What are lumps and bumps found near the skin?

Lumps and bumps that form under or on the skin can be cysts or solid lesions. Cysts have a thin lining that holds fluid or other tissues such as sebum. If it has pus, it is called a cystic abscess. The cysts are named depending on what type of tissue cause them to develop. Some cysts are present at birth, while, others develop in childhood. Cysts formed in pediatric patients are benign. Solid lesions do not hold any fluid. Lumps and bumps are usually found incidentally by parents. If the cysts become inflamed, they may cause pain, which prompts patients to seek medical care. These lesions are not usually serious but surgical removal is commonly recommended. Diagnosis can be surmised based on the look and feel of the mass upon palpation. Sometimes tests such as ultrasound can be used to supply structural information.

What are the types of lumps and bumps found in children?

Dermoid cyst

A congenital cyst that forms during fetal development. They are usually found on the head and neck area, such as posterolateral aspect of the scalp, lateral border of the eyebrow or midline along forehead or neck. The cyst may rarely erode through the bone of the skull, so may require an ultrasound, CT (Computerized Tomography) scan or MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) for evaluation. They usually have very thick fluid or skin structures within the cyst.

Epidermoid cyst

Aalso called sebaceous cyst, these cysts usually form after birth. It is typically found on the head, neck, and trunk. It is slow growing and thought to arise from a blocked hair follicle. Careful inspection of the skin overlying the cyst may show a skin pore which leads into the center of the cyst.


A benign solid tumor found under the skin, which form and develop during childhood. It arises from a hair follicle and have calcium deposits. It is usually found on the head, neck, and extremities. They are painless and slow growing.

Ganglion Cyst

A bump that is typically found on top of a joint or tendon. It is found most often on the wrist but may also find it near the knee or feet. The bump may decrease or increase in size over time and may cause pain that is worse with movement. The fluid within the cyst can be aspirated. If it is persistent and causes pain, surgical removal under anesthesia is called for.


Lipoma is a soft rubbery fatty mass that grows slowly and harmless. A variant called lipoblastoma is found in infants, which is also benign but predisposed to recurrence if it is not completely removed. It is typically found on neck, shoulders, and trunk.

Pyogenic Granuloma

A small, red, raised bump that may bleed or ooze body fluid. It is not a cancer. They are found on hands, arms, or head. They usually form after a traumatic injury to the skin. It may resolve without treatment, but excision of the lesion is often needed.

How we care for Lumps and Bumps?

Surgeons in the UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals Division of Pediatric Surgery have the expertise to diagnose and treat lumps and bumps found in children. Our surgeons work with Radiologist and Pathologists to diagnose, treat and confirm the pathology.