Why Does the Lump on My Head Hurt When I Press it?

Woman winces as she presses the lump on her head.
  • There are various causes of painful head lumps. Some are serious conditions that require immediate medical attention, while others can resolve within a few days.

  • There are several simple treatments available to reduce localized swelling if you have accidentally bumped your head.

  • You should seek medical help if you experience any symptoms of a severe head or brain injury, such as memory loss, slurred speech, or seizures.

What Causes Painful Lumps on the Head?

If you have bumps on your head that are sore when pressed or touched, it could be a sign that you need immediate medical attention.

However, not all bumps on your head indicate serious medical conditions. Recognizing which symptoms indicate conditions that require medical attention can help you get a treatment best suitable for your head lumps.

Serious Causes of Head Lumps

These are the more severe reasons why you could have a lump on your head that hurts when you press it.

A scalp injury

Head injuries can occur after a fall, a blow to the head, or even bumping your head on a hard surface.

The symptoms of an injury can vary depending on the severity of the head trauma.

If you have any of the following symptoms from the events mentioned above, you likely have a mild head injury:

  • Severe headache
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Confusion or memory loss
  • Disrupted sleep
  • Blurred or double vision
  • Ringing in the ears

You have a severe head injury if you experience any of these symptoms:

  • Becoming unconscious
  • Seizures
  • Headaches and vomiting that won’t stop
  • Difficulty speaking or slurred speech
  • Loss of coordination and balance
  • Neck pain and stiffness
  • Visual disturbances, like dilated pupils or blurred vision

A brain injury

Some people may develop a bump on their head after a brain injury.

These injuries can be either temporary or permanent and result in slight impairments or serious disabilities.

Brain injuries can be caused by:

  • A stroke
  • Brain tumors
  • Infections such as meningitis
  • Oxygen deprivation
  • Neurological disorders like Parkinson's disease

Other bumps can occur from a traumatic brain injury (TBI), which is when the head experiences a sudden jolt or blow. TBI can result from a car accident, sports injuries, or violence, and cause severe pain.

Injuries to the brain require medical treatment, which may include prescription medications or even surgery.

If you suspect that your brain has been injured, you should consult a medical professional right away.

Less Serious Causes of Head Lumps

These are some causes of painful head bumps that aren’t severe and don’t necessarily require medical attention.

An ingrown hair

Ingrown hairs can cause head bumps that are painful when you press on them. An ingrown hair occurs when a hair follicle on your head becomes trapped beneath the skin’s surface.

As your hair grows, it can often try to curl around the skin or re-enter it. This can result in an infection in your hair follicles.

If a hair follicle becomes infected, it can cause a painful pus-filled bump on your head. These can also look and feel similar to pimple-like bumps.

Image of an ingrown hair causing a bump from below the surface of the skin.

How can I treat infected hair follicles from ingrown hair?

Depending on the severity of the infection, treatments for an ingrown hair on your head include:

  • Gentle exfoliation
  • Warm compresses
  • Topical creams
  • Steroid injections

Epidermoid cysts

Also known as sebaceous cysts, an epidermoid cyst is a noncancerous lump that can develop under the skin on the head. They can sometimes be hereditary.

An epidermoid cyst contains a protein called keratin and will usually grow slowly under the skin.

Usually, these cysts aren’t painful. If they do feel sore, this could indicate infection and you’ll need medical advice and treatment.

Pilar cysts

A pilar cyst, also called a trichilemmal cyst, develops in the hair follicles on the head. They can cause one or many bumps that can be painful.

What are the symptoms of pilar cysts?

Aside from pain, other symptoms of this type of cyst include:

  • Redness on the scalp
  • Swelling
  • Tenderness to touch

Treatment for this condition typically includes surgical removal of the cyst, especially if they are undesirable for cosmetic reasons.

Less Common Causes of Head Bumps

We’ve listed some of the main causes of most bumps above, but here are some other causes of head lumps:

  • Scalp hematoma: A blood collection that forms between the scalp and the skull.

  • Basal cell carcinoma: A type of skin cancer that develops in the deepest layer of the skin, typically affecting sun-exposed areas of the body.

  • Head and neck cancers: Cancers and abnormal cells that develop in the tissues and organs in the neck and head.

  • An insect bite: If bitten on the scalp, insect bites cause small bumps on the head that can resolve within a few weeks.

Man pressing bump on the back of his neck.

When to See a Doctor for a Bump on the Head

If you severely injure your head, you should see a doctor immediately. Certain injuries to the head or brain can be life-threatening and, in rare cases, even lead to death.

A doctor may send you for a CT scan to check for brain damage before they make a diagnosis.

Where Can I Seek Medical Attention for Head Bumps?

If you are concerned about painful bumps on your head, schedule a telehealth consultation with one of our board-certified doctors or nurses.

Head over to LifeMD to make your telehealth appointment today.

LifeMD makes it easy to stay on top of your health because talking to a doctor, filling your prescriptions, getting your labs done—and more—are all easy and cost-effective. Come discover a healthcare solution built around you and your life.

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This article is intended for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice. Consult a healthcare professional or call a doctor in the case of a medical emergency.

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