Read below about upper leg bump, including causes, treatment options and remedies. Or get a personalized analysis of your upper leg bump 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.

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Upper Leg Bump Symptoms

Bumps on the upper leg can vary in size from small to large, and vary in quantity as well. You may experience a single bump or multiple bumps on your upper leg.

Characteristics

In addition, your bump may be associated with symptoms such as:

Bumps on the upper leg can also be difficult because they may be easily irritated by clothing or different positions. Although an upper leg bump is usually not life-threatening, it is important to follow-up with a healthcare professional in order to get appropriate treatment.

Upper Leg Bump Causes

Many of the causes of upper leg bumps have a dermatologic component and affect aspects of the skin and hair follicles. The skin is the largest organ of the body and has three layers known as:

  • Epidermis: This is the outermost layer of the skin visible to the eye. It contains specialized cells responsible for pigmentation of the skin (melanocytes), protecting the skin (Langerhans cells) and allowing the skin to feel pressure (Merkel cells).
  • Dermis: This is the middle layer of the skin. It contains a network of tough but elastic collagen fibers that make the skin strong but also stretchy and a network of nerves and blood vessels that allow passage of nutrients and oxygen. The dermis also contains sweat glands.
  • Subcutaneous layer: This is the deepest layer of skin which contains fat and connective tissue. It acts as a shock absorber and insulator and produces hormones like vitamin D when the skin is exposed to sunlight.

See this image here for a visual representation of the layers of the skin.

Many of the causes of upper leg bumps affect these skin layers and can be categorized into the following groups:

Follicular

In addition to lesions forming in the different layers of the skin, the hair follicles are also a nidus, or site of origin, for the development of bumps in the upper legs and other parts of the body.

  • Inherited: There can be inherited conditions that cause abnormal formation of the follicles resulting in multiple, small lesions that can look like a rash. This is a condition known as keratosis pilaris [1,4].
  • Acquired: There can also be acquired conditions or situations that cause irritation or occlusion to the follicles, causing them to become inflamed and form painful bumps on the skin.

Inflammatory

Inflammatory causes of upper leg bumps include the following.

  • Infectious: The skin is colonized by a bacterium known as Staphylococcus aureus. Although it is a normal component of the skin, it is the leading cause of human bacterial infection and can result in bumps and lumps throughout the body, including the upper leg. Staphylococcus aureus can enter the skin via small lesions or cuts and result in painful abscesses filled with pus.
  • Cysts: Cysts are sacs that can be filled with fluid, air or other material. They can form in any part of the body. Cysts that form in the epidermis of the skin often present as skin-colored nodules — see an image here.

Cancerous

In general, any growth is the result of cells dividing and growing uncontrollably. Cells in any part of the body — fat, blood vessels, soft tissue, etc. — can grow in this abnormal fashion. These abnormal cells can accumulate to form a noticeable lump or bump in the body part affected. These growths (also known as tumors or neoplasms) can be benign (non-threatening) or malignant (life-threatening) [2].

  • Vascular: Growths that result from the vasculature and blood vessels of the body are called angiomas or pyogenic granulomas. They are often red and dome-shaped and can bleed copiously with trauma.

  • Fat/soft tissue: Growths of the fat and soft tissue of the skin are known as lipomas and often present as soft, round or oval painless nodules. They most commonly occur on the back and upper extremities but can appear in other locations including the upper leg.

Traumatic

Trauma to the upper leg area from minor events such as bumping into a table or falling, to serious events such as a motor vehicle accident, can result in bumps on the upper leg. These bumps can be the result of bruising or signal a more serious underlying condition such as a fracture.

10 Possible Conditions

The list below shows results from the use of our quiz by Buoy users who experienced upper leg bump. This list does not constitute medical advice and may not accurately represent what you have.

