Painless thigh lump quiz
Take a quiz to find out what's causing your lump.
Finding a painless thigh lump can be concerning, however most lump on the thigh are caused by non cancerous fatty tissue growth, also known as lipoma, or skin conditions like warts, cysts, or abscess. Swollen lymph nodes may also cause painless lumps on the inner thigh.
8 most common causes
Symptoms of a painless knot on the thigh
A new or persistent lump anywhere on your body can be alarming. The good news is that there are many potential causes for painless thigh lumps, and most of these causes are not serious or difficult to treat. Sometimes, however, a painless thigh lump may require evaluation by a medical professional either for treatment or a diagnosis.
Common characteristics of painless thigh lumps are
Depending on their cause, painless thigh lumps may be:
- Large or small
- Soft or firm
- Single or multiple
- Mobile: This means it moves when you touch or press it.
- Fixed: This means it feels stuck in its location.
Common accompanying symptoms are
Painless thigh lumps can also be associated with:
- Skin that feels hot to the touch in the area of the lump
The length of time that you may experience a painless thigh lump can vary.
- Temporary: Depending on the cause, a thigh lump may last for only a few days before resolving on its own or you may notice it persist for a week or more.
- Persistent: You may notice that a thigh lump that is persistent seems to grow over time as well.
- How to monitor: When monitoring your thigh lump, keep track of its size and color and any associated symptoms.
What causes a painless lump on the thigh?
There are many potential causes for painless thigh lumps. Painless thigh lumps can be a symptom of abnormal growths or a reaction to injury.
Typically, a painless thigh lump is caused by abnormal growth of a variety of different cells that make up your body. These can include:
- Fat cells: These can grow into lumps called lipomas.
- Keratin collections: Thigh lumps can also be caused by a collection of keratin, the main protein in your skin, which can lead to cysts.
- Connective tissue cells: Some cells in your body are responsible for rebuilding tissue after injury. These cells can also abnormally grow or reproduce to form thigh lumps called dermatofibromas.
Thigh lumps may also be caused by damage to your thigh. You may have recently bumped or otherwise injured the area and noticed a swelling form afterward. This swelling is formed by blood or fluid collecting under the skin of your thigh and can be associated with bruising and tenderness.
Skin infections or those within the body due to bacteria, viruses or fungi can cause a painless thigh lump, though more often than not, infections usually cause painful thigh lumps.
- Viral skin infections: Viruses can cause painless thigh lumps in the form of skin-colored warts.
- Fungal skin infections: Fungi can cause a variety of painless skin infections, including ringworm, which causes an itchy, red, circular rash that may have an associated lump.
- Bacterial skin infections: Your skin is covered in hair follicles, tiny sacs from which each strand of hair grows. Sometimes a hair follicle can become infected by bacteria which leads to something called folliculitis. An open cut, if exposed, can also become infected leading to something called cellulitis, an infection of the skin and area under the skin. A skin infection that isn’t cleared up can lead to an abscess, which is a pocket of pus that forms as your body tries to fight the infection. These bacterial infections usually cause painful thigh lumps, but early on in the infectious process, they may be painless.
- Lymph node enlargement: Lymph nodes are small glands where the cells that fight infections live. In reacting to infection caused by bacteria, fungi or viruses in and around the area, lymph nodes can grow in size and appear as single or multiple lumps under your skin.
This list does not constitute medical advice and may not accurately represent what you have.
Cancer of fat cells
Liposarcoma is a type of cancer characterized by tumors growing in fatty tissues. This cancer can occur in any part of the body, but most often involves the thigh or the belly (abdomen).
Rarity: Ultra rare
Top Symptoms: fatigue, unintentional weight loss, abdominal bump, hard palpable mass, painless abdominal lump
Symptoms that always occur with cancer of fat cells: lump below the skin on the chest
Urgency: Primary care doctor
Warts, also called common warts or verrucae, are small, rough, rounded growths on the top layer of the skin. They may appear singly or in clusters.
Common warts are caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV) and are contagious through direct contact, especially through a break in the skin. They may spread from one place on the body to another simply through touch.
Anyone can get warts but they are most common in anyone with a weakened immune system, as from illness or chemotherapy. Children and teenagers are also susceptible to warts.
Warts often first appear on the hands and fingers, especially near the nails or after any injury to the skin. This is why biting fingernails is a risk factor for warts.
Warts are benign, meaning they are not cancerous. But they can be unsightly and interfere with normal use of the hands, so treatment is often beneficial.
Diagnosis is made through physical examination. Warts in children sometimes go away without treatment, but otherwise most warts can be easily removed in a doctor's office.
A cyst is a small sac or lump, filled with fluid, air, fat, or other material, that begins to grow somewhere in the body for no apparent reason. A skin cyst is one that forms just beneath the skin.
It's believed that skin cysts form around trapped keratin cells – the cells that form the relatively tough outer layer of the skin.
