Ask the expert

Sophia

Could the lump above my eyebrow be cancer?

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

18 March 2021

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. Without more information about what it looks and feels like it’s impossible to know for certain what’s going on. To put your mind at rest it would be a good idea to go and see your GP. They’ll be able to look at the lump, assess what it is and ensure you get the appropriate treatment if required.

In the meantime, here is an overview of some of the more common conditions that can cause lumps to appear on or below and on the surface of the skin:

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 gradually over a period of time and are generally treated by draining the cyst or using 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 from 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 the name given to the presence of 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. They can be identified as a new mole appearing 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.

Remember that most lumps and bumps are harmless but it’s important to visit your GP to get this lump looked at as soon as possible, so the cause can be investigated and treatment given if appropriate.

Answered by the Health at Hand team. 

Sources and further reading

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