  1. 1.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 groin bump, marble sized groin lump, small groin lump
    Symptoms that always occur with lipoma:
    skin-colored groin bump
    Urgency:
    Wait and watch
  2. 2.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 armpit bump, marble sized armpit lump, small armpit lump
    Symptoms that always occur with skin cyst:
    skin-colored armpit bump
    Urgency:
    Wait and watch
  3. 3.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"), which is dangerous and requires treatment.

    Good prognosis with treatment

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    rash with bumps or blisters, red rash, red skin bump larger than 1/2 cm in diameter, pus-filled rash, rash
    Symptoms that always occur with skin abscess:
    rash with bumps or blisters
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  4. 4.Dermatofibroma

    Dermatofibroma (superficial benign fibrous histiocytoma) is a common cutaneous nodule of unknown etiology that occurs more often in women. Dermatofibroma frequently develops on the extremities (mostly the lower legs) and is usually asymptomatic, although pruritus and tenderness can be present

    Resolves with treatment

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    small facial lump, pink or red facial bump, face itch, skin-colored facial bump, painful facial bump
    Urgency:
    Wait and watch
  5. 5.Boil (Furuncle)

    Boils are infections of a hair follicle that creates a small pocket of inflammation full of pus. It's typically caused by a common bacteria called S. Aureus.

    5-10 days

    Rarity:
    Uncommon
    Top Symptoms:
    pink or red facial bump, small facial lump, painful facial bump, marble sized facial lump, constant skin changes
    Symptoms that always occur with boil (furuncle):
    pink or red facial bump
    Symptoms that never occur with boil (furuncle):
    fever
    Urgency:
    Self-treatment

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  6. 6.Basal Cell Carcinoma

    Basal cell carcinoma is a slow-growing form of skin cancer. Skin cancer falls into two major groups: Non-melanoma and melanoma. Basal cell carcinoma is a type of non-melanoma skin cancer.

    Indefinite

    Rarity:
    Uncommon
    Top Symptoms:
    facial skin changes, pink or red facial bump, small facial lump, painless facial bump, growing facial lump
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  7. 7.Folliculitis

    Folliculitis is a common skin problem where hair follicles are infected by bacteria or fungi.

    Mild cases clear in a few days. More severe ones can cause hair loss and scarring.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    small facial lump, pink or red facial bump, face itch, facial bump leaking yellow/milky fluid, yellow or white facial bump
    Symptoms that always occur with folliculitis:
    small facial lump
    Urgency:
    Self-treatment
  8. 8.Pimple

    Acne, also known as pimples, occurs when hair follicles become clogged with oil & dead skin cells. Acne is extremely common and ranges from mild to severe.

    The severity of the acne dictates treatment-type and duration. With proper treatment, acne should resolve in weeks to months. In some cases, acne is a long-term condition.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    pink or red facial bump, small facial lump, painful facial bump, marble sized facial lump
    Symptoms that always occur with pimple:
    pink or red facial bump
    Urgency:
    Self-treatment
  9. 9.Melanoma

    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 melanomas have a black or black-blue area. Melanoma may also appear as a new mole. It may be black, abnormal, or "ugly looking."

    Indefinite

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    brown-colored skin changes, atypical features of a facial bump, black-colored skin changes, growing facial lump, large facial lump
    Symptoms that always occur with melanoma:
    atypical features of a facial bump
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  10. 10.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.

    May go away on its own within a year. Use sunscreen to prevent these if you spend a lot of time outside.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    unchanged face redness, rough skin on the face, thickened skin with a well-defined border
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor

Upper Leg Bump Treatments, Relief and Prevention

The causes of upper leg bumps are varied and treatment is dependent on the specific cause. Many of the treatments are surgical in nature and involve physical removal of the bump. Treatments for bumps are usually only performed if they are causing medical or physical symptoms or are causing you distress; however, removal simply for cosmetic reasons is acceptable as well. Surgical options include:

  • Cryosurgery: The application of extreme cold to destroy and remove diseased tissue.
  • Electrodesiccation: The use of an electric current to remove skin lesions.
  • Shave excision: The use of a sharp razor with or without an electrode to feather the edges of a lesion to make it smaller or less noticeable.
  • Scissors: At times the solution is to simply cut off the lesion/bump with surgical scissors.

