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While lumps under your skin may cause you to worry, Medline Plus advises that most lumps and swellings are harmless. The location of your lumps, as well as any accompanying symptoms, can help you and your doctor determine their cause. You can develop bumps and lumps on the back of your neck for a variety of reasons. Contact your doctor regarding any lumps that seem to appear without a reason.

Neck Anatomy

Your neck, including the back portion of your neck, contains lymph nodes. According to Medline Plus, you may be able to feel the lymph nodes along each side of the back of your neck. Nodes behind your ears may also swell, causing lumps high on the back sides of your neck. The skin along the back of your neck may also develop swellings below the surface.


You may notice pain or itching around the area of your bumps. An elevated temperature may indicate the presence of a fever, while oozing or pus can signal the existence of a skin infection. Some lumps may roll easily under your fingers, while others can seem immovable.


Causes for bumps and lumps on the back of your neck vary. Swollen bumps that cause pain and appear suddenly often occur because of an infection or injury. Boils can cause lumps to form under the surface of the skin. Boils normally start as red, tender lumps, caused by bacterial conditions that infect your hair follicles. Swollen lymph nodes often appear when your body tries to fight off an infection. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, numerous conditions can cause your glands to swell, including strep throat, tuberculosis, leukemia, AIDS and food allergies. Certain medicines and vaccinations can also cause swollen lymph nodes.


You can take measures to help prevent and heal small bumps caused by boils. MayoClinic.com advises applying a warm compress to the boils for about 10 minutes every few hours. Soak the compress in warm salt water before application to help the boil rupture and drain.


Medline Plus recommends you contact your doctor if your lymph nodes remain enlarged after several weeks or continue to grow larger, if the nodes are tender, red or hard to the touch. Tell your doctor about any accompanying symptoms, such as fever and unexplained weight loss.