Hard, Small, Painful Lumps Under Skin All Over the Body: Causes and Symptoms

Malignant tumors are only responsible for about 15-20% of all body lumps. Such lumps are mostly reported in organs such as the breasts, lungs, colon and prostate. Other than malignant tumors, body lumps can be caused by infections, diseases, benign tumors and injuries. Cases such as cholesterol lumps on eyes or a rectocele lump between vagina and rectum are quite unique and require more detailed guides.

It is very important that you be certain as to what is responsible for a lump anywhere in your body. The only way you can achieve this is by getting a medical diagnosis. This article contains general information on possible causes and symptoms of body lumps. It should not be used for diagnosis confirmation.

Common causes of lumps anywhere in your body

Acne and folliculitis

Acne is the most common type of body lumps. Irritated or infected acne is painful and appear as red bumps on the skin. Inflamed acne is known as folliculitis.


These are round or oval, soft, rubbery and movable noncancerous growths that develop on fatty tissues. They are quite harmless and don’t require treatment.


Sebaceous cysts are perhaps the most common type of cysts. They originate in hair follicles or oil glands. Cysts usually form round, firm, fluid-filled, painless lumps under the skin. Some are hard while others can be soft and even a bit movable. It is, for example, not rare to develop a cystic hard lump under jaw bone or on the joints.

Skin tags and warts

Skin tags are fleshy growths attached to the skin by a thin stalk. Most are caused by friction such as between the buttocks. Warts are also fleshy but tend to have a cauliflower resemblance. They are caused by HPV.

Boils and abscesses

Boils and abscesses form painful, warm, tender lumps filled with pus.

Lumps in breasts causes

Benign tumors

A number of benign tumors can develop in or on the breasts. They include:

  • Fat necrosis – a lump that develops in fatty breast tissue after injury
  • Abscess – pus-filled lump usually caused by mastitis
  • Breast cysts – smooth, fluid-filled sacs that form under the skin
  • Lipomas – soft and slippery growths under the skin
  • Adenomas – growths that originate in glandular breast tissue
  • Intraductal papillomas – wart-like growths that often develop under the nipple

Malignant tumors

Malignant tumors in the breasts are often but not always hard, fixed and painless lumps. Over 50% are reported in the upper quadrant of the breast tissue that extends to the armpits. Signs of breast cancer include:

  • Nipple retraction
  • Dimpling of breast skin
  • Nipple discharge
  • Color changes especially in the nipple
  • Loss of symmetry between the breasts

Lumps in other parts of the body


Hernias are common in the lower abdomen near the groin. Most hernias tend to disappear when lying down and enlarge when lifting heavy weights or laughing.

Swollen lymph nodes

Common locations in which you will find a lump due to swollen lymph nodes include the groin, armpits, under chin, either side of the neck, behind the ears and on the back of the head.


Hematomas are common in the legs and arms. They result from blood accumulation under the skin after injury.

Signs and symptoms of cancer lumps

Cancer rarely causes any symptoms in the initial stages. In fact, a cancer lump can take up to 5 years before it can even be noticeable. When symptoms occur, they may include:

  • Hard, irregular, painless and fixed lump that gradually increases in size
  • Chronic cough, loss or breath and pain in chest
  • Changing bowel habits such as bloody stool, chronic bloating, diarrhea, pain in abdomen
  • Bloody discharge when coughing, between periods, in urine, in stool or vomit
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Anemia
  • Fever
  • General tiredness
  • Swelling of lymph nodes in more than one location
  • Evolving moles (multi-colored, changing size or shape, bleeding, irregular)

When to see a doctor for a lump in body

Discovering a lump in your body may be a first step to a long journey ahead. The first thing you should do is find out its cause. Online information can be quite resourceful. Unfortunately, you should never make major decisions such as choosing to ignore treatment based on online information. Always insist on getting a medical diagnosis. If the lump has shown signs of malignancy, insist on a biopsy.

See your doctor if:

  • The lump contains pus
  • You experience pain, warmth, and tenderness
  • The lump keeps getting bigger and feels fixed
  • You discover multiple lumps
  • You have a recurring lump after treatment
  • The lump is located in the breasts, testicles or abdomen
  • You develop a lump immediately after injury in the head
  • Other symptoms of infection or diseases such as fever, chills, general weakness, swelling and so on occur

Prostate cancer, lung cancer, breast cancer and colorectal cancer are responsible for most cancer related deaths today.

Consider learning more on these cancers, their causes, symptoms, treatment and prevention. Topics such as where is a testicular cancer lump located and how to check for breast lumps are a good place to start.

Signs that a lump in your body is harmless

No one can guarantee for sure that a lump is harmless unless more details are provided or a diagnosis is performed. However, most harmless lumps have the following characteristics:

  • Movable when touched or pressed
  • Soft
  • Occurs close to the top skin layer
  • Improves or disappears in less than 2 weeks
  • Tends to improve with rest