A bump on the back of the head may raise alarms as it could be more than just a bump. Most cases of a lump on the back of the head are the result of a benign growth or a mild head injury. It may be so minuscule that it may not be noticed unless the hair is brushed or washed. And, knowing the signs and symptoms to watch for may help in determining the cause.
Whether there is the presence of a lump on the back of the head on the right side or a lump on the back of the head on the left side, there may be a natural or a medical treatment available.
Symptoms of a Bump on the Back of the Head
Depending on the underlying cause and the condition of the bumps, a new growth may appear in various forms. If a lump on the back of the head hurts to the touch, it may also have accompanying symptoms with characteristics that can include:
- A raised bump on the scalp
- Transparent or dark-colored bumps
- A soft or hard bump
- The appearance of a single bump or cluster of them
- A round or oval-shaped bump
- Red patches or a rash surrounding the bump
What Causes a Bump on the Back of the Head
Lumps on the head may vary in size, location, and severity depending on the type of bump. Identifying the possible causes of a bump on the back of the head may help to narrow down the originating source and pinpoint proper treatment options.
A lipoma is a benign tumor as a result of the formation of fat cells that develop into a hard bump on the skin’s surface. It may be seen on the head or neck, but is more commonly seen in other parts of the body.
Thought to be genetic, this small lump may appear soft in the beginning and hardens as it grows. It may show as a lump behind the ear or another part of the scalp.
Aside from the possible pain, most cases are more of an unsightly or inconsequential issue. The lipoma bump may also develop under the skin surface only detected by feeling a hardness on the head.
A sebaceous cyst on the back of head appears as a fluid-filled lump that may leak and develop into a hardened bump. It may be surrounded by redness, inflammation, and possible flakes of skin particles. It may also be painful and swollen.
This form of bump on the back of the head is often caused by the sebaceous glands becoming clogged with dirt, debris, and dead skin cells.
3. Ingrown Hair
A bump on the head may be an ingrown hair that has developed from a cut or shaving the hair follicle close to the head. It is commonly seen in males.
This type of bump may produce swelling, pain, and redness. Also, it may develop into an infectious condition if constantly picked or scratched.
An arthritic condition known as gout may result in bump-like, hardened particles called tophi. They are caused by crystalized uric acid that develops in conjunction with the high levels of uric acid in the bloodstream.
These types of bumps may present pain, swelling, and redness at the joints, including the head. They usually disappear as uric acid levels drop.
5. Pilar Cyst
A bump on the scalp may be a pilar cyst. This type of lump can be found at the hair follicle and is a collection of keratin. Keratin is a protein within the make-up of hair and the outer skin surface.
These hard bumps may appear with swelling and may be painful. And, some cases of pilar cysts are cancerous.
6. Basal Cell Carcinoma
Basal cells produce new cells to replace dying ones. When basal cells rapidly develop into cancerous cells, it is known as a condition called basal cell carcinoma.
These bumps form with excessive exposure to the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays over a long period. A basal cell carcinoma bump may be small, transparent, and hard. They can develop lesions and open wounds, and eventually turn into permanent scars.
7. Lyme Disease
A small bite from an infected tick may develop into Lyme disease. It’s considered a serious condition if it’s not treated early.
This bite can appear as a hardened bump on the head that may go undetected at the time of the incident. The bump may be accompanied by joint pain, fever, nausea, headaches, and a rash that has a bulls-eye target in the center.
A lump on the head may be caused by a viral, bacterial, or fungal infection condition known as folliculitis. It may appear as a small, red raised bump with a dark spot in center, indicating a hair. Itchiness and a rash also may be present.
Folliculitis may be triggered by friction, wearing tight material on the head, or by closely shaving the hair follicle. It can be passed from person to person by sharing hats, hairbrushes, and combs.
Seborrheic dermatitis may cause bumps on the scalp as a result of an excessive production of sebum oil and yeast. The natural oil of the sebum may irritate the yeast found on the scalp, known as Malassezia.
It may develop as a cluster of bumps on the scalp or as a lump at the base of the skull. It is thought to be a genetic condition.
A rare benign growth on the head may be a pilomatrixoma. This small tumor may be caused by an abundant collection of calcium salts within the skin cells.
A pilomatrixoma can continue to grow in size and appear as a darkened or skin-toned bump.
11. Head Injury
A bump on the head as a result of an injury to the head may present as a large-sized lump. This may or may not indicate bleeding under the skin’s surface. It will, however, produce swelling in the nearby region of where the injury occurred.
Most cases of a head injury bump will resolve on its own in about a week’s time. This bump may require monitoring, especially if accompanied by nausea, vision problems, extreme fatigue, severe headache, or loss of consciousness.
12. Seborrheic Keratosis
Seborrheic keratosis is the most common of benign tumors and often presents as a tiny bump on the scalp with an oily, brownish crust. It is commonly seen in the elderly due to the natural aging process.
Changes in the condition of these bumps or the rapid development of a cluster of these types of bumps may require examination by a medical doctor.
