Raised skin bumps: pictures, causes and treatment

It is common for raised bumps to develop on the skin and there are many different causes. The bumps can vary in size and color. Some types are painful, while others do not cause discomfort.

There are many reasons why a person can develop raised skin bumps. Most of the time, the bumps are harmless. However, a person should see a doctor if they have any concerns. A bump can sometimes indicate a problem such as skin cancer.

Skin bumps can occur anywhere on the body and result from a variety of causes. Among these causes are:

  • acne
  • allergic reaction
  • trauma / friction
  • skin cancer
  • infection

This article discusses the raised skin bumps that result from these causes, including their appearance and possible treatments.

Acne is one of the most common types of skin conditions, affecting up to 50 millions Americans every year.

The way the skin reacts to acne varies, but it can cause bumps on the skin, commonly called “blemishes”, “pimples” or “pimples”. These usually appear on the face, chest, or back.

Acne in the form of blackheads or whiteheads causes smaller bumps, while papules and pustules are slightly larger.


There is Three acne severity categories – mild, moderate and severe.

Mild acne has the fewest lesions and can be treated with topical medications or laser and light therapy.

Moderate acne is more invasive and may require antibiotics or antiandrogens for treatment.

Severe acne has the most inflamed lesions.

Treatment of severe acne may require oral isotretinoin, such as Accutane, which is an effective treatment.

the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) Note that darker skin tones may particularly benefit from using a combination of retinoid and benzoyl peroxide.

Learn more about treating acne on black skin here.

Home treatment options for acne include external use of:

  • aloe vera
  • tea tree oil
  • propolis, found in bee products
  • benzoyl peroxide
  • salicylic acid
  • glycolic acid.

Learn more about acne prevention and management tips here.

The body produces an allergic reaction when the immune system has a extreme response to an otherwise harmless factor in the environment.

Among other symptoms, raised bumps can appear as a reaction to the triggering allergen.

Skin responses usually appear in areas that have been in contact with the allergens, but they can develop anywhere on the body.

Skin reactions can last for minutes or hours and may appear as hives, contact dermatitis, or other lesions.


Hives, or hives, present as bumps or marks on the skin. On white skin, they appear red. On darker skin, they can be similar to skin tone. They can sometimes appear lighter or darker than the surrounding skin.

Urticaria can be acute or chronic. Acute hives usually occur due to exposure to an allergen and should not last longer than 6 weeks.

Learn more about hives on black skin here.

Contact dermatitis

Contact dermatitis occurs when the skin comes in contact with an allergen or irritant.

A person may notice:

  • a rash
  • blisters
  • itch
  • burning
  • dry, chapped skin

According to UK National Health Service (NHS), the rash may appear red on lighter skin and dark brown, gray or purple on darker skin.


Topical antihistamines, corticosteroid creams, and oral corticosteroids are medical options if symptoms develop.

People may also find it beneficial to take a bath and hydrate immediately afterwards by using emollients.

Blisters are bubbles containing body fluids, such as serum, that develop from heat, friction, or exposure to chemicals, among other causes. The bubbles are present between the top layers of the skin. This creates visible bumps.

The blisters may also contain blood, also known as blood blisters. These can appear in red or black.

On dark skin, they will appear lighter than the surrounding skin.

Blisters can be painful, but are usually harmless. They often develop on the feet after wearing shoes, the fingers after using a pen, or other areas of the skin after exposure to the sun.


A person can cover the blister loosely with a bandage.

For those that appear on the bottom of the foot, a person can cut the padding into a donut shape, with a hole in the center.

Place it around the blister and cover it with a bandage.

Blisters can be annoying, but they are the body’s way of protecting the area under the skin. For this reason, it is best to leave a blister intact if it grows.

However, if the blister causes discomfort or pain, the AAD indicates that a person can use a sterilized needle to pierce the outer layer and drain the fluid.

People should then disinfect the puncture wound with soap and water before sealing it with petroleum jelly. Leave the top layer of skin intact as it will protect the wound below.

There are many different infections that can cause raised skin bumps.