These cysts are not contagious.
Anyone can get a skin cyst, but they are most common in those who are over age 18, have acne, or have injured the skin.
Symptoms include the appearance of a small, rounded lump under the skin. Cysts are normally painless unless infected, when they will be reddened and sore and contain pus.
Diagnosis is made through physical examination. A small cyst can be left alone, though if it is unsightly or large enough to interfere with movement it can be removed in a simple procedure done in a doctor's office. An infected cyst must be treated so that the infection does not spread.
Top Symptoms: skin-colored armpit bump, marble sized armpit lump, small armpit lump
Symptoms that always occur with skin cyst: skin-colored armpit bump
Urgency: Wait and watch
Pimples are also called comedones, spots, blemishes, or "zits." Medically, they are small skin eruptions filled with oil, dead skin cells, and bacteria.
Pimples often first start appearing at puberty, when hormones increase the production of oil in the skin and sometimes clog the pores.
Most susceptible are teenagers from about ages 13 to 17.
Symptoms include blocked pores that may appear flat and black on the surface, because the oil darkens when exposed to the air; blocked pores that appear white on the surface because they have closed over with dead skin cells; or swollen, yellow-white, pus-filled blisters surrounded by reddened skin.
Outbreaks of pimples on the skin can interfere with quality of life, making the person self-conscious about their appearance and causing pain and discomfort in the skin. A medical provider can help to manage the condition, sometimes through referral to a dermatologist.
Diagnosis is made through physical examination.
Treatment involves improving diet; keeping the skin, hair, washcloths, and towels very clean; and using over-the-counter acne remedies.
Melanoma is the most serious type of skin cancer. Often the first sign of melanoma is a change in the size, shape, color, or feel of a mole. Most s have a black or black-blue area. Melanoma may also appear as a new mole. It may be black, abnormal, or "ugly looking."
You should visit your primary care physician. Surgery is the first treatment of all stages of melanoma. Other treatments include chemotherapy and radiation, biologic, and targeted therapies. Biologic therapy boosts your body's own ability to fight cancer. Targeted therapy uses substances that attack cancer cells without harming normal cells.
Lipoma is a word that translates as "fatty tumor," but a lipoma is not cancer. It is simply a growth of fat between the muscle layer and the skin above it.
The exact cause is not known. The condition does run in families and is associated with other unusual syndromes such as adiposis dolorosa, which is similar. Lipomas most often appear after age 40.
Symptoms include a soft, easily moveable lump beneath the skin, about two inches across. A lipoma is painless unless its growth is irritating the nerves around it. They are most often found on the back, neck, and abdomen, and sometimes the arms and upper legs.
It is a good idea to have any new or unusual growth checked by a medical provider, just to make certain it is benign.
Diagnosis is made through physical examination, biopsy, and imaging such as ultrasound or CT scan.
Most of the time, treatment is not necessary unless the lipoma is unsightly or is interfering with other structures. It can be removed through surgery or liposuction.
Top Symptoms: skin-colored groin bump, marble sized groin lump, small groin lump
Symptoms that always occur with lipoma: skin-colored groin bump
Urgency: Wait and watch
The connective tissue found at the ends of bones of the arm or legs can change significantly with aging. Some of these changes can become a serious health risk.
You should see your primary care doctor in the next few days to have your symptoms evaluated. It is likely that your physician will want to perform imaging (x-ray or MRI).
Enlarged lymph nodes in the groin
Enlarged lymph nodes occur when the node becomes larger as it fills with inflammatory cells. This often is a result of an infection but can occur without a known cause.
You should discuss with a health care provider whether or not your lymph node needs to be checked. Enlarged lymph nodes will usually shrink on their own. To speed up the process, try applying a warm, wet compress to the affected area.
Top Symptoms: groin lump, movable groin lump
Symptoms that always occur with enlarged lymph nodes in the groin: groin lump
Symptoms that never occur with enlarged lymph nodes in the groin: fever, unintentional weight loss, hard groin lump
Urgency: Phone call or in-person visit
A dermatofibroma is a fairly common skin growth that usually appears on the lower legs, but may appear anywhere on the body. These mole-like growths are benign (noncancerous.)
The cause is not known, though a dermatofibroma may appear after a minor injury. The growths are not contagious.
Dermatofibromas are most common in adults and are rarely found in children.
Symptoms include a hard, raised growth that is red, pink, or brown and less than half an inch across. They are usually painless but may be tender or itchy, and may appear alone or in groups.
Any new growth on the skin should be seen by a medical provider, especially if the growth is very dark in color or changes its shape or appearance quickly.
Diagnosis is made through physical examination and sometimes biopsy.
A dermatofibroma does not require treatment unless it is interfering with clothing or is unsightly. They can be surgically removed, though this will leave a scar and the growth may eventually return.
When and how to treat a painless knot on the thigh
There are certain at-home remedies you can try to alleviate symptoms of painless thigh lumps.
