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Q: What causes permanent head bumps? ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   3 Comments )
Subject: What causes permanent head bumps?
Category: Health > Conditions and Diseases
Asked by: mxnmatch-ga
List Price: $20.00
Posted: 14 Oct 2002 15:38 PDT
Expires: 13 Nov 2002 14:38 PST
Question ID: 76580
What causes permanent head bumps? I have a rather large bump on my
head (perhaps an inch in diameter and maybe 3mm high) that has been
there for as long as I can remember (I'm 27). It's not made of bone,
it's made of flesh and is located a little bit forward from the very
middle of the top of my head. It's large enough that it
gets in the way when I get my hair cut. I'm assuming it's harmless,
but I'd really like to know how it might have gotten there. I've asked
a doctor about it and he said it was just a bump. He wasn't able to
tell me why some head bumps would go away after bumping my head on
something, and why some bumps would be permanent. My mom doesn't
remember the bump being there when I was a baby.
Subject: Re: What causes permanent head bumps?
Answered By: bcguide-ga on 14 Oct 2002 19:47 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars

Interesting question. People have been fascinated by bumpso n the
skull since prehistoric times.

In the late 18th century an Austrian physician, Franz Joseph founded a
scientific movement based on irregularities of these bones. It was
called phrenology. In 1796, not much was known about how the brain
worked. Gall noticed that his intelligent friends tended to have large
foreheads. He decided that growth of the part of the brain that
controls intelligence caused the front part of skull to expand.

Thinking the brain was like a muscle, he guessed that a well exercised
area of the brain would get larger. This would cause a corresponding
bump on the surface of the skull. The New England Journal of
Skepticism has a decent, short review of the movement. It was very
popular for a while, but fell out of fashion when neuroscience
developed the ability to analyze brain function and anatomy.

The reason some lumps go away when you bump your head and others don't
has to do with the severity of the damage to the underlying tissue.

You know that you get a bump or a bruise because you break small blood
vessels under the skin and the blood pools causing discoloration and
swelling in the surrounding tissue. As the blood clot (hematoma)
breaks down it gets reabsorbed and disappears. If you bumped yourself
hard enough to damage the tissues beneath this, you've graduated from
a bruise to a contusion. If the injury is on your armor leg the muscle
may be involved. If it's on your skull, the bone may be injured. Bone
is living tissue that has blood vessels and layers of cells. Smashing
into this can hurt your skull with out causing a fracture. Sometimes,
as the bone heals, it will get thicker in the damaged area. The same
way your skin might form a scar. That's why you sometimes wind up with
a knot that doesn't go away.

Subdural Hematomas
explains a little about the physiology of bumps to the head.

But that won't explain the fleshy lump that you describe. 

I am relieved that you said you checked with a doctor. Unusual lumps
anywhere should be checked to make sure that there is no malignancy

There are plenty of other conditions that might be responsible for
your long term "goose egg."

It could be:
a fluid filled cyst,
a sebaceous cyst sometimes called a "wen", 
(, or 
lipoma ( 

The last three of these would be classified as benign skull tumors.
These are not uncommon and ARE NOT CANCER. A tumor happens when a cell
gets misprogramed. It lives longer than it should and reproduces more
often than it needs to.

Malignant tumors, or cancer, are greedy cells that not only want to
live forever and multiply, they also want to take the nutrition that
other cells need to live. They spew out networks of little blood cells
that siphon off the food supply and bring it to them to feed on.
That's why cancer is dangerous. It interferes with the functions of
other cells near it. A malignant tumor on your skull would be
dangerous because it can decide to move in on your brain and that's
not good!

Benign tumors are very different. The cell that doesn't die as
programmed by youe body is a neighborly sort. It doesn't steal
resources from other nearby cells. All it does it sit in one place and
reproduce. After a while it has a little colony of cells that form a
lump. As the colony grows so does the lump, but many benign tumors are
incredibly slow growing or grow to a certain size and then stop.

The cell that started the tumor could have been:
"Bone forming
Cartilage forming
Tumors of connective tissue
Histiocytic tumors
Tumors of blood or blood vessel origin
Other types including fibrous dysplasia, Paget disease, or epidermoid,
dermoid, or aneurysmal bone."

The primary cell will determine the tumor type. 

You should find out what it is, for curiosity if not for health
reasons. It's probably nothing serious if you've had it ever since you
can remember. Removing it would be your choice if it's a benign

Search terms used: Osteoma cranial skull lump contusion

Hope this didn't get to complicated as an explanation of a simple bump
on your head!


Request for Answer Clarification by mxnmatch-ga on 14 Oct 2002 21:09 PDT
Thank you for the very informative answer! What type of doctor should
I see to find out exactly what it is?

If I wanted to get it removed, would I see a dermatologist about that
or would another type of doctor be more appropriate?

Request for Answer Clarification by mxnmatch-ga on 14 Oct 2002 21:13 PDT
Oops. By rating it I guess I closed the question. I had a followup:

Thank you for the very informative answer! What type of doctor should
I see to find out exactly what it is?
If I wanted to get it removed, would I see a dermatologist about that
or would another type of doctor be more appropriate?

Clarification of Answer by bcguide-ga on 14 Oct 2002 23:08 PDT

Surgeon-ga's comment pretty much answers your clarification request. I
don't know what kind of insurance you have, but many require you to
see your family doctor or your primary care physician in order to get
referred. It shouldn't be too complicated and your doctor may be able
to do an in-office procedure, but if not, you'll be referred to the
right person to take care of it.

Thanks for the rating!

mxnmatch-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars
This is exactly the type of information I was looking for! Thanks!

Subject: Re: What causes permanent head bumps?
From: surgeon-ga on 14 Oct 2002 21:26 PDT
by far the most likely explanation for a bump in the scalp is a
sebaceous cyst, (a plugged oil gland). They are not dangerous, other
than a chance of becoming infected. They are quite easy to remove,
under local anesthesia as a simple five or ten minute office
procedure.  It sounds like your doctor would not want to be the one to
remove it, although some family doctors could. Best would be a general
surgeon; some dermatologists do such surgery as well, many do not.
Subject: Re: What causes permanent head bumps?
From: probonopublico-ga on 14 Oct 2002 23:47 PDT
My dog, Daisy, a 12 year-old Yorkshire Terrier grew a lump on top of
her head. It looked like a horn. The vet said he preferred not to
operate because of her age.

Then, one day, an evangelist knocked on the door. She said that Jesus
had told her to call and offered to perform a miracle. I asked her if
she could remove the lump. She sang a hymn, read from the Bible and
then stared long and hard at Daisy.

A few weeks later, the lump disappeared.

Sorry, but I haven't got her address.
Subject: I had the operation.
From: mxnmatch-ga on 13 Dec 2002 11:50 PST
Just an FYI: I went to the doctor and he agreed it was a sebaceous
cyst. He referred me to a general surgeon who also agreed that that's
what it was. I then came back a week later and he made a slit about an
inch and a half long and pulled it out in about 10 minutes using local
anesthesia. It looked cool! It was a little ball, about a centimeter
in diameter, with a long root coming out of it. They wouldn't let me
keep it though. *smile*

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