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Neck Masses

Neck Masses


Neck masses are abnormal lumps or swellings that can develop in the neck area. In children, these can be a cause for concern and may have various underlying causes. It's essential to promptly evaluate any neck mass in a child to determine its nature and potential implications. 


Neck masses are common in children. They can be caused by a variety of factors, including:

  • Infection: Infection is the most common cause of neck masses in children. Common infections that can cause neck masses include:

    • Strep throat

    • Mononucleosis

    • Tonsilitis, learn more here

    • Ear infections

    • Abscesses

  • Congenital cysts: Congenital cysts are fluid-filled sacs that are present at birth. They can form in any part of the body, but they are most common in the head, neck, and abdomen.

  • Tumors: Tumors can be benign (noncancerous) or malignant (cancerous). Benign tumors are more common than malignant tumors in children.

  • Other causes: Other causes of neck masses in children include:

    • Trauma

    • Thyroid problems

    • Allergies, learn more here

    • Swollen lymph nodes

Have questions?

Give us a call with the best Ear, Nose, and Throat Doctor (Otolaryngologist) in Hollywood, Florida.

(754) 888-1368

Other concerns?

Learn more about conditions and treatment for Pediatric ENT at ENT Family in Broward County, accessible from Miami, Coral Springs, Hollywood, Pembroke Pines, and Aventura.

Signs & Symptoms

Neck masses in children can be a cause for concern, and it's important for parents and caregivers to be vigilant about any signs or symptoms that may indicate the presence of a neck mass. 


Here are some signs and symptoms that could be associated with neck masses in children:

  • Visible or Palpable Lump - may be painless or tender to the touch, depending on the underlying cause

  • Pain or Discomfort - the level of pain can vary and may be associated with activities such as swallowing or turning the head

  • Changes in Skin Color or Texture - red, inflamed, or have changes in skin texture, such as dimpling or puckering

  • Fever - infections, which can lead to neck masses, may be accompanied by fever

  • Difficulty Swallowing or Breathing - depending on the size and location of the neck mass, it can sometimes interfere with swallowing or breathing

  • Voice Changes - in some cases, a neck mass may press on the vocal cords or nearby structures, resulting in changes in a child's voice or hoarseness

  • Weight Loss or Fatigue - unexplained weight loss or fatigue can be a sign of a more serious condition, such as malignancy, which can manifest as a neck mass

  • Enlarged Lymph Nodes - swollen lymph nodes are a common cause of neck masses in children, and they may be associated with an infection or other underlying condition

  • Neurological Symptoms - if the neck mass affects nerves in the neck, it can lead to neurological symptoms such as weakness or sensory changes in the arms or face

  • Pus or Drainage - in cases of abscess formation within a neck mass, there may be visible pus or drainage from the area


To diagnose the cause of a neck mass, your child's doctor will perform a physical examination and ask about your child's medical history. Your child's doctor may also order imaging tests, such as an ultrasound, CT scan, or MRI.


Treatment for a neck mass depends on the underlying cause. Infections are typically treated with antibiotics. Congenital cysts and benign tumors may need to be removed surgically. Malignant tumors may require a combination of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy.


Here are some tips for parents of children with neck masses:

  • Keep your child's neck clean and dry.

  • Avoid putting anything on your child's neck, such as cotton swabs or ear drops.

  • Watch for signs of infection, such as drainage from the neck, fever, or pain.

  • Take your child to their doctor for follow-up visits to monitor the neck mass and their overall health.

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