What Causes Bumps on the Head and How to Treat Them

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When there is a bump on your head, it can affect you in many ways. Some bumps can be on the bone, under the skin, or on the skin. The diagnosis and treatment depend on the type and severity of the bump.

Learn more about what causes bumps on the head and how to treat them.

bump on the head

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When to See a Doctor

There are many reasons for having a bump on the head, and some situations are more serious than others. See a doctor if the bump is:

  • Bleeding
  • Painful
  • Not improving

They will give you a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.

Causes

There are various causes for bumps on the head, which are outlined below.

Head Trauma

When an individual has a head injury, it is considered trauma to the head. This can range from a minor bump to a serious injury.

The injuries include:

  • Concussion
  • Skull fracture
  • Wound to the scalp or head

The causes of head trauma include:

  • An injury
  • A medical condition
  • A fall
  • An accident
  • Head bump

When head trauma occurs, it could cause bleeding and bruising internally, showing no external symptoms. A bump or bruise may also occur in plain view.

If there is any type of bump or injury on the head, it is important to see a healthcare provider to ensure that the head is healthy. Although the head may feel and look fine, there could be internal swelling and bleeding.

Ingrown Hair

Ingrown hairs are very common.

Ingrown hairs can occur when a person removes the hair by:

  • Waxing
  • Shaving
  • Tweezing

When ingrown hair occurs, it can cause:

  • Irritation
  • Itching
  • Pain in the area

Other symptoms include small bumps on the face and neck with hairs in the middle. Sometimes these bumps have pus in them.

To prevent ingrown hairs when shaving, use warm water, shaving cream, or gel. It is helpful to use a single-blade razor and change the blade as it dulls. Another option is to use laser or chemical hair removal techniques.

Check with a healthcare provider for any questions concerning proper hair removal techniques and options.

Cysts

Cysts can develop in different areas of the body and organs, including the head.

A cyst is a closed sac, and the size and location depend on the type. Types of cysts include:

  • Pilar cysts: Also called trichilemmal cysts, these are primarily on the scalp.
  • Milia cysts: These are small lesions that are typically firm. They are known to be more common in newborns and infants and will go away on their own within months.
  • Epidermal cysts: These are commonly located on the neck, face, back, scalp, and ears. This cyst has a look similar to cheese. They also appear when the hair follicle is clogged. This can be due to acne or an injury.

Tumors

There are a variety of tumors, and certain tumors cause bumps on the head.

Tumors can be:

  • Benign
  • Cancerous
  • Skull-based

Depending on the growth of the tumor or type, it may not cause an external bump right away. The following are general symptoms of brain tumors:

  • Headaches
  • Vision change
  • Memory loss
  • Changes in personality
  • Tingling on one side of the body
  • Stiffness on one side of the body
  • Loss of balance
  • Seizures 
  • Difficulty thinking and/or speaking

Seborrheic Keratosis

Seborrheic keratosis is a skin growth that typically looks like a wart.

The condition typically starts as small, rough bumps, and develops into a warty surface. The growths can form on the scalp, neck, and face.

This growth is common with individuals who are older or middle-aged.

Seborrheic keratosis is known to be genetic and due to excessive sun exposure. The growths are not contagious, although they can multiply and spread to other parts of the body.

Dermatitis

Dermatitis is a skin condition that means “inflammation of the skin."

This condition is caused by:

  • Genetics
  • Infections
  • Allergies
  • An overactive immune system

Dermatitis is not contagious.

When a person has this skin condition, some of the first signs are itchiness and redness. Other symptoms include dry skin, fluid-filled blisters, and painful ulcers.

Treatment options include:

  • Wet wraps
  • Moisturizers
  • Reducing stress levels

Other treatments include medicated moisturizers or oral medication. Speak to a healthcare provider regarding prescribed treatment options.

Bone Spur

A bone spur is a bony and smooth lump that grows off the bone. They are known to develop near
the joints where two bones meet. This condition is also called an osteophyte.

People more than 60 years old are the common population that experiences bone spurs. They can appear anywhere on the body, including the back of the head and neck. Some people have bone spurs without realizing it.

The biggest cause of a bone spur is joint damage due to osteoarthritis (OA). This can happen due to injury or natural aging.

When the spurs put pressure on nerves that are close, it will restrict movement due to pain and rub against the tissues or bones. People may experience:

Treatment options include:

  • Icing the area
  • Pain relievers
  • Weight loss

If these do not work, physical therapy, prescription pain medication, or surgery could be an option.

A person can reduce their chance of developing bone spurs by eating a healthy diet, exercising, practicing good posture, and maintaining a healthy weight to reduce stress on the joints.

Diagnosis

When there is a head bump or a type of injury, a healthcare provider will run different tests for a diagnosis. The healthcare provider will typically start with a reviewing medical history, a physical exam, and running diagnostic tests.

Some of the tests will possibly include the following:

Treatment

Depending on the condition and seriousness, treatments vary.

If the bumps are due to a skin condition, in general, treatments can range from an over-the-counter ointment to a prescribed medicine. Depending on the severity, a medical procedure is also an option.

If the bump is due to a head or bone injury—depending on the type of injury and severity—a medical professional can make the best determination regarding treatments.

If the bump is caused by a tumor—which can range in size and diagnosis—it is best to contact a healthcare provider to get an adequate diagnosis and treatment plan.

Prognosis

Since there are different causes for bumps on the head, the prognosis can vary.

Frequently Asked Questions

When should you worry about a bump on the head?

It depends on the type and severity of the bump on the head. If you experience any of the below symptoms, see a healthcare provider:

  • Memory loss
  • Confusion
  • Headache
  • Pain
  • Vomiting
  • Mood changes

How long is it safe to sleep after getting a bump on the head?

If an individual has a bump due to a concussion, it is beneficial for the person to have eight hours of sleep to get the proper rest.

A Word From Verywell

If you have a bump on the head or scalp, and you have concerns, don’t hesitate to call a healthcare provider.

In addition, if you bump your head or have an injury, go to a healthcare provider to make sure your head is not injured internally.

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8 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. MedlinePlus. Head injury. Updated September 23, 2019.

  2. Cleveland Clinic. Ingrown hair. Updated February 28, 2021.

  3. American Osteopathic College of Dermatology (AOCD). Cysts.

  4. American Academy of Dermatology Association. Seborrheic keratosis: overview.

  5. Cleveland Clinic. Dermatitis. Updated October 29, 2020.

  6. Cleveland Clinic. Bone spurs (osteophytes). Updated November 16, 2020.

  7. John Hopkins Medicine. Head injury.

  8. Cleveland Clinic. Is it safe to sleep after a concussion? Updated July 29, 2021.