An unsightly and common lump is a wart. Often, these develop on the scalp as an outcome of the human papillomavirus (HPV). This dormant internal virus may be triggered by an injury to the head.
Warts on the scalp may be seen as a lone bump or may appear as a group of tiny bumps.
Treatments for a Bump on the Back of the Head
Bumps on the back of the head treatment may require medical assistance in the form of prescribed or over-the-counter medication, light therapy, cryotherapy, or possibly surgical removal.
Specific medication commonly referred to as “Malathion” and “Lindane” may be needed for bumps on the head. These are often used to treat bumps caused by infections, including cancer drug injections.
2. Light Therapy
Bump treatment may involve the use of light therapy for cases caused by a skin disorder known as psoriasis. The treatment may reduce and alleviate the bump.
This form of treatment uses liquid nitrogen to freeze the bump to prevent further growth while it triggers shrinking or flattening of the bump.
For bumps that have grown to a large size or maybe obstructing the blood flow within the head, surgical removal may be needed. This may include the use of an electrical charge to reduce the bump before scraping or removing it.
Natural Remedies to Cure a Bump on the Back of the Head
1. Apple Cider Vinegar
The astringent properties of apple cider vinegar target abnormal tissue of the skin and may help to tighten the tissue of a bump, thereby shrinking the swelling. As it tends to balance the pH levels in the body, precaution with use on the scalp is needed as it may promote hair loss in the surrounding area of the bump.
- Soak a cotton ball or cotton swab with apple cider vinegar.
- Apply it directly to the bump daily for three days.
Nutmeg contains components to address pain, inflammation, and irritation of the skin tissues. It has been used for centuries as part of traditional medicine for such conditions as bumps and lumps.
- Grind nutmeg into a fine powder.
- Add four tablespoons of milk to form a paste.
- Apply the paste to the bump and allow it to dry.
- Rinse with warm water after one hour.
- Repeat the process daily as needed.
The leaves of the neem tree have been part of traditional medicine for probably just as long as nutmeg. Neem has antibacterial, antimicrobial, and antifungal properties to destroy any harmful pathogens, as well as reduce pain and inflammation.
- Grind neem leaves in a small bowl.
- Add three or four drops of water to create a spreadable paste.
- Gently massage the paste onto the bump and allow it to set.
- Rinse with warm water after a 30-minute treatment.
- Repeat daily as needed.
Henna has antiseptic and antifungal properties to treat infected bumps and conditions such as seborrheic dermatitis. It is crucial to make sure that the henna is properly mixed as it may cause permanent staining of the scalp.
- Combine natural henna powder and water to form a paste.
- Use a cotton swab applicator to apply the paste directly onto the bump.
- Allow the paster to dry for 30 minutes before rinsing it off with warm water.
- Repeat process daily as needed.
5. Lavender Oil
Any inflammation and pain caused by an infection that can trigger a bump to develop on the back of the head may be alleviated by using lavender oil. It has anti-inflammatory, antifungal, antibacterial, antiviral, and antiseptic properties.
- Apply three drops of lavender oil with your fingertips or a cotton swab.
- Gently massage it onto the bump.
- Rinse the oil off with warm water after 30 minutes.
- Reapply daily as needed.
6. Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil has antibacterial components to combat harmful pathogens that may cause lumps on the head.
- Soak a cotton swab or your fingertips with three drops of tea tree oil.
- Apply the oil to bump on your scalp.
- Rinse the oil off with warm water after a 30-minute treatment.
- Repeat daily as needed.
A bump on the head may be eliminated with the use of the garlic’s anti-inflammatory, antifungal, antiviral, and antibacterial agents. It may also help with any accompanying symptoms of pain and inflammation.
- Crush three cloves of garlic in a small bowl.
- Apply the garlic paste onto the lump.
- Rinse the paste off with warm water after 15 to 20 minutes.
- Repeat once every two days as needed.
When to Worry about a Bump on the Back of the Head
Bumps on the back of the head need to be closely monitored for changes, especially if there is more than one or if the lump remains for several days. Transformation of a bump may indicate a malignant condition, and a biopsy of the tissue may be required.
Take note of any of the following changes:
- The bump progresses in size
- Increased pain
- The development of an abrasion or wound within the bump
- The bump begins to bleed
A bump on the back of the head may indicate an underlying health condition or may just be the result of a mild head injury. Lumps may appear small and develop into a larger growth.
Most cases of a bump on the back of the head may be treated using home remedies or natural treatments. These may reduce any pain, as well as the bump itself.
Pain, swelling, irritation, or red skin patches may accompany the bump. A medical team should address more serious signs like nausea, vomiting, loss of consciousness, or bleeding from the bump.
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“Minor Head Injury/Lump On Head,” NHS Choices, September 25, 2015; http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Head-injury-minor/Pages/Introduction.aspx, last accessed September 29, 2017.
Oakley, A., “Seborrhoeic keratosis,” DermNet New Zealand, January 2016; https://www.dermnetnz.org/topics/seborrhoeic-keratoses/, last accessed September 29, 2017.