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. David Brown

    My daughter has a lump the size of a three golf balls under her right side we went to see speciallist says its a hemangioma, plus it could be cystic

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    • David Brown

      She’s only 3 years old three and a half years old

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  2. Maria

    Hi my son has a lump on the back of his neck. It’s about half a penny big but he says it hurts when j touch it. It is not rock hard.

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  3. Diane

    Dr Greene, my 9 year old granddaughter has a hard lump on the left side of her neck. I took her to her pediatrician who ran tests and then gave her antibiotics to take for 10 days. The lump is still there and kind of hard but cause no pain to her. The pediatrician said she has to run more tests after the 10 days. Is this bump normal for a child?

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  4. Irene layogie

    My son is turning 8 years old this coming july 27.he has a neck lumps on the right side of his neck.when i touch his lumps i asked him if its painful,he said no pain.i discover this lumps when he was almost 4 years.until now the size is not increasing. What is this doc? What should i do?

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  5. fiona

    my 8 year old son has had a swollen gland on he’s neck for 2 months last week i found a bump on he’s lower part of he’s head . I took him to our doctors & he found another 2 swollen lymph nodes on he’s neck he said they felt like soft peas. We have to take him back in a month & if they are still there we will be referred to ent specialist.My son hasn’t been ill & is full of energy but i am worried sick . please reply

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    • Allison

      My son now 5 had about 6 swollen nodes on each side of neck when he eas 3 this went on for months our dr said maybe a bug bite ….yeah right! Anyway i decided to take to ent he had his tonsils and adnoids out a few weeks later and those swollen nodes went down completely hes very skinny so i think it looked worse than it was but i was terrified! The drs all told me the place to worry for any swollen lymph nodes is the collar bone. He is a very active happy 5 year old now. I didnt even know he needed his tonsils out but he did one was a lot bigger than the other too so that worried me. All is good.

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  6. Chris Alejandre

    I’m scared I might have something because I found a lump behind my neck

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  7. Gina

    My 4 year old son has a marble sized lump at the back of his throat. He has had for at least a month now and everytime we see a doctor we are told it a viral infection. It seems to have got slightly bigger since the last time we saw a doctor and I’m worried about his airway. Please can you give me some advice on how to handle this now as I don’t seem to get anywhere with our gp.

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  8. Sarah abbott

    My daughter had a lump come up on her neck she 2 years old she not bin ill but does have problems but 10days later we went back to the doctor and there was 10 limps he don’t no what thay are but is going for Mri soon I’m so worried tho

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  9. Tara Fabrizi

    My daughters lump is on the side closer to her ear.

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  10. Maria

    My 16 year old son has a hard lump on the back of his head just above the base of his neck any ideas

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    • Lesa

      My 14!year old son also have a hard bump/lump in the same place , maybe a bit higher above the hair line. My son said it feels sore when touched or when he wears a baseball cap. He did not fall or bump his head in any way –

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      • Karen

        My 6 year old has the same thing. I just found it tonight. I’m worried.

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      • Tabatha whaley

        My 14 year old son has the same thing. He has always had it. We he was 2 I took him to be checked out and the doctor said it was nothing. It’s still there. He says it hurts every now and then.

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  11. Mary F Carroll

    My Goddaughter has marbal size bump on her spine what can this be and should she see the doctor it was not there yesterday but today it is she is 1 yr old

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  12. khatija

    Hi my baby is 9mnths and she’s gt lump on under her right jaw pls advice how to treat thanx.

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  13. Jana

    Last night I noticed a significant lump on the back of my 6 yo daughter’s neck. It is one finger’s width to the right of her C5 or C6 (that’s a guess) and I did not notice it prior to last night. I do not know if this is a lymph node or not. It is bigger than a pea, I believe. And there is no lump to the left of the spine. When she looks down I can see the lump with the lights off. She is not ill in any way, shape, or form and I’ve asked her about 5 times if it hurt when I pressed on it and she said no every time. Trying not to go straight to cancer in my mind and am looking for a little reassurance here!

