Skin cysts

What Causes Fatty Lumps Under Skin

Max. D Gray
By Max. D Gray. Updated: January 16, 2017
What Causes Fatty Lumps Under Skin

Sometimes small, round fatty lumps may appear under our skin. It is normal to be concerned with large fatty lumps, but generally these so-called sebaceous cysts are an inflammation of the hair follicles, i.e. the small sacs in which cells and other oily substances are formed. If you commonly suffer from this condition, continue reading this article: we explain some of the causes of the appearance of fatty lumps. Get detailed information on the cause of fatty lumps under skin and feel free to go to your doctor if you think you might have one.

You may also be interested in: How to Remove Fatty Lumps


  1. What is a fatty lump
  2. Cause of fatty lumps
  3. Diagnosis and treatment of fatty lumps

What is a fatty lump

Fatty lumps, also known as cysts or sebaceous cysts (medically speaking) usually occur due to a nasty inflammation of hair follicles, i.e., those pores of the skin where hair normally grows. The follicle is a dynamic and active skin structure, where the sebaceous glands are located. That is where the production of oily sebum which leads to hair construction takes place.

It may be that the follicle swells and creates a sort of little pouch where the secreted sebum accumulates in excess. That´s when the accumulation becomes visible on the surface of the skin. The result is a lump of fat. Usually it appears in areas prone to hair growth, such as the face, neck, arms or legs areas.

Cause of fatty lumps

As discussed above, a fatty lump generally occurs due to hair follicle inflammation, which generates a sack in which the secretion of proteins, such as keratin, occurs. When transportation of dead cells is blocked and there is an accumulation of excessive fat in the area, a sebaceous cyst appears.

The cyst develops slowly and it is usually painless. It is easy to identify it, as you'll notice a small bump under your skin. Symptoms may appear if the lump becomes inflamed or infected, which results in your skin reddening, pain, itching or a discharge of yellow or white pus.

Sebaceous cysts can be confused with lymphomas or benign tumors because they are similar in appearance but their evolution and their characteristics are different. There are also other lumps that can appear on the skin, such as swollen glands (common in the armpits or neck); aggressive boils (infection of the hair follicle); or abscesses (when pus and fatty oils accumulate and cannot be excreted).

You see, there is no specific cause for the appearance of a fatty lumps, beyond skin lesions or cyst formations. However, if you can feel any of them on your skin, either with or without pain, it is recommended that you head to your doctor to get a specific diagnosis and guidelines on treating the sebaceous cysts.

What Causes Fatty Lumps Under Skin - Cause of fatty lumps

Diagnosis and treatment of fatty lumps

If you have spotted a fatty lump on your skin, you should go to a medical professional to undergo the tests and examinations necessary to make a diagnosis. During this process, the doctor may perform a biopsy to analyse the tissue and rule out other serious conditions. If your symptoms include serious pain and the doctor detects a possible infection, a skin culture may also be taken.

Once it has been determined that the lump is a sebaceous cyst, the appropriate treatment will be administered accordingly. While those cysts are not dangerous, they can be annoying and unsightly. It is common to treat the fatty lump with heat to help burst the cyst and drain it of all fat so that it does not present any further complications. In the event that the fatty lump is inflamed, you may take drugs prescribed by the doctor: antibiotics or inject steroids directly into the cyst. It can even be removed by a quick and simple surgery to completely get rid of the fatty lump.

It is important to always seek medical advice when you notice fatty lumps under skin, because although they are usually not dangerous, it is important to rule out the possibility of a skin cancer.

What Causes Fatty Lumps Under Skin - Diagnosis and treatment of fatty lumps

This article is merely informative, oneHOWTO does not have the authority to prescribe any medical treatments or create a diagnosis. We invite you to visit your doctor if you have any type of condition or pain.

If you want to read similar articles to What Causes Fatty Lumps Under Skin, we recommend you visit our Diseases & secondary effects category.

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What Causes Fatty Lumps Under Skin