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Sophia asked...

I have a small lump above my eyebrow

I have a small lump above my eyebrow and I'm worried it could be cancer. Am I being silly?

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The answer

The small lump above your eyebrow could be:

  • A skin cyst
  • A sebaceous cyst
  • Folliculitis
  • Lipomas
  • Melanoma
  • Non-melanoma skin cancer.

These are just a few of the possibilities – as we do not have any more information about what it looks and feels like it is impossible to know for certain.

It would be a good idea to go and see your GP as they will be able to look at the lump and assess what it is.

There are a number of conditions that can cause lumps to appear below and on the surface of the skin. Here is an overview of these:

Skin cysts

These can appear anywhere on the body and are little pockets of tissue under the skin that become filled with pus, fluid or skin matter. This could be due to infection or a sebaceous gland becoming blocked. Sebaceous glands are tiny glands near the surface of the skin that release an oil (sebum) that moisturises the skin and hair follicles.

Skin cysts are generally smooth to touch and painless. They develop over a gradual period of time and are generally treated by draining the cyst or using of antibacterial creams or lotions. These are usually not cancerous.

Sebaceous cyst

This is where a cyst develops by a hair follicle. These are often painful to touch and a dark area is visible on the skin’s surface. Treatment often involves antibiotic creams and removal of the cyst to prevent it returning. Discharge from these cysts often appears to be like a cheesy white fluid.

Folliculitis

This is an inflammation of the hair follicles due to infection or chemical reaction. It is quite common on the face. The affected area usually goes red and pimple like. You could get hairs in the centre of the pimple and the skin around it might also be itchy. Treatment usually includes antibiotics, antifungals, maintaining good hygiene and reducing chemical use, for example, make up.

Lipomas

This is where there is a fatty deposit under the skin. These are smooth to touch, harmless and generally do not need treating.

Melanoma

This is a type of skin cancer. The appearance of this is usually the presence of a new mole or an existing mole changing appearance. These are usually irregular in shape, multi coloured, can bleed easily and be itchy.

Non-melanoma skin cancer

This is where there is a lump or area of skin which is sore and doesn’t heal. The lump tends to grow and often becomes scaly or ulcerated, and bleeds easily.

It is important that you visit your GP to get this lump looked at as soon as possible so that the cause of your lump can be investigated and successful treatment given.

Answered by the Health at Hand nurses.

Further Reading

Skin cyst – AXA PPP healthcare

Sun damage: the risks and how to protect yourself – AXA PPP healthcare

Skin cancer causes and risks – AXA PPP healthcare

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