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Posted by on Mar 31, 2013 in Uncategorized | 4 comments

Subcutaneous Nodules: Causes, Signs, Symptoms and Treatment

A subcutaneous nodule refers to a firm lump under a person’s skin. Subcutaneous nodules are lumps under the skin, often caused due to an infection or inflammation.

The lump under the skin may be firmly attached to it or freely moveable if you press your finger over it. The lump can be tender, soft, firm or painful. A subcutaneous nodule can also cause skin changes, such as colour changesSubcutaneous Nodules of the overlying skin on the lump.

This post on subcutaneous nodules and associated signs, symptoms, causes and treatment is for learning purposes only. If you wish to learn to recognize and manage issues related to infections, subcutaneous nodules and fever’s enrol in workplace approved first aid and CPR classes.


Causes of subcutaneous nodules include:

  • Contusion
  • Erythema nodosum
  • Skin foreign body
  • Ganglion cyst
  • Hernia
  • Lipoma
  • Rheumatoid nodules
  • Swelling of the lymph gland
  • Skin abscess
  • Skin cancer
  • Subcutaneous cyst

Signs and symptoms

Signs and symptoms of subcutaneous nodules include:

  • Soft lump under the person’s skin
  • Firm lump under the person’s skin
  • Freely moveable lump under the person’s skin
  • Tender lump under the person’s skin
  • Painful lump under the person’s skin
  • Changes in color of the overlying skin on the lump
  • Numbness of the skin over the lump
  • Redness of the skin over the lump

Tests and diagnosis

A person will be diagnosed with subcutaneous nodules by first conducting a physical examination.

A person may have a subcutaneous nodule if physical examination shows the following:

  • Firm lump under the person’s skin
  • Soft lump under the person’s skin
  • Tender lump under the person’s skin
  • Lump is attached to the skin
  • Lump is moveable under the skin

Tests to evaluate subcutaneous nodule include:

  • Complete blood count
  • Biopsy of the lump under the skin
  • Ultrasound of the lump under the skin


Treatment for lump under the skin depends on the cause of the lump. Subcutaneous nodules may sometimes go away without treatment. Subcutaneous nodules may occur as a result of an infection or inflammation caused by an underlying condition. Treatment options prescribed by the doctor may include antibiotics and corticosteroid medications. Surgery may be required for severe cases.

Treatment for subcutaneous nodule includes:

  • Antibiotic for lump under the skin – for bacterial infection
  • Corticosteroid medication – for inflammatory conditions. Injections may reduce the lump size
  • Surgery to remove the lump under the skin

Home care

Follow these home care steps to resolve symptoms of subcutaneous nodules:

  • Take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen or naproxen for pain
  • Take acetaminophen for pain
  • Avoid causing injury to the subcutaneous nodule

Warning signs

See our doctor if any of the following problems occur along with subcutaneous nodules:

  • Worsening swelling of the skin overlying the nodule
  • Worsening pain in the lump
  • Worsening tenderness of the lump
  • Red streaks in the skin overlying the lump
  • Worsening pain and skin redness of the skin overlying the lump – cellulitis of the arm, hand,  and the  foot

Learn More

To learn more about  subcutaneous nodules, fever’s and infections sign up for workplace approved first aid and CPR training.

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  1. I have had a hard knot at the bottom of my left rib cage for several years now. I have been to doctor after doctor. It is very sore to the touch, and sometimes feels as if it is swelling around it pushing the rib cage out, causing moderate to severe pain. I am now under the care of a Rheumatologist, have been diagnosed with connective tissue disorder. Due to blood work results. I have the livido reticularis. And just recently had vein surgery, due to pelvic variscosities. They have me on prednisone, and methotrexate. Seems to help somewhat. but they are still not concerned with the painful knot in my side, that only get’s worse with activity. Several doctors have dismissed it as being calcium buildup. But why does it cause me so much pain???

    • Perhaps it causes pain because it is pressing against some nerve. (I read that explanation somewhere for subcutaneous cysts.)

  2. Can Serra negative spondylitis arthritis cause subcutaneous nodules on the scalp which is very painful and hard and the skin on and around it is very red

  3. Hello Anita,
    It might be acnes?

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