Bump on back of head.
November 19, 2021 1:20 PM   Subscribe

I just noticed a bump on the back of my head. What could it be?

It is about 3 inches from the back of my ear towards the middle of the back of my head, about 1 inch from the middle of the back of my head, and alsmost the same height as the top of my ear. It feels like swelling, perhaps 1 inch diameter, no pain or discomfort whatsoever. It isn't exactly soft but not hard like a bone either. It's late here, a bit worried. Thanks.
posted by melamakarona to Health & Fitness (16 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Possibly a swollen lymph node?
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 1:24 PM on November 19 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: Thank you that seems likely -- the occipital lymph node seems to be in the right place.
posted by melamakarona at 1:40 PM on November 19 [1 favorite]

Possibly a cyst. Head cysts are normally pilar cysts. A dermatologist or a walk in clinic can check it.
posted by Crystalinne at 1:40 PM on November 19 [6 favorites]

Cyst. Dr. Pimpplepopper dealt with plenty of them on her YT channel and Instagram.
posted by kschang at 1:55 PM on November 19

Also possibly a lipoma, which would not be worrisome.
posted by ejs at 2:35 PM on November 19 [1 favorite]

I've got one lymph node behind my ear, I guess it's one of the retroauricular nodes, that bloots up at the slightest provocation. Kind of like a small, un-pitted olive. It's been scaring me into thinking I'm working on a brain tumor my whole life but has never really been a problem. If it goes away pretty soon that's almost certainly what this is. If it doesn't go down or it starts to hurt, then it might be a cyst. But no pain? My money's on a node.
posted by phunniemee at 3:09 PM on November 19 [1 favorite]

A friend in grad school speculated that my head bump might be budding, as in asexual reproduction, but I was happy it was just a lymph node because I was really unprepared for a family.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 3:17 PM on November 19 [20 favorites]

I've had a small lump on my head for the last 25 years or so. It's maybe 1/3 of an inch wide. When I first noticed it I had a friend who was a neurologist at Mass General, he checked it out, did a couple of tests- I don't remember what they were-, and pronounced it nothing to worry about. I can't even remember what he called it. It hasn't grown or changed in any way and I mostly forget I have it until a question like this pops up. I hope yours is as inconsequential as mine.
posted by mareli at 6:24 PM on November 19 [1 favorite]

Is it possible you've always had it? the 'occipital bun' is hereditary.
posted by duende at 6:55 PM on November 19

Response by poster: Thanks everyone, this is helpful. I feel much more relieved knowing that there are all these relatively unproblematic options.
posted by melamakarona at 3:32 AM on November 20

Have you tried popping it? Scalps can get zits too.
posted by Jacqueline at 12:18 PM on November 20

I had/have a lump with just the same attributes in just the same position, and my doc said it was a "sebaceous cyst". I was alarmed when I first noticed it! But it's completely harmless. It's odd that ours are in the same place as they often occur anywhere on the scalp, neck, shoulders area. It's filled with "keratin debris" (trapped skin cells?) and will sometimes drain a little after a hot bath or if I scratch it absent-mindedly. Mine disappears for years at a time and then reappears for a few months or so.
posted by distorte at 1:21 PM on November 20

Response by poster: Just to add: I can push on it without any pain, it is sort of wide (aout an inch) and not that high, I can't really tell, maybe 1/4 inch. And it's just on the one side (so I don't think it is the occipital bun, also because i haven't noticed in the last 25 years of adulthood). And it feels a bit too deep under the skin to be a zit or something I could easily pop or drain. It seems most probable to me, from following up on the suggestions above, that it is a swollen lymph node or lipoma. Does that sound reasonable?
posted by melamakarona at 1:25 PM on November 20

For what it is worth, both my mother and I have had these kind of cysts just as described, and they have only proven to be benign annoyances. I would have it looked at, but, in the meantime, not fear it.
posted by WCityMike2 at 6:32 PM on November 20

I’ve had a big cyst on the back of my neck for over ten years and my hair whisperer always makes sure my hair hides it.

A long time ago I had a procedure where they essentially “popped the zit” and it was one of the most painful experiences I’ve ever had. And it came back full-force within the next few months.

As long as it’s not painful and you’ve determined that it’s not a tumor you can try the popping thing but it may not persist. I’m not sure what else you can do.
posted by bendy at 11:29 PM on November 21

A cyst must have the cyst sack removed or it will grow back. Learned that from watching Dr. Sandra Lee aka Doctor Pimplepopper.
posted by kschang at 5:13 PM on November 22

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