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Black or Brown Scalp Bump

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Last updated March 19, 2021

Black or brown scalp bump quiz

Take a quiz to find out what's causing your bump.

Understand your black or brown scalp bump symptoms, including 5 causes and common questions.

5 causes of black or brown scalp bumps

This list does not constitute medical advice and may not accurately represent what you have.

Wart

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.

Solar (actinic) keratosis

Actinic keratosis, also known as solar keratosis, is the most common skin condition caused by sun damage over many years. It appears as small, rough, raised growths that may be hard and warty.

You should visit your primary care physician to have the affected skin evaluated. There are several treatments for actinic keratosis, including freezing the keratosis with liquid nitrogen, or applying a cream or gel. Some keratoses will disappear on their own within a year.

Rarity: Common

Top Symptoms: unchanged face redness, rough skin on the face, thickened skin with a well-defined border

Urgency: Primary care doctor

Skin cyst

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.

Rarity: Common

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

Mole on the scalp

Moles are growths on the skin. They happen when pigment cells in the skin, called melanocytes, grow in clusters.

If you have many moles that you are worried about, you can go see your primary care doctor to follow the moles. However, treatment is only considered if a new mole develops or changes.

Rarity: Uncommon

Top Symptoms: unchanged scalp bump, black or brown scalp bump, small scalp lump, uniformly black/brown scalp bump, scalp bump's smooth border

Symptoms that always occur with mole on the scalp: unchanged scalp bump, black or brown scalp bump

Symptoms that never occur with mole on the scalp: headache

Urgency: Wait and watch

Atypical mole

Moles are growths on the skin. They happen when pigment cells in the skin, called melanocytes, grow in clusters. Certain moles are considered "atypical" because of their size and characteristics, which require careful watching and possibly even biopsy in order to monitor for development into cancer. Atypical moles, also called dysplastic nevi deserve more attention than normal moles.

You should go see your primary care doctor to examine the mole. He or she can determine if next steps are necessary.

Rarity: Uncommon

Top Symptoms: severe abdominal lump, brown-colored skin changes, moderate abdominal lump, atypical abdominal bump features, growing abdominal bump

Symptoms that always occur with atypical mole: black or brown abdominal bump, atypical abdominal bump features

Urgency: Primary care doctor

Questions your doctor may ask about black or brown scalp bump

  • Are you experiencing a headache?
  • Any fever today or during the last week?
  • Is the bump a single shade of black/brown or a mix?
  • Is the border of the bump round or are there jagged edges?

Self-diagnose with our free Buoy Assistant if you answer yes on any of these questions.

Black or brown scalp bump symptom checker statistics

People who have experienced black or brown scalp bump have also experienced:

  • 16% Scalp Itchiness
  • 15% Scalp Bump
  • 11% Headache

People who have experienced black or brown scalp bump were most often matched with:

  • 75% Atypical Mole
  • 25% Wart

People who have experienced black or brown scalp bump had symptoms persist for:

  • 43% Over a month
  • 27% Less than a week
  • 13% Less than a day

Source: Aggregated and anonymized results from Buoy Assistant.

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