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Most swollen glands or lumps under the skin
are not cause for concern. The glands (lymph nodes) on
either side of the neck, under the jaw, or behind the ears commonly swell when
you have a cold or sore throat.
More serious infections may cause
the glands to enlarge and become very firm and tender. Glands can also swell
and become tender after an injury, such as a cut or bite, or when a tumor or
infection occurs in the mouth, head, or neck.
Swollen glands and other
lumps under the skin can be caused by many different things, including illness,
infection, or another cause.
Swollen glands commonly develop when the
body fights infections from colds, insect bites, or small cuts. More serious
infections may cause the glands to enlarge and become firm, hard, or tender.
Examples of such infections include:
Types of noncancerous
(benign) growths, which are usually harmless, include:
aneurysms are bulging sections in a muscle or blood
vessel. A nodule is usually a growth on a gland. A hernia, aneurysm, or nodule may be felt under the skin but may not be visible. These types of lumps may need more medical evaluation.
A lump caused by cancer is
usually hard, irregularly shaped, and firmly fixed under the skin or deep in
tissue. Although they usually do not cause pain, some types of cancerous lumps
are painful. Most lumps are not caused by cancer.
Swelling may also be caused by:
Check your symptoms to decide if and when
you should see a doctor.
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The following home treatment
measures may help you treat a painful lump or swollen gland.
Call your doctor if any of the following occur during home
Wash your hands frequently during cold
and cough season. This may help prevent some upper respiratory infections that
cause glands to swell.
To prepare for your appointment, see the topic Making the Most of Your Appointment.
You can help your
doctor diagnose and treat your condition by being prepared to
answer the following questions:
December 27, 2012
William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine & H. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.
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