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    • Cat

      Jana- I was wondering the outcome when you took your daughter to the doctor.? I’m having the same exact issue with my 12year old daughter and I’m kinda freaking out

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  14. Leah

    I just noticed 3 little lumps in my 3 year old daughter’s head. It’s in the middle closer to the top of her head. They’re not painful to touch. Two days before I noticed her scalp was dry and one bump pussed so I loosed her braids and washed it with the Sulpur 8 kids anti dandruff shampoo. The dryness is going but now the lumps

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  15. vanessa rogers

    Hello I have a four and half month old daughter and I have just noticed a lump on the top of her head in the back and it’s hard and the size of a pea and I’m worried sick from it and she doesn’t have a doctors appt til the 28 of march and no openings for sooner. I’ve searched and searched and I’m only finding things about lumps in the back of the head or behind ears and nothing about lumps on the top of the head in the back and I’m starting to be more worried cuz there is no info similar to mine. Can you please tell me something please? I understand I should see my pediatrician and am going to asap but can you tell me what you think please thank you so much

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  16. Shivangi

    Hello Dr.. My son is 7 n a half year old… Wen he was 2 yrs he got a greenish lump on his upper right arm… It was alarming n I contacted Dr but he said its nothing to worry… Thn when he was 4 yrs he got one more lump on left arm near elbow… Now it’s grown to pea size n is greenish… But it’s not painful…, please guide me wht it can be n wht shud I do… Thanx

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  17. Joycee Bastain

    Treating the Lump Behind Ear

    Lipomas cannot be treated and will simply go away on their own, but all of the other causes of ear lumps have different remedies available. Some are even possible to do at home.

    Mastoiditis: The cause of the lump is an underlying ear infection. Create a strained mixture of olive oil and garlic oil and place one to two drops into the infected ear.
    Lymphadenopathy: The swollen node is in your neck. Gargling turmeric or salt water can help alleviate the symptoms.

    Cyst and abscess: Do not “pop” a cyst or abscess. Instead, a warm compress can help drain the fluid and offer some relief from any discomfort or pain. A cyst can sometimes be treated using tea tree oil as well. Soak a cotton swab in tea tree oil and hold it to the cyst for about five minutes, then wash with an oil-free soap. This will help dry up the fluid inside the cyst and help relieve any swelling.

    Home remedies: Home remedies are best used for only short periods. If your symptoms persist, especially without any relief, the matter is best brought to a doctor’s attention.

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  18. leah calame

    Taking my son to the toilet I found say (3/4 pea) size lump on his family jewel; male parts. It doesn’t seem to be sore for him or anything. Just wondered if it could be a boil or something.

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  19. 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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  20. 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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  21. 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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    • Ruby Tash

      My granddaughter has a large lump on the side of her neck and Drs said they think its cat scratch fever and put her on antibiotics. The lump is bigger and now also very red. They did an ultrasound and bloodwork but arent giving us a definate answer. We dont know what to do. Shes only 14 months old.

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  22. 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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  23. 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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  24. 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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  25. 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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  26. rasmus

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

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  27. rasmus

    Are all fixed lumps cancereous or there are bening cause also

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  28. 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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  29. 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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      • Regina

        Hi Natalie,
        Did you ever find out what happened? My son is 4 and I just found one in the same spot as you described your sons lump. It is soft and moves, also it is not painful. I hope your son is fine.

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  30. 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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  31. 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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  32. 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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  33. 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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          • Deep

            Hi Dr. Greene,
            All your posts are date back to 2013. I am not sure if this topic is still active and if I will get a reply. Got my fingers crossed though.

            There is a small cyst on the inner right thigh of my 16 month (1 year and 4 months) old daughter? What is it? Is it a lymphoma?
            The lump was there for quite a long time. We noticed it when she was 6 months old. Now as she is growing, the lump has also grown a little bigger in size. We are not sure if it is a lymphoma. Has anyone faced this problem with their little ones?
            I know that lymphoma is a not good (cancerous) but what are the usual locations of a lymphoma? Can this be treated with stem cells as we have got my daughter’s stem cells stored?
            I am so worried. Please help

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