You look in the mirror and you notice something is not quite right with your forehead. You feel around a little bit and notice a lump formed on the hardest part of your skull. But what is it and what caused it?
As with everything, there are several possible causes for the formation of the lump on your forehead. Some of these causes may be simple anatomical reactions in this area, and some of them are separate medical causes that may require professional assistance to be diagnosed.
You hit your head. The simplest and the most common cause of forehead lumps is simply a reaction to the fact that you have hit your forehead on the hard surface at some point. When this happens, a lump may form and be quite painful to the touch. This is not a cause for concern, and the lump should go away on its own in a few days.
Sinus issues. Sometimes, in rare cases, severe and recurrent sinus infections can cause lumps to form. This, however, does not happen that often.
Bone growth. Rarely, you can experience bone growth in your forehead which could be the cause of a lump. This type of lump is not mobile under the skin and grows gradually, over the course of many years.
Fatty tissue. Sometimes, the fatty tissue under your skin can accumulate and form benign growths on your forehead. These lumps are not hard but are more often than not mobile under the skin, and quite easily removed.
Dermoid cyst. Dermoid cysts are benign cystic growths that contain fluid, hair, teeth, and skin glands that can be found in the skin and on it. They grow quite slowly, and if they form on the face, they can be easily removed, without any complications.
Dermoid cysts happen when the skin structures become trapped during fetal development. You should seek medical attention if these cysts become inflamed and painful, if it changes color, and if it bothers you for cosmetic reasons. The cyst is firm and causes no pain unless it becomes ruptured, and in some rare cases, it can extend to structures deeper than skin, for example, facial cavities. In these cases, a doctor will most likely recommend a CT scan to determine the situation.
When it comes to home-removal of dermoid cysts, this is generally not recommended, as they tend to grow back if not removed completely. There is also a high risk of infection and bleeding if an untrained person attempts to remove it.
Sebaceous cyst. Sebaceous cysts are noncancerous cysts that are most often found on the face, torso, or neck. They also grow quite slowly and are not dangerous, but can get uncomfortable if untreated. They are also very easily diagnosed.
The causes of sebaceous cysts include acne, basal cell nevus, a simple scratch, result of a surgical wound, or Gardner’s syndrome. These cysts form out of sebaceous glands in the glands, which produce the oil known as sebum. When the duct through which the oil leaves becomes blocked or damaged, a cyst can form. These blockages and damages are usually caused by a trauma to the area, and since these cysts grow very slowly, it may be months after the trauma that you start to notice a formation of a cyst.
Even though they are generally harmless, if you notice that a diameter of the cyst is larger than five centimeters, if there are signs of infection such as drainage of pus, redness, or pain, and if the cyst grows back quickly after removal, this could mean that the cyst is potentially cancerous and that it requires medical attention.
They are usually treated by drainage or surgical removal. Even though they are not harmful to the overall health, they are often removed for cosmetic reasons. It is important to note that if removed in any way but surgically, a cyst will most likely come back, so the best treatment is complete surgical removal.
Neurofibromatosis. This is a genetic disorder that usually manifests in the form of noncancerous tumors anywhere in the nervous system. One of the symptoms of this condition can be a lump on your forehead, therefore it is always better to check every abnormality you notice than to wait and hope for the best.
There are three types of neurofibromatosis, NF1, NF2, and Schwannomatosis. All of them can over time lead to hearing loss, poor balance, constant headaches, numbness and weakness in legs or arms, facial drop, vision problems, chronic pain, and loss of muscle.
Possible treatments include surgery, stereotactic radiosurgery, and auditory brainstem implants. Pain management is also crucial for this disorder, and your doctor may prescribe gabapentin or pregabalin for nerve pain, serotonin, epilepsy medications, or tricyclic antidepressants, for example, amitriptyline.
Osteoma. Osteoma is a noncancerous, small-scale and slow-growing tumor that can form due to trauma, infection, another tumor (such as meningioma). Osteoma is basically a bone growth that develops over a longer period of time, and most of the times it does not pose a threat to your health. However, when accompanied by another disease, such as fibromatous lesions, polyps, and epidermal cysts, also known as Gardner’s syndrome, they can occur in more than one spot. Note that they are most commonly found in the skull and facial bones.
Osteoma can be removed fairly easily by an osteotome, which is basically a chisel inserted through a remote incision in the scalp. In a nutshell, a doctor can easily and promptly chisel the osteoma off the bone. There is also a new technique called radiofrequency ablation, which is less invasive than traditional surgical methods. A doctor will also most likely prescribe nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications to ease the pain.