These include:

  • Impetigo: This is a bacterial infection, usually caused by staph bacteria, which causes sores and pustules on the skin.
  • VSvaricella: This is a viral infection caused by the varicella zoster virus (VZV).
  • Cold sores: These are painful bumps or blisters that appear on the face and around the lips due to infection with the herpes simplex virus.
  • MRSA infection: This is a serious bacterial skin infection that presents as a swollen, painful, and warm lump on the skin.
  • Warts: These are small bumps on the skin that occur as a result of the human papillomavirus. On dark skin, they may appear paler than the surrounding skin.
  • Scabies: This is a parasitic infection that presents as an itchy, pimple-like rash. It may be more difficult to see on darker skin, but a person should be able to feel the rash, depending on the NHS.
  • Molluscum contagiosum: This is a harmless poxvirus infection that causes small, firm bumps to appear. The bumps can be skin colored or have a more rosy tone.


Treatment will depend on the underlying cause. A person can treat some causes with topical creams and ointments. These include:

Some bacterial causes may require antibiotics, such as a MRSA infection.

Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This can be the result of too much exposure to the sun.

Raised skin bumps can be a sign of melanoma or carcinoma, which are types of skin cancer.


Melanoma tumors often start with a flat shape like freckles or moles. They grow and form slight bumps as the pigmentation cells grow uncontrollably.

Melanoma tumors can be brown, black, blue, tan, red, light gray, or colorless. The growths can be tender and itchy, and as they grow, the skin can crust and bleed easily.

Basal cell carcinoma

Basal cell carcinoma, or BCC, forms a shiny, round, slow-growing lump that people sometimes mistake for acne, skin injury, sore or scar.

Bumps often develop on the head or neck, but they also develop on the arms, legs, hands, and, despite not being exposed to the sun, the genitals.

BCC bumps are usually pink or red. In some cases, they can also be brown, black, yellow or white. Symptoms that occur with CBC include itching, tenderness, numbness, and tingling.

Cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma

Cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma, or SCC, can appear like a crusty or scaly bump or area of ​​lumpy skin. The bumps usually develop on the areas most exposed to the sun, such as the face, hands or legs. They can be painful and tender.

Types of cutaneous SCC include:

  • verrucous carcinoma, including a wart-like lump that grows on the bottom of the foot
  • cutaneous horn, which is a cone-shaped lesion
  • keratoacanthoma, which is a tumor that can resolve without treatment
  • marjolin ulcer, which is a rare tumor that develops from scars or ulcers


If a person thinks they have a cancerous skin lump, they should see a doctor.

Treatment for skin cancer can include a combination of:

There are many causes of a raised skin lump. Other causes include:

  • boils, which are hard, painful bumps filled with pus
  • corns, which are hard, thickened areas of skin, usually occurring on the feet
  • cysts, which are bumps under the skin filled with liquid or semi-solid substances
  • seborrheic keratosis, which are benign skin growths that look like warts
  • lipomas, which are soft, fatty bumps under the skin that don’t need treatment
  • keloids, which are a type of raised scar that initially appears red, pink, or purple
  • keratosis pilaris, which is a harmless skin condition that appears as tiny bumps, mostly on the back of the arm or thighs, which can look like acne
  • skin tags, which are harmless skin growths that are usually flesh-colored
  • Cherry angiomas, which are red papules on the skin that appear red on lighter skin and blue or purple on darker skin
  • pseudofolliculitis barbae, which is an ingrown hair that may look like a pimple


Treatment will ultimately depend on the cause. Some skin bumps, such as skin tags and keratosis pilaris, do not require medical treatment.

Others may require surgery or excision.

A person should see a doctor or dermatologist to discuss potential treatment options.

With most types of skin bumps, there is no need to call a doctor. However, if a person has concerns about a lump, they should see a doctor.

It is possible to confuse more serious conditions such as skin cancer with mild acne.

Most people will have bumps on their skin at some point. They come in different shapes, sizes and colors and can cause symptoms, such as itching or no symptoms.

Raised bumps are generally harmless. They can be the result of acne, ingrown hairs, or skin tags, among many other causes. However, sometimes raised bumps indicate skin cancer. It is always best to see a doctor if a person has any concerns.

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