What’s causing this lump under my chin?
Lumps are benign growths on organs or tissues. They may be benign (noncancerous) or malignant (cancerous). Lumps can occur anywhere on the body, but they tend to occur in areas where there is fluid accumulation such as:
under the armpits and neck; between your ribs; around your heart; in your lungs; in your intestines; and sometimes in other parts of the abdomen.
The most common location for lumps is the chest wall. However, some lumps may appear elsewhere on the body, such as:
between your shoulder blades; between your hips and groin area; in your buttock; in your lower back; behind your knees; or even inside of your ears.
Causes of lumps under the chin?
What causes these masses of fat to form? How do they develop? And how do they affect your life?
These questions are all answered in this article.
Lumps under the chin are usually caused by several factors, including:
Obesity – Obesity increases the risk of developing lumps under the chin because it makes it harder for fat cells to move through your arteries and into your lymphatic system, which helps drain excess blood from them. If you have high levels of fatty tissue in these locations, then more fat will accumulate there.
Age – As you get older, your skin’s elasticity decreases. This makes it harder for it to “snap back” into position when there is excess weight, such as fat, pushing down on it. As a result, your skin starts to sag. This sagging skin can form unsightly folds called rhytides.
These folds are most noticeable on the neck and chin, hence the term “wattle.”
Genetics – If your parents are obese, you are more likely to develop fat in the same places. Some people are also more predisposed to developing lumps under the chin because of their bone structure.
Hormonal changes – Women can develop lumps under the chin when they go through menopause and their estrogen levels decrease. Other hormonal changes such as pregnancy, birth control pills, or other medical conditions can cause lumps under the chin.
Smoking – Smoking slows the rate at which your cells turn over. This means that fat, skin, and other types of cells take longer to shed and replace. As a result, the outer layer of your skin (the epidermis) gets thinner and does not move over the underlying layers as quickly. As these layers build up over time, your skin eventually starts to sag, including the area under your chin.
Medications and supplements – Certain prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, and even herbal and dietary supplements can cause lumps under the chin.
What to do if you have one or more lumps under your chin?
If you have one or more lumps under your chin and you are concerned about what they might be, it is a good idea to see your doctor. When examining a lump, your doctor will take a medical history and perform a physical exam. During the medical history, you should be prepared to answer questions about:
Personal or family history of cancer
Use of tobacco, alcohol, or other recreational drugs
The physical exam will include an assessment of the lump(s). Your doctor may perform any number of tests in order to determine if the lump is benign or malignant. These tests might include:
A biopsy of the lump – A small sample of the lump is removed and sent to a lab for analysis. Depending on what type of cells the sample contains, the lab will be able to determine whether or not the lump is cancerous.
An ultrasound – High frequency sound waves are used to create an image of the lump in order to look for signs of cancer.
A computed tomography scan (CT or CAT scan) – A CT scan uses X-rays and computer technology to create detailed images of specific areas of your body, such as lumps.
After the doctor has gathered all the information, they will be able to tell you whether or not they think the lump is cancerous and, if so, what you should do next.
How are lumps under the chin treated?
Most lumps under the chin are caused by harmless cysts. If your doctor determines that the lump is not cancerous, they will develop a treatment plan that is specific to your needs. Treatments for lumps caused by benign cysts include:
Oral medications – Your doctor may prescribe an antibiotic, anti-inflammatory, or hormone therapy.
Steroid injections – When combined with a painkiller, a steroid injection can reduce inflammation and provide quick relief.
Surgical removal – In some cases, the lump can be removed through a small incision. This procedure is most often used for lipomas.
Although most lumps under the chin are caused by harmless cysts and can be treated with simple pain medication and observation, it is important to have any new lumps or changes in a previously diagnosed lump checked out by a doctor. Early diagnosis and treatment of cancerous lumps under the chin increases the likelihood of survival.
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