- Infection: If your thigh lump is due to an infectious cause, warm and cold compresses and over-the-counter painkillers can prevent them from getting worse or from becoming painful.
- Abnormal growth: If your thigh lump is due to abnormal cell growth you should have it evaluated by a medical provider. He or she can recommend any further workup of the thigh lump if needed.
When to see a doctor
While some painless thigh lumps resolve without treatment or can be treated with at-home remedies, some require evaluation by a medical professional in the coming days, especially if you notice any of the following:
- Redness that is worsening or spreading around the lump
- Change in shape, size, or color of a thigh lump over time
Medical tests and treatments
The following are medical treatments or diagnostic tests your medical provider may recommend:
- Ultrasound, X-ray, CT Scan or MRI: These are all various methods to gather images of the affected body part before moving on to more invasive tests, if indicated.
- Blood tests: Your medical provider may recommend getting blood tests which may reveal whether your thigh lump is due to an infection or if abnormal growths are causing lymph node enlargement.
- Surgery: If the thigh lump is caused by an abnormal growth of cells (tumor), a physician may recommend surgery to remove the lump to assess what kind of cells are causing the growth and whether the growth is cancerous or not. Sometimes this surgery happens after a biopsy, during which a small sample of the lump is cut out and a pathologist looks at the sample under a microscope to determine whether the abnormal cells are cancerous or at risk of becoming cancerous.
- Incision and drainage: If your thigh lump is caused by an infection that has led to a collection of pus under your skin, a medical professional may need to cut a small hole (incision) in the skin overlying the lump in order to drain the pus collection.
- Antibiotics or antifungals: You may also be prescribed an antibiotic or antifungal in pill or cream/ointment form in order to fight the infection if the thigh lump is due to a bacterial or fungal cause.
When it is an emergency
You should seek immediate medical attention if your painless thigh lump is associated with any of the following symptoms or factors:
- Severe, sudden, or worsening pain and/or swelling
- Nausea and/or vomiting
FAQs about painless thigh lump
Why is my thigh lump becoming painful?
The pain you’re feeling depends on the cause of the thigh lump. Thigh lumps caused by infection may be painful because the body’s immune response is reacting to the infection, and one of the symptoms of this reaction is pain to alert you that something is wrong. If your thigh lump is due to trauma, the pain you’re feeling is most likely the aftermath of the damage to the area in and around the lump. If your pain doesn’t get any better or gets worse, seek the attention of a medical provider.
Will my thigh lump go away on its own?
It depends. If your thigh lump is due to abnormal cell growth, it might stay the same, grow, or shrink. If it is caused by infection, it might go away on its own as your body fights the infection or might go away with some over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication NSAIDs like ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin). If the infection has caused a collection of pus (an abscess) to form, it might go away, but typically this requires draining by a medical professional. Any lump that persists or grows over time should be seen by a medical provider.
Why is my thigh lump growing?
Your thigh lump may be growing due to fluid or blood collecting in and around the area of the lump. If your thigh lump is due to trauma, you can often get swelling around the injured area, but this swelling should decrease over time. A thigh lump due to infection may grow as pus collects in the lump under the skin or as lymph nodes enlarge in reaction to the infection. A thigh lump can also grow if abnormal cells or protein (like keratin) are building up. These cells can either be cancerous or non-cancerous. A thigh lump that is growing rapidly in size, persistently grows, or is associated with a change in color or shape should be medically evaluated.
Is my thigh lump a sign of cancer?
Rarely, a painless thigh lump may be a sign of cancer. Thigh lumps due to cancer are usually in the area of the groin and represent swelling of the lymph nodes which can occur as a reaction to cancer or due to cancer within the lymph nodes themselves. If your painless thigh lump is associated with fevers, chills, night sweats or unexplained weight loss, it may be due to cancer and you should be evaluated by a medical provider.
Is my painless thigh lump serious?
A small thigh lump that resolves on its own is typically not serious. A large thigh lump that is associated with redness or that does not seem to be resolving should be seen by a medical professional, especially if you also have a fever. Thigh lumps that are growing and feel fixed may be serious and/or a sign of cancer and should be evaluated by a medical professional.
Questions your doctor may ask about painless thigh lump
- What color is the bump?
- Do you have a rash?
- Any fever today or during the last week?
- Are you experiencing a headache?
Self-diagnose with our free Buoy Assistant if you answer yes on any of these questions.
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- Cysts. American Osteopathic College of Dermatology. AOCD Link
- Dermatofibroma. Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center. Updated March 19, 2017 GARD Link
- Ringworm. American Academy of Dermatology. AAD Link
- Folliculitis and carbuncles. Massachusetts General Hospital. Mass General Hospital Link
- Cellulitis. U.S. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus. Updated June 6, 2018. MedlinePlus Link
- Abscess. U.S. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus. Updated June 6, 2018. MedlinePlus Link