Read below about neck lump, including causes, treatment options and remedies. Or get a personalized analysis of your neck lump from our A.I. health assistant. At Buoy, we build tools that help you know what’s wrong right now and how to get the right care.

A.I. Health Assistant

Take a quiz to find out why you’re having neck lump

Take a quiz

Neck Lump Symptoms

When many of us think of neck issues, pain and discomfort are the first things that pop into mind. Neck lumps, however, may not be painful, but certainly warrant attention once noticed. "Lump" is an all-too-common medical term these days. The connotation of the word is almost always negative and frequently associated with cancer. While the presence of a neck lump is not an immediate cause for panic, understanding and monitoring the symptoms will help dictate the path forward.

Symptoms of neck lumps include:

One of the most important tasks performed by the neck is linking the head to the rest of the body through muscles and vessels. In addition, the neck houses critical components for breathing, speaking and eating. The glands, nodes, and muscles can all develop a lump, and while the lump itself might be noticeable, the underlying cause may not be as clear.

Neck Lump Causes Overview

Cancer always comes to mind when lumps are discussed. The good news is that, most commonly, a neck lump in an adult is not caused by cancer. That is not to say that the importance of a neck lump should ever be overlooked. A wide range of causes exist, and many require treatment to ensure proper healing.

Systemic disease causes:

  • Tumors: Whether cancerous or not, growths in the neck result in neck lumps. The majority of neck lumps are not cancerous and are caused by conditions such as tonsillitis or are cysts or benign lipomas.
  • Nodules: Nodules are another form of abnormal growth, typically on the thyroid gland. The thyroid is located just below the Adam's apple and can show lumps from nodules or cancer.
  • Viruses: Cold viruses affect the upper respiratory system, including components of the neck. Lymph nodes can swell as they fight the virus (lymphadenopathy).

Inflammatory causes:

  • Infections: Bacterial or viral infections can result in inflammation and neck lump symptoms. Glands (lymph nodes), such as the salivary glands, commonly produce such lumps when infected. Infections may develop from instances as minor as an insect bite or small cut.

Environmental causes:

  • Allergies: An allergic reaction occurs when the body overcompensates to defend itself from what it believes to be a harmful substance. Swelling of the lymph nodes, which results in neck lump symptoms, is a potential side effect of an allergic reaction.

10 Potential Neck Lump Causes

Disclaimer: The article does not replace an evaluation by a physician. Information on this page is provided as an information resource only, and is not to be used or relied on for any diagnostic or treatment purposes.

  1. 1.Skin Cyst

    An epidermoid cyst is a closed sac under the skin filled with a cheese-like or oily material. It is caused by trauma or surgery.

    Resolves with treatment

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    skin-colored neck bump, marble-size neck lump, small neck lump
    Symptoms that always occur with skin cyst:
    skin-colored neck bump
    Urgency:
    Wait and watch
  2. 2.Lipoma

    A lipoma is a noncancerous growth of fatty tissue cells. A lipoma can develop in almost any organ of the body although they are most commonly found in the subcutaneous layer just below the skin.

    Resolves with treatment

    Rarity:
    Uncommon
    Top Symptoms:
    skin-colored neck bump, marble-size neck lump, small neck lump
    Symptoms that always occur with lipoma:
    skin-colored neck bump
    Urgency:
    Wait and watch
  3. 3.Wart

    Warts are non-serious skin growths caused by a virus that infects the top layer of the skin. They are contagious. Thus, warts on the face are often spread there by the hands, and vice versa.

    78% go away in 2 years

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    skin-colored neck bump, painless neck lump, small neck lump, scaly neck bump
    Urgency:
    Self-treatment
  4. 4.Strep Throat Requiring Throat Swab

    Strep throat is a bacterial throat infection that can make the throat feel sore and scratchy. Only a small portion of sore throats are the result of strep throat. And, if you do not show enough signs of a true strep throat, testing may be needed before treatment is begun.

    1-3 days with treatment

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, nausea, sore throat, fever, rash
    Symptoms that always occur with strep throat requiring throat swab:
    sore throat
    Symptoms that never occur with strep throat requiring throat swab:
    general weakness
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  5. 5.Mononucleosis Infection

    EBV Mononucleosis is a clinical syndrome characterized by fever, sore throat, and swollen lymph nodes.

    2-3 weeks

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, headache, loss of appetite, abdominal pain (stomach ache), cough
    Symptoms that never occur with mononucleosis infection:
    rectal bleeding
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor

    Neck Lump Checker

    Take a quiz to find out why you’re having neck lump.

    Take a quiz
  6. 6.Skin Abscess

    A skin abscess is an infection of the deeper skin that's typically due to bacteria seen on the skin. Recently, infections are more frequently caused by Staph. Aureus (puts the "staph" in "staph infections").

