Skin Lumps and Bumps in Children: When Should a Parent Worry?
Discovering skin lumps and bumps on a child can feel quite scary, especially for first-time parents. It’s easy to assume the worst-case-scenario, but the good news is most skin lumps in children are benign (not harmful). Despite that, it is worth taking these seriously because there are cases where the lumps grow into a tumor. Some children are born with skin lumps, while others acquire it later in life.
The vast majority of children with skin lumps won’t experience severe symptoms, but can sometimes be accompanied with redness, pain, and bleeding. If you’re worried about skin lumps and bumps about your child, this article will help you know when to seek medical attention about the condition.
Most common types of skin lumps and bumps
Lymph nodes are the most common skin bumps present in children. Most parents discover this around their child’s neck, but can also be spotted at the back of the head and around the ears. Small lymph nodes the size of a pea are nothing to be worried about while the ones that keep growing are a cause for concern. If the lymph node is over a centimeter in diameter, consider having your child evaluated by a healthcare professional.
Dermoid cysts are another common lump in children. It usually appears at the end of the eyebrow, but can also be spotted in the upper chest and midline of the neck. These cysts don’t pose an immediate threat to your child’s health, but are generally removed to reduce the risk of infection. A dermoid cyst located on the scalp should be invested further by a pediatric surgeon.
Pilomatrixoma is a slow-growing skin tumour of the hair follicle. It’s benign in nature and can grow anywhere on the child’s neck, arms, and face. It is harmful and painless until it gets infected. A pediatric surgeon will cut the lump and if needed, cover the area with skin from another part of the child’s body.
Hemangiomas are caused by an abnormal buildup of blood vessels that can happen within one to three weeks after birth. These lumps may grow in size during the first year and will usually go away on their own. Surgery is often not required unless they affect the child’s breathing and vision. Lymphangiomas are a congenital condition that occurs in the head, mouth, and neck.
Thyroglossal cysts are the primary cause of midline neck masses and typically appear below the hyoid bone, but can also be spotted anywhere along the path of the thyroid gland.
Branchial cysts are a type of birth defect that appears on the child’s neck. While it doesn’t pose a serious hazard to your child’s health, branchial cysts carry a risk of infection. To prevent this, the surgeon will perform surgery on the child on an outpatient basis under general anesthesia.
When to seek medical attention
It is extremely rare for children to develop malignant tumours, but there’s still a slight possibility that parents should not ignore. Most skin lumps and bumps are benign, however these bumps must be carefully evaluated to see if malignant tumours can occur. If you are increasingly worried about the skin lumps on your child, it’s wise to seek medical attention as soon as possible.
An experienced paediatric surgeon will be able to make an accurate diagnosis and recommend the right treatment for your child’s condition. Scans may be required to further assess the skin lumps and determine if surgery is required. A surgical procedure is usually done to eliminate the risk of infection and prevent complications from occurring.
During the procedure, your child will be under a general anaesthesia to numb the pain. Usually, most skin lump surgeries are completed in under an hour and the child can go home the day of the operation. The surgeon will then provide prescription medicine to manage the pain. Keep in mind that not all skin lumps and bumps require treatment and some can be left alone without having to worry about it threatening your child’s health.
Don’t hesitate to ask a pediatric surgeon about skin lumps and bumps to get a better understanding of your child’s condition.