If the upper leg bump is associated with an infection, your physician will prescribe appropriate antibiotics to treat the condition and prevent complications. If your upper leg bump and associated symptoms are due to malignant cancer, your physician will discuss treatment options including surgery, radiation or chemotherapy.

In the meantime, supportive measures such as resting and leg elevation combined with icing and warm, compression bandages may also help alleviate swelling and discomfort. If your upper leg bump lessens or goes away with these supportive measures, your condition is most likely not life-threatening.

FAQs About Upper Leg Bump

Here are some frequently asked questions about upper leg bump.

How do you treat keratosis pilaris?

Keratosis pilaris is a common skin condition that looks like small, tiny red bumps on the front of the thighs [1,4]. This condition is a result of poor development (keratinization) of the follicles in the skin [3]; the goals of treatment are to alleviate symptoms such as dryness and itching rather than clearing the bumps away altogether. Your physician will suggest simple remedies such as a moisturizer to help with dryness or exfoliation to remove dead skin cells.

Will the bump in my upper leg go away on its own?

Depending on the cause, there is a possibility that the bump and the accompanying pain will go away on its own. If the upper leg bump is a cyst or caused by trauma, the likelihood that it will go away on its own is high. However, if the upper leg bump is a benign or malignant tumor, it will not resolve on its own and will require follow-up.

Will the bump spread from one leg to the other?

If the bump is red or multiple appear on one leg, this is most likely an inflammatory etiology.Some inflammatory conditions, such as erythema nodosum, can result in multiple bumps on the upper leg and other parts of the lower extremity that can be red and fairly tender. Erythema nodosum is a type of panniculitis, a group of inflammatory diseases that affect the fatty tissue under the skin and result in skin nodules. These bumps may spread and affect the other leg in the first few weeks; however, they can be easily treated and often resolve on their own.

Is the bump chronic or temporary?

A bump on the upper leg may be temporary or chronic depending on the cause. A chronic upper leg bump is more associated with benign or malignant growths whereas temporary lumps are more associated with traumatic or inflammatory causes [4].

How will the upper leg bump affect my daily activities?

An upper leg bump can be very painful and uncomfortable. After a traumatic event, bed rest and limited activity on the affected leg can help with recovery, but after full recovery, your leg function should not be significantly affected. An upper leg bump associated with a benign or malignant growth may cause fatigue or unexplained weight loss, which may affect your energy to complete tasks. See your physician promptly if you feel like your symptoms are significantly affecting your life.

Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Upper Leg Bump

  • Q.What color is the bump?
  • Q.Do you have a rash?
  • Q.Do you feel pain when you touch the bump?
  • Q.Any fever today or during the last week?

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

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Upper Leg Bump Symptom Checker Statistics

  • People who have experienced upper leg bump have also experienced:

    • 8% Upper Leg Pain
    • 7% Thigh Pain
    • 3% Fatigue
  • People who have experienced upper leg bump had symptoms persist for:

    • 38% Over a Month
    • 27% Less Than a Week
    • 15% Less Than a Day
  • People who have experienced upper leg bump were most often matched with:

    • 100% Skin Abscess
  • Source: Aggregated and anonymized results from visits to the Buoy AI health assistant (check it out by clicking on “Take Quiz”).

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References

  1. Landis MN. Keratosis pilaris. UpToDate. Updated Nov. 9, 2017. UpToDate Link
  2. Goldstein BG, Goldstein AO. Overview of benign lesions of the skin. UpToDate. Updated July 26, 2017. UpToDate Link
  3. Shetty S, Gokul S. Keratinization and its disorders. Oman Med J. 2012;27(5):348-57. NCBI Link
  4. Keratosis pilaris. American Academy of Dermatology. AAD Link