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Nodules: Lumps and Bumps in the Skin

Nodules are lumps felt in or under the skin, and may be benign or malignant. It is important to know that the precise diagnosis of a nodule cannot usually be made with 100% certainty until the lesion is removed and examined under the microscope. This does not mean that every nodule will require surgical removal, but Dr. Sadoff recommends that you have all nodules evaluated as a baseline examination. Common and benign examples nodules include:


Lipomas are soft and moveable, and consist of benign fat cells. The tendency to form lipomas may be genetic in some individuals. Lipomas are usually completely without symptoms, though some variants are painful. They may grow slowly over time, and are usually easily removed surgically in the office.

Epidermoid Inclusion Cyst

Epidermoid Cysts, often referred to as sebaceous cysts are very common and may occur almost anywhere on the body. There is usually a small dimple in the center, and may release a foul-smelling white substance. Squeezing these lesions is NOT recommended, as more of the substance may release into the deeper skin layers, and infection may result. These may be simply a nuisance, or may develop an associated abscess (infection) with pain, warmth and redness. Should this develop, Dr. Sadoff will recommend drainage of the infection with a brief in-office procedure.


A dermatofibroma is a common nodule, usually about 1/4 inch and without tenderness. Dermatofibromas form as a result of a minor injury, such as a nick shaving or an insect bit, and the tissue heals with a small nodule.

Prurigo nodularis

In cases of prolonged or intense itching or picking, nodules will form in the skin, often with a scab/crust over the top. These can be treated individually, while the cause of itching is addressed.

Less commonly, nodules may represent abnormal, or malignant growths.

Any changing nodule, especially one that becomes larger, harder, tender or less moveable, deserves prompt evaluation.