The skin at the hairline on the back of the neck is exposed to many things that can irritate it. As a result, lumps, bumps and other skin problems are relatively common here.
A lump can be alarming, especially if it is not visible. However, many different conditions can cause a swollen lump on the back of the neck, including acne and irritation. One reason sometimes leads to another. For example, a boil on the back of the neck can cause swollen lymph nodes.
Some of the most common causes of a lump in the neck include:
Swollen lymph nodes
Lymph nodes are the body’s drainage system. They help the immune system rid itself of bacteria, viruses, and dead cells. Lymph nodes can sometimes become swollen, especially if the body is fighting an infection.
Several lymph nodes run along the back of the neck on both sides of the spine. There are also lymph nodes behind each ear. A soft lump about the size of a marble that moves slightly when touched may be a swollen lymph node.
Sometimes the lymph nodes become swollen when there is an infection nearby. Swollen neck lymph nodes can be a sign of an ear infection or an infected cyst. Lymph nodes can swell for no apparent reason. As the swelling subsides, there is no reason to worry.
Although it’s rare, swollen lymph nodes can sometimes be a sign of a more serious health condition, such as cancer. If the swelling does not go away after a few weeks, people should see a doctor.
Learn how to treat lymph nodes.
Acne, including blackheads, blackheads, and deep cystic acne, can cause lumps and bumps on the back of the neck.
Acne occurs when sweat, bacteria, and oil clog pores. Hormonal changes during adolescence often cause acne, but it can appear at any age.
The neck is a common area for acne. Hair care products, sweat, and clothing can irritate the back of the neck and cause acne.
Many over-the-counter (OTC) treatments can help you change shampoos, keep your neck clean and dry, and remove hair from your neck.
If the acne is severe, very painful, or doesn’t respond to home treatments, your dermatologist may prescribe a stronger medication.
Learn how to treat acne.
Sebaceous cysts are nodules under the skin that contain keratin protein. These cysts can be very large. Most are painless, but when infected, they resemble a large pimple. Cysts may appear or become constantly enlarged.
Some cysts appear on the head or ooze when a person squeezes. However, the formation of a cyst does not cure it, which can lead to infection. In most cases, the doctor can use a simple procedure to remove the cyst in the office.
If the cyst becomes painful and red, it is a sign of infection, so it is important to see a doctor. Warm compresses and OTC pain relievers can also help.
Learn how to treat sebaceous cysts.