    Good prognosis with treatment

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    painful neck lump, marble-size neck lump, large neck lump, pink or red neck bump, yellow or white neck bump
    Symptoms that never occur with skin abscess:
    fever
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  7. 7.Viral Throat Infection

    Viral pharyngitis is an inflammation of the pharynx, the part of the throat between the nasal cavity and mouth, which causes throat pain.

    Symptoms generally resolve within 3-4 days

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    sore throat, cough, congestion, fever, hoarse voice
    Symptoms that always occur with viral throat infection:
    sore throat
    Symptoms that never occur with viral throat infection:
    being severely ill
    Urgency:
    Self-treatment
  8. 8.Influenza

    Influenza, or Flu, is an infection of the airway caused by the flu virus, which passes through the air and enters the body through the nose or mouth. The symptoms are similar to those of a cold, but the flu is usually more serious.

    Most recover within 1 week but cough and malaise can persist for 2 weeks.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, headache, loss of appetite, cough, muscle aches
    Symptoms that never occur with influenza:
    headache resulting from a head injury
    Urgency:
    Phone call or in-person visit
  9. 9.Sarcoidosis

    Sarcoidosis is an inflammatory disease that most often affects the lungs and skin, but can als affect the joints.

    This condition has a broad range of severity. It often goes away on its own over time but some cases can cause permanent damage.

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, headache, shortness of breath, loss of appetite, joint pain
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  10. 10.Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (Copd)

    COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) is a chronic condition of the lungs and the airways in the lungs. Damage has occured due to long-term exposure to substances that irritate and damage the lungs, such as cigarette smoke or air pollution. This damage can cause symptoms like shortness of breath, decreased exercise tolerance and cough. A common cold or other types of infection can cause symptoms to worden acutely, this is called an exacerbation.

    Often a lifelong condition

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, cough and dyspnea related to smoking, cough, shortness of breath, trouble sleeping
    Symptoms that always occur with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (copd):
    cough and dyspnea related to smoking
    Symptoms that never occur with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (copd):
    rectal bleeding
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor

Neck Lump Treatments and Relief

To reiterate, neck lumps are usually not cancerous. That being said, a neck lump should always be taken seriously. A call to your doctor is always recommended when a neck lump is discovered.

In particular, it is important to set up an appointment with a medical professional for any of the following:

  • Abnormal swelling/lumps
  • Painful lumps
  • Existing lumps that change in shape, size, or feel

Your doctor will recommend the best course of action to treat a neck lump. After a thorough examination, the proper course may involve monitoring of the lump or more extensive diagnostic testing and treatment. Common treatments for neck lump symptoms are as follows:

Professional treatments:

  • Surgery: If the neck lump is potentially harmful, it will likely require removal through surgical procedures.
  • Medications: Antibiotics could be prescribed by your doctor to treat infection and reduce the swelling. Medications may also be prescribed to limit the symptoms of severe forms of allergies.
  • Cancer Treatments: If the neck lump is cancerous, your team of medical professionals may recommend treatments such as radioactive iodine, external beam-radiation, or targeted treatments specially designed to treat certain forms of cancer. A biopsy of the neck lump will likely precede such treatments.
  • Observation: Some form of preliminary testing will likely be performed to determine the importance of a neck lump. If these tests are negative, then your doctor may recommend recurring visits to monitor the neck lump for changes.

Neck lumps signal a change in physiology and warrant attention. When gauging concern over a new neck lump be sure to consider your overall health. An ongoing illness, like a cold, or a recent troublesome wound that won't heal properly could be the cause of the neck lump symptoms. It may be unlikely that the lump signals cancer, but it is possible. Always consult your doctor to ensure proper treatment and peace of mind.

Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Neck Lump

  • Q.Any fever today or during the last week?
  • Q.What color is the bump?
  • Q.Have you been feeling more tired than usual, lethargic or fatigued despite sleeping a normal amount?
  • Q.Are you experiencing a headache?

If you've answered yes to one or more of these questions, try our neck lump symptom checker to find out more.

Take a quiz

Neck Lump Symptom Checker Statistics

  • People who have experienced neck lump have also experienced:

    • 6% Neck Pain on One Side
    • 3% Headache
    • 3% Fatigue
  • People who have experienced neck lump had symptoms persist for:

    • 33% Less Than a Week
    • 31% Over a Month
    • 16% Less Than a Day
  • People who have experienced neck lump were most often matched with:

    • 29% Skin Cyst
    • 17% Lipoma
    • 13% Wart
  • Source: Aggregated and anonymized results from visits to the Buoy AI health assistant (check it out by clicking on “Take Quiz”).

A.I. Health Assistant

Take a quiz to find out why you’re having neck lump

Take a quiz