Finding a lump or mass in your child’s neck can be alarming to any parent. Most of the time, a lump in the neck is a swollen lymph node and not cause for immediate concern.

Lymph nodes on the side of the neck, under the jaw, and behind the ears can swell for a number of reasons. There may be an infection nearby in the throat or ear, or a more general response to a flu or cold. Lymph nodes hold a type of white blood cell called lymphocytes. Lymphocytes fight against bacteria and viruses. When a bacterial infection or virus is present, lymph nodes swell as they activate, sending white blood cells to the area.

Another possible cause of a lump on a child’s neck is a congenital cyst. Many times children born with cysts in front of the ear or on the neck never even notice the cysts and they require no medical attention. Sometimes cysts become infected, though, and that can lead to issues.

A lipoma is a dome-shaped lump that occurs just under the skin often on the neck, torso, armpits, or thighs. Lipomas are soft and rubbery and can be moved easily when pressed gently. They’re non-cancerous and won’t turn into cancer. The main concern is discomfort due to the location of the lipoma or increased size that makes it noticeable.

Rarely, a lump in a child’s neck may be a cancerous tumor. Cancer lumps are hard, immovable, and irregularly shaped. A cancerous lump may be painful or not painful.

If you have concerns about a lump or mass found on your child’s neck, visit your pediatrician or OrlandoENT to talk to a professional.

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