My husband has noticed it also are we are concerned but feel a little silly taking her to the doctor. She had colic as a baby due to lactose interlerance and spent 15 hours a day screaming and I’m not sure whether it has been caused by that. It was fairly noticeable since she was about 3 months old.

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  15. Emily Hamblin

    Hi Dr Green
    My son has just had his 2nd Birthday this week. He has a lump on his penis – about half way down the shaft and under the skin (it doesn’t move when you move the skin over it). It is quite well deliniated but is soft rather than hard. It has been growing for about 6 months. I have now taken him to 2 doctors. Both have said that it is not something to worry about. the first said it was a sebacious cyst, the second said smegma. (not sure if these are the same). The second said that he needs to have a circumcision as it is there because his foreskin is too tight and I ought to be manipulating it to ease it up. She wants to circumcise him in 6 months. I thought that it was normal for the foreskin to be tight at this age and that it shouldn’t be manipulated that it would ease up on its own? He doesn’t have ballooning or infection surely circumcision should be a last resort?

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    • Alan Greene

      Hi Emily,

      A common benign finding in uncircumcised boys is something called smegma or a preputial cyst. It’s just extra old skin cells that collect in a pocket because the foreskin isn’t fully retractible yet. These are usually well-delineated, and sometimes pearly white under the skin. They actually help the separation of the foreskin and the glans of the penis, and are squeezed out on their own once the foreskin becomes easier to retract. Nothing needs to be done for this in the meantime.

      Phimosis is the name of not being able to retract the foreskin. There is both normal phimosis and phimosis that should be treated.

      Normal phimosis is present in almost all newborn boys. The opening is soft and pliant, but doesn’t retract much. While there is usually some movement by age 2, in only about 8% of normal uncircumcised boys does it fully retract by 1st grade. This typically eases up on its own, as you’ve said. There’s no rush at all. Most are fully retractible by 7th grade.

      I’ve written about the care and cleaning of an uncircumcised penis here: http://www.drgreene.com/qa-articles/cleaning-penis-intact-foreskin/

      Circumcision isn’t needed for normal phimosis or for smega/preputial cysts. Gentle, but not forcible, manipulation can be okay.

      With problem phimosis, the opening is usually hard, or scarred, or has a white ring. You may see frequent infections, ballooning, urinary problems, or new tightening after it used to be loose. A pediatrician or pediatric urologist can help to diagnose this.

      Thanks, Emily, for looking into this for your son.

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      • Emily Hamblin

        Many Thanks, that has put my mind at ease.
        Emily

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        • Alan Greene

          My pleasure! Great question.

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