Hard, Painful, Tender, Swollen Lump under chin: causes, symptoms, treatments

Swelling or a lump under the chin can have many causes as well as symptoms. It can be painful or painless. The swelling can also be small, hard or tender to touch. Most of them occur under the chin due to swollen lymph nodes. They can also occur on the jawline, the neck or in the throat.

Lumps under the chin are rarely fatal. Fatality is introduced by presence of an infection or symptoms of cancer. It is therefore important to learn the cause and watch out for symptoms of infection or malignancy.

The best treatment options depend on the cause, symptoms and severity. Mild cases can be treated at home while serious ones must be treated by a doctor. This article provides details on Hard, Painful, Tender, Swollen Lump under chin: causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatments.

Meaning of lump under chin with no pain

The likely explanation for a painless lump under the chin is swollen lymph nodes caused by a mild infection. Lymph nodes swell every time they are involved in fighting disease-causing germs. Pain and further swelling will only occur if the infection is severe and long lasting.

Children sometimes develop a painless hard lump under the chin that is not attached to tissues. Such lumps are harmless and disappear with age. They are movable.

A lump under the chin with no pain should not keep gaining mass or showing any signs of evolution. You will find that cancer tumors are initially hard and painless. They however aren’t movable or tender to touch.

It is always advisable to have your doctor confirm the diagnosis. Lumps can sometimes be deceiving, only to find out later that you have been dealing with a serious condition or disease.

Painful lump under chin due to infections

A number of infections can lead to the formation of a painful lump under the chin. In most cases, the swelling will be due to inflamed lymph nodes. Lymph nodes are responsible for fighting disease causing germs in the body.

Cold or flu

Common cold and flu are viral infections. Other than swollen lymph nodes, they also cause a running nose, voice hoarseness and fever.

Strep throat

Strep throat is caused by bacteria. It is an infection of the throat. Common symptoms include painful lump under chin, soreness and pain. Severe strep infection causes painful lump in throat which makes it hard to swallow.

Abscess tooth

An abscessed tooth develops when bacteria leads to severe tooth decay inside the gum. This prompts the formation of a swollen lump under chin, mainly on the jawline. An abscessed tooth is very painful especially at night.

Ear infections

There are a number of ear infections such as otitis media and mastoiditis that can lead to a swollen lump under the chin. Most of them are caused by bacteria and are common in children. Ear infections are very dangerous. They not only can lead to loss of hearing but can also lead to meningitis.


This is a viral infection transmitted through saliva. It is common in teenagers and causes fever, headaches, sore throat and swelling of the lymph nodes. Infectious Mononucleosis is commonly referred to as the ‘kissing disease’. This is due to the fact that most transmissions occur when saliva is exchanged.

Other infections

Other infections that may be responsible for painful lump under chin include:

  • Sinus infections
  • Measles
  • Cellulitis
  • HIV
  • TB
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Lupus
  • Mumps
  • Rubella
  • Chicken pox/shingles
  • Syphilis

Infections are characterized by swelling of other lymph nodes, general weakness, sore throat, coughs, chills and fever. These symptoms are best addressed medically.

Hard lump under chin caused by benign tumors

The word benign is used to describe tumors that are not cancerous. Good examples which may be responsible for a hard lump under the chin include:


Sebaceous cysts are most common. They occur due to blockage of hair follicles by sebum. In most cases, lumps under chin due to cysts are hard and painless. Sebaceous cysts are whitish or green in color. They heal on their own without treatment. Cysts are common causes of a hard lump behind the ear.


Experts are not sure what causes lipoma. There are reasons however to associate it with hereditary factors. Lipoma causes soft, movable and rubbery lumps in the skin. The lumps are formed by accumulation of fatty cells in localized areas. Lipoma lumps are slow in developing. Small ones measure about 1 cm while large ones can reach 3 cm. Sometimes, smaller soft lumps may form near an initial larger one.


A fibroma lump is made of connective tissues. It is a very common cause of benign oral tumors. Fibroma is commonly caused by trauma or irritation to the connective tissue.


Moles are growths on the skin, usually brown or red in color. Moles are neither painful nor harmful. However, evolution of moles can be symptoms of melanoma, a deadly skin cancer.

Hard lump under chin due to cancer

Through only rarely, a hard lump under chin may be a symptom of cancer of the following:

  • Mouth
  • Throat
  • Thyroid gland
  • Lymphatic system
  • Salivary glands
  • Skin (melanoma)
  • Organs (non-melanoma)
  • Connective tissue (sarcoma)

Cancer arises after certain body cells go rogue and divide rapidly abnormally. It can begin in the affected organ or spread through lymphatic system from other organs. The lymphatic system is a commonly targeted area by cancer cells. Malignant cells can therefore be baked in the system and spread to other body parts. In some cases, a rare type of cancer that affects the connective tissue may occur and mimic fibroma in its initial stages.

Symptoms of lump under chin caused by cancer

Hard lump under the chin

  • Lump feeling in throat when swallowing
  • Chronic cough
  • Formation of lumps in other parts of the body, such as formation of a small lump on testicle
  • Recurring or chronic sores
  • Sudden loss of weight for no apparent reason
  • Evolving moles
  • Poor digestion
  • Compromised immunity
  • Voice hoarseness
  • Bloody discharge

Lumps showing these symptoms of cancer should immediately be reported to a doctor. Advanced stages of cancer are deadly and very difficult to treat.

Other possible causes of lump under chin

Acne can cause small lump under chin. The lump will in most cases feel soft and tender to touch. If infected, lumps due to acne develop into cystic acne, which is very painful.

Insect bites are commonly known to cause small but itchy lumps on the skin. Some parasites like ticks will stick on the skin and may be covered by the swollen skin.

Hard lumps under chin bone may be caused by salivary duct stones. These are lumps that occur when minerals crystalize in ducts through which saliva is secreted. The condition is painful but rarely harmful.

An itchy lump under chin may develop due to allergic reactions. In most cases, allergies to food will involve inflammation of the area near or around the mouth. Some people are allergic to medications such as penicillin. Their use may cause itchy lumps, which are in most cases also painful.

Fractures, injuries or traumas sustained under chin will probably cause swelling and lump formation. It can be natural swelling or due to blood clot. If infected, swelling of the lymph nodes will be triggered.

A large lump under chin near throat may be caused by a goiter. A goiter is a non-cancerous enlargement of the thyroid gland due to lack of iodine in the body. It creates a huge lump of visible mass on the neck.

Diagnosis and treatment for lump under chin

At home, diagnosis can be done by looking at the symptoms and comparing with online pictures. Doctors diagnose lumps under the chin through physical examinations and tests.

Painless movable lumps under chin due to swollen lymph nodes require no special treatment. They will go away once the infection is over. For ones appearing in childhood, age will be their cure.

Painful lumps showing signs of infection are mostly treated with antibiotics. This mostly applies to lumps showing signs such as pus formation and fever. For viral infections such as measles, antiviral medications will be prescribed.

Benign tumors are harmless and usually painless. They can be left on their own. For cosmetic reasons, surgical removal may be considered.

Cancer tumors are treated through radiation, chemotherapy and surgery. The tumors are more treatable the earlier treatment is started.

Conditions such as insect bites and acne can be treated with creams, antihistamines and steroid-based medications. Antihistamines are also very helpful for itchy lump caused by allergic reactions. Decayed tooth is best removed while injuries or fractures are to be treated by a doctor.

Treating lump under chin at home

Home remedies and treatment options will not succeed in completely getting rid of a lump under chin. They are best used to encourage recovery as well as reduce severity of infection. Some also work by reducing pain associated with painful lumps.

Warm compress is by far the most common home treatment in this case. It involves compressing a thin towel soaked in hot water and appropriately wringed. The treatment reduces pain and also fastens recovery from cysts and boils.

Home remedies with anti-microbial properties can also help. These include tea tree oil, lemon juice, turmeric, aloe Vera and ginger. They work best when fighting infected lumps under the chin. Turmeric and tea tree oil are anti-inflammatory remedies and so may help reduce the size of a lump under chin.

As we have seen, most cases of lumps under chin are caused by swollen lymph nodes. The swelling of lymph nodes indicates presence of disease causing germs in the body. To boost the ability of your immune system to fight such germs, ensure to include healthy choices in your meals. You should definitely include rich sources of vitamins and minerals. Fish oil supplements and probiotics may help.

Avoid poor lifestyle choices such as smoking, obesity and lack of exercises. It is when you are physically active that your body system is able to deal with infections the best.

When to see a doctor for a lump under chin

If a lump is painless and does not change, it probably will go away on its own. A good example is a lump due to lipoma. Such a lump will feel tender and rubbery to touch. Acne and cysts may be painful but rarely require medical attention. You may however see your doctor if either is causing pain, foul odor or cosmetic concerns.

Lumps that are infected should always be treated by a doctor. See your doctor if:

  • Lump forms pus
  • Is painful
  • Occurs multiple times
  • Is accompanied by fever, chills, headaches or swelling

See your doctor immediately if you notice signs of a cancer in a lump under the chin. Such symptoms include:

  • Evolving lump
  • Changes in size, shape and color
  • Appearance of lumps in other body parts such as a hard lump in breast
  • Irregularly shaped lumps
  • Continuous gain in mass
  • Chronic swelling